Reducing the Standards Track to Two Maturity Levels

Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 rfc6410                         
INTERNET-DRAFT                                                R. Housley
Updates: 2026 (if approved)                               Vigil Security
Intended Status: BCP                                          D. Crocker
                                             Brandenburg InternetWorking
                                                               E. Burger
                                                   Georgetown University
Expires: 21 October 2011                                   19 April 2011

          Reducing the Standards Track to Two Maturity Levels


   This document proposes several changes to the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF) Standards Process defined in RFC 2026, primarily a
   reduction from three IETF standards track maturity levels to two.

   {{ RFC Editor: please change "proposes several changes to the" to
   "updates the". }}

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted to IETF in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2011 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal

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INTERNET-DRAFT                                                April 2011

   Provisions  Relating to IETF Documents
   (  in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.

1.  Introduction

   This document proposes several changes to the Internet Standards
   Process defined in RFC 2026 [1].  In recent years, the Internet
   Engineering Task Force (IETF) has witnessed difficulty in advancing
   documents through the maturity levels: Proposed Standard, Draft
   Standard, and finally Standard.  These changes are designed to
   simplify the IETF Standards Process and reduce impediments to
   standards progression while preserving the most important benefits of
   the IETF engineering approach.

   {{ RFC Editor: please change "proposes several changes to the" to
   "changes the". }}

   Over the years, there have been many proposals for refining the
   Internet Standards Process to reduce impediments to standards
   progression.  During May 2010, the Internet Engineering Steering
   Group (IESG) discussed many of these proposals.  Then, a plenary
   discussion at IETF 78 in July 2010 demonstrated significant support
   for transition from a three-tier maturity ladder to one with two

   In the current environment, many documents are published as Proposed
   Standard and never advance to a higher maturity level.  In addition,
   IETF working groups and IESG members provide much more scrutiny than
   is called for by RFC 2026 [1] prior to publication as Proposed
   Standard.  One desired outcome is to provide an environment where the
   IETF community is able to publish Proposed Standards as soon as rough
   consensus is achieved.  Another desired outcome is easier publication
   of revisions that reflect implementation and deployment experience,
   whether the document is advancing on the maturity ladder or not.

   Maturity level advancement ought to be based on achieving widespread
   deployment of quality specifications.  Further, protocols are
   improved by removing complexity associated with features that are not
   used in practice.

2.  Two Maturity Levels

   This document, once approved, replaces the three-tier maturity ladder
   defined in RFC 2026 [1] with a two-tier maturity ladder.  The benefit
   associated with a third maturity level has proven insufficient to

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   justify the effort associated with document progression.  The two
   maturity levels are Proposed Standard and Internet Standard.

   {{ RFC Editor: please change "This document, once approved, replaces"
   to "This document replaces". }}

   Experience with a Proposed Standard often leads to revisions that
   clarify, modify, enhance, or remove features.  Review of revisions to
   a Proposed Standard that is submitted for publication at the same
   maturity level is generally limited to the changes.  Reconsideration
   of the portions that were previously approved for publication as a
   Proposed Standard requires evidence that the unchanged features are
   causing significant problems with use of the specification.

   A specification shall remain at the Proposed Standard maturity level
   for at least six (6) months before consideration for advancement to
   the Internet Standard maturity level.  The six months begins when the
   RFC is published.

   A specification may be, and indeed, is likely to be, revised as it
   advances from Proposed Standard to Internet Standard.  When a revised
   specification is proposed for advancement to Internet Standard, the
   IESG shall determine the scope and significance of the changes to the
   specification, and, if necessary and appropriate, modify the
   recommended action.  Minor revisions and the removal of unused
   features are expected, but a significant revision may require that
   the specification accumulate more experience at Proposed Standard
   before progressing.

2.1.  The First Maturity Level: Proposed Standard

   The stated requirements for Proposed Standard are not changed; they
   remain exactly as specified in RFC 2026 [1].  Various influences have
   made publishing a Proposed Standard much harder than the stated
   requirements in RFC 2026.  The intention of the two-tier maturity
   ladder is to restore practice to the requirements for Proposed
   Standard from RFC 2026, and stop performing more scrutiny than
   intended in IETF working groups and the IESG.  No new requirements
   are introduced; no existing published requirements are relaxed.

2.2.  The Second Maturity Level: Internet Standard

   This maturity level is a merger of Draft Standard and Standard as
   specified in RFC 2026 [1].  The chosen name avoids confusion between
   "Draft Standard" and "Internet-Draft".

   The characterization of an Internet Standard remains as described in

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   RFC 2026 [1], which says:

      An Internet Standard is characterized by a high degree of
      technical maturity and by a generally held belief that the
      specified protocol or service provides significant benefit
      to the Internet community.

   The criteria for advancing from Proposed Standard to Internet
   Standard are confirmed by the IESG in an IETF-wide Last Call of at
   least two weeks:

      * There are a significant number of implementations with
        successful operational experience.

      * There are no unresolved errata against the specification that
        would cause a new implementation to fail to interoperate with
        deployed ones.

      * There are no unused features in the specification that greatly
        increase implementation complexity.

      * If patented or otherwise controlled technology is required for
        implementation, the separate implementations must also have
        resulted from separate exercise of the licensing process.

   Note that the distinct requirement from RFC 2026 [1] for reports of
   interoperability testing among two or more independent
   implementations is intentionally subsumed by the requirement for
   actual deployment and use of independent and interoperable
   implementations.  The Last Call is intended to identify unused
   portions of the specification that greatly increase implementation
   complexity without burdensome implementation testing and

3.  Removal of Requirement for Annual Review

   In practice the annual review of Proposed Standard and Draft Standard
   documents after two years called for in RFC 2026 [1] has not taken
   place.  Lack of this review has not revealed any ill effects on the
   Internet Standards Process.  As a result, the requirement for this
   review is dropped.  No review cycle is imposed on standards track
   documents at any maturity level.

4.  Downward References Permitted

   Internet Standards are allowed to make normative references to
   Proposed Standards.  The rules that prohibit references to documents
   at lower maturity levels are a major cause of stagnation in the

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   advancement of documents.  This change allows an Internet Standard to
   freely reference features in any standards track RFC.  The intent of
   this change is to enable expeditious promotion of Proposed Standards
   to Internet Standards.

   Normative references to BCP documents continue to be allowed.

   Downward normative references to Informational documents continue to
   be allowed using the procedure specified in RFC 3967 [2].

   Downward normative references to Historic documents, Experimental
   documents, and Internet-Draft documents continue to be prohibited.

5.  Transition to a Standards Track with Two Maturity Levels

   Any protocol or service that is currently at the Proposed Standard
   maturity level remains so.

   Any protocol or service that is currently at the Standard maturity
   level shall be immediately reclassified as an Internet Standard.

   Any protocol or service that is currently at the abandoned Draft
   Standard maturity level will retain that classification, absent
   explicit actions.  Two possible actions are available:

   (1) A Draft Standard may be reclassified as an Internet Standard as
       soon as the criteria in Section 2.2 are satisfied.  This
       reclassification is accomplished by submitting a request to the
       IESG along with a description of the operational experience.
       After review and consideration of significant errata, the IESG
       will perform an IETF-wide Last Call of at least two weeks on the
       requested reclassification.  If there is consensus for
       reclassification, the RFC will be reclassified without
       publication of a new RFC.

       As stated in RFC 2026 [1], in a timely fashion after the
       expiration of the Last Call period, the IESG shall make its final
       determination and notify the IETF of its decision via electronic
       mail to the IETF Announce mailing list.  No changes are made to
       Section 6.1.2 of RFC 2026 [1].

   (2) At any time after two years from the approval of this document as
       a BCP, the IESG may choose to reclassify any Draft Standard
       document as Proposed Standard.

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6.  Open Question Regarding STD Numbers

   Under current practice, a STD number is assigned only when a document
   (or document set) reaches the full Standard maturity level.  In
   several situations, an RFC that has reached the full Standard
   maturity level has been obsoleted by a RFC at Proposed Standard
   maturity level, causing great confusion about which specification
   ought to be implemented.

   During the IETF 78 plenary discussion, several people advocated
   abandoning STD numbers.  These people felt that the confusion
   associated with these numbers outweighs their value.  Other people
   felt that the ability to assign one number to a collection of
   Internet Standards was very valuable.

   This document makes no change to the current STD practice; however,
   this topic deserves further discussion by the whole community.

7.  Security Considerations

   This document does not directly affect the security of the Internet.

8.  IANA Considerations

   This document requests no action by the IANA.

   {{ RFC Editor: Please delete this section before publication. }}

9.  Acknowledgements

   A two-tier standards track proposal has been proposed many times.
   Spencer Dawkins, Charlie Perkins, and Dave Crocker made a proposal in
   2003.  Another proposal was made by Scott Bradner in 2004.  Another
   proposal was made by Brian Carpenter in June 2005.  Another proposal
   was made by Ran Atkinson in 2006.  This document takes ideas from
   many of these prior proposals; it also incorporates ideas from the
   IESG discussion in May 2010, the IETF 78 plenary discussion in July
   2010, and yet another proposal submitted by Spencer Dawkins, Dave
   Crocker, Eric Burger, and Peter Saint-Andre in November 2010.

10.  Normative References

   [1]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3",
        BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [2]  Bush, R., and T. Narten, "Clarifying when Standards Track
        Documents may Refer Normatively to Documents at a Lower Level",
        BCP 97, RFC 3967, December 2004.

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INTERNET-DRAFT                                                April 2011

Author's Address

   Russell Housley
   Vigil Security, LLC

   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking

   Eric W. Burger
   Georgetown University

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