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Versions: 00 01                                                         
    Internet Draft                                           J. Loughney
    Document: draft-loughney-what-standards-00.txt                 Nokia
    Expires: April 2004                                     October 2003
                         Standards, What Standards?
 Status of this Memo
    This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
    all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026 [1].
    Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
    Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
    other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-
    Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
    months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other
    documents at any time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts
    as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in
    The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at
    The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at
    The current problem working group has identified problems with they
    way in which the IETF manages the document series.  This document
    discusses some of the problems caused by the current state of
    affairs and lays out some steps to correct the problems.
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
 Table of Contents
    1. Introduction..................................................3
       1.1 The Problem(s)............................................3
    2. Further Analysis of Identified Problems.......................4
       2.1 Few Specifications Progress Beyond Proposed Standard......4
       2.2 There is no Formal Bug Reporting or Tracking System.......4
       2.3 Periodic Reviews of Protocols are not Being Carried Out...4
       2.4 There is no Maintenance Team Responsible for a Protocol...5
    3. Additional Potential Problems.................................5
    4. Potential Solutions...........................................5
       4.1 Question to the Community.................................6
    5. Simple Example................................................6
    6. Security Considerations.......................................6
    7. IANA Considerations...........................................7
    Author's Addresses...............................................7
    Appendix A - A Pathological Example..............................7
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
 1. Introduction
    The IETF has produced a large (and useful) body of work. In many
    ways, the IETF has been a victim of its own (or at least of IP's)
    success.  It is reasonable to expect that as standards see
    deployment and uses not envisioned by the original authors, bugs
    will be found or clarification will be needed.
    Additionally, as the standards with the IETF produces see wider
    deployment by parties outside of the IETF, the system of
    documentation and updating within the IETF may cause some amount of
    There may be different expectations of what IETF standards may
    mean.  Vendors often implement protocols based upon drafts;
    proposed standards often are sufficient.  Other Standards
    Development Organizations may require Draft Standard status, at a
    minimum, for referencing in their documentations.  Government
    Agencies, however, may take the standards levels literally and
    assume only Full Standards can be considered as true standards.
    Finally, the RFC numbering scheme does not lend itself for easily
    tracking development on a specific protocol or protocol area. There
    are no inter-relation between RFC numbers, so often one must rely
    on the RFC Editor's search engine to find all relevant standards on
    a specific protocol.  See Appendix A for a pathological example.
 1.1 The Problem(s)
    The following problems are excerpted from Section 2.4 of the IETF
    Problem statement [PROB].
           o   Relatively few specifications are now progressed beyond
               Proposed Standard (PS) to Draft Standard (DS) level, and
               even fewer to Full Standard (FS).
           o  There is no formal bug reporting or tracking system in
               place for IETF specifications.
           o  The periodic review of protocols at PS and DS levels
               specified in [1] are not being carried out, allowing
               protocols to persist in these lower maturity levels for
               extended periods of time, whereas the process would
               normally expect them to progress or be relegated to
               Historic status.
           o  No individual or body is given the task of 'maintaining'
               a specification after the original WG has closed down.
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
               Specifications are generally only updated when a need
               for a new version is perceived.  No attempt is normally
               made to correct bugs in the specification (whether they
               affect operation or not) and the specification is not
               updated to reflect parts of the specification that have
               fallen into disuse or were, in fact, never implemented.
               This is in part because the current procedures would
               require a standard to revert to the PS maturity level
               even when specification maintenance is carried out which
               can be demonstrated to have no or minimal effect on an
               existing protocol at DS or FS level.
    This document does not take a stand on the issue of the relevance
    of the current standards track, but to note that in any given
    moment, a standard may be on-going work to progress the document.
 2. Further Analysis of Identified Problems
    This section looks in greater detail the affects of the problems
    listed in section 1.  Many of these issues are interlinked or
    compound each other.
 2.1 Few Specifications Progress Beyond Proposed Standard
    The IETF, as of late, does not have a good track record of moving
    protocols beyond Proposed Standard.  In fact, the goal of most
    Working Groups is to produce a set of RFCs and then shut down.
    Working groups that do this are considered to have succeeded.
    There are only a handful of long-lived working groups, such as
    IPv6, whose charters include progressing standards beyond Proposed
 2.2 There is no Formal Bug Reporting or Tracking System
    Bugs in a specification can be found at any point. There have been
    bugs found in even in Full Standards.  How do we ensure the
    correctness in our own standards?
 2.3 Periodic Reviews of Protocols are not Being Carried Out
    Many protocols suffer from benign neglect.  The working group
    charged with developing the protocol has gone dormant or shut down.
    The principal authors of the specification may no longer be
    involved in the IETF.  Further development of the protocol may even
    be officially discouraged.
    Other SDOs may consider extensions or modification to the
    protocols. This causes problems for parties interested in the
    technology, as it becomes unclear as to exactly what specifies a
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
    particular protocol.  Additionally, it makes it hard to track
    errors or update in a specification or protocol.
 2.4 There is no Maintenance Team Responsible for a Protocol
    Specifications are generally only updated when a need for a new
    version is perceived.  No attempt is normally made to correct bugs
    in the specification (whether they affect operation or not) and the
    specification is not updated to reflect parts of the specification
    that have fallen into disuse or were, in fact, never implemented.
    This is in part because the current procedures would require a
    standard to revert to the PS maturity level even when specification
    maintenance is carried out which can be demonstrated to have no or
    minimal effect on an existing protocol at DS or FS level.
 3. Additional Potential Problems
 4. Potential Solutions
    It has been suggested that some standards could be given a label,
    for example the Foo MIB. Note that three versions of the Foo MIB
    have been made RFCs 4120, 4560 and 7890. RFC 4560 was a flawed
    attempt to do what 7890 did, which reached wide deployment before
    the flaw was discovered.
    The standard listing for "Ethernet MIB" could say:
       Standard last updated: July 1, 2004
                Stable IETF        1   Mult   Deployed Known
                 tech  recommend impl  impl   widely   harmful
     RFC 4120      Y      N        Y     Y        Y       N
     RFC 4560      Y      N        Y     Y        Y       Y
     RFC 7890      Y      Y        Y     N        N       N
     Draft-foo-bis N      N        Y     N        N       N
       The IETF recommends deployment of RFC 4120.
       The IETF recommends implementation of RFC 7890.
       The IETF recommends experimentation with
       The IETF recommends against implementing RFC 4560.
       Important errata known for RFC 4120, 4560 and 7890 are:
       <insert errata here>
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
    One could imagine a team or a stuckee in charge of gathering
    experience with the documents. As implementation reports and
    deployment experience gathers, the  "scorecard" - but NOT the RFCs
    - would be updated. Other documents, rather than referring to a
    specific RFC, would, when possible, refer to the label given
 4.1 Question to the Community
    The question is, how would the IETF document this.  Would this
    become, in essence, something like an Applicability Statement,
    which would be published as an RFC?  Would this be a new class of
    document, which would get an additional tag, something along the
    lines of what is done with STDs?  Or would this just be information
    listed on a separate web page, as supplemental information?
 5. Simple Example
    SCTP has been chosen because it is a relatively new protocol but
    also because the author is familiar with it.
    Stream Control Transmission Protocol
                Stable IETF        1   Mult   Deployed Known
                 tech  recommend impl  impl   widely   harmful
     RFC 2960      Y      Y        Y     Y        N       N
     RFC 3309      Y      Y        Y     Y        N       N
     Imp Guide [1] N      N        Y     Y        N       N
     Add IP [2]    N      N        Y     Y        N       N
     PR-SCTP [3]   N      N        Y     Y        N       N
          [1] draft-ietf-tsvwg-sctpimpguide-09.txt
          [2] draft-ietf-tsvwg-addip-sctp-08.txt
          [3] draft-ietf-tsvwg-prsctp-01.txt
   Information References:
     RFC 3257   Stream Control Transmission Protocol
                Applicability Statement
     RFC 3286   An Introduction to the Stream Control
                Transmission Protocol (SCTP)
    The IETF recommends implementing RFC 2960 with the updated checksum
    coverage documented in RFC 3309.  draft-ietf-tsvwg-sctpimpguide
    contains updated information found during conformance tests.
 6. Security Considerations
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
    This document in and of itself does not of itself have security
 7. IANA Considerations
    There are no IANA considerations defined in this document.
    [2026]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
             3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.
    The author would like to thank Harald Alvestrand for making the
    author the stuckee on this particular topic.  The author wants to
    thank John Klensen for warning that there may be dragons ahead.
    Thanks to Spencer Dawkins for reading & commenting.
 Author's Addresses
    John Loughney
    Email: john.loughney@nokia.com
 Appendix A - A Pathological Example
    TCP has been a wildly successful protocol by any measure.  One of
    the benefits of TCP has been that it has enabled interoperable
    services running on-top of it, irrespective of the layers below it.
    This success has come at a price.
    The following is a table, based upon searching from the RFC
    Editors' page on the text 'tcp' in the RFC title, with some
    Additionally, there have been discussions on the e2e mailing list
    about what constitutes TCP
    STD0007 Transmission    J. Postel      Sep-01-  Updated  STD
    RFC0793 Control Protocol               1981     by
    RFC3522 The Eifel       R. Ludwig, M.  April             EXP
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
           Detection       Meyer          2003
           Algorithm for
    RFC3517 A Conservative  E. Blanton, M. April             PS
           Selective       Allman, K.     2003
           Acknowledgment  Fall, L. Wang
           Loss Recovery
           Algorithm for
    RFC3481 TCP over Second H. Inamura,    February          BCP
    BCP0071 (2.5G) and Third Ed., G.        2003
           (3G) Generation Montenegro,
           Wireless        Ed., R.
           Networks        Ludwig, A.
                            Gurtov, F.
    RFC3465 TCP Congestion  M. Allman      February          EXP
           Control with                   2003
           Appropriate Byte
           Counting (ABC)
    RFC3449 TCP Performance H.             December          BCP
    BCP0069 Implications of Balakrishnan,  2002
           Network Path    V.
           Asymmetry       Padmanabhan,
                            G. Fairhurst,
    RFC3448 TCP Friendly    M. Handley, S. January           PS
           Rate Control    Floyd, J.      2003
           (TFRC): Protocol Padhye, J.
           Specification   Widmer
    RFC3390 Increasing TCP's M. Allman, S.  October  Obsoletes PS
           Initial Window  Floyd, C.      2002     RFC2414,
                            Partridge               Updates
    RFC3360 Inappropriate   S. Floyd       August            BCP
    BCP0060 TCP Resets                     2002
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
    RFC3042 Enhancing TCP's M. Allman, H.  January           PS
           Loss Recovery   Balakrishnan,  2001
           Using Limited   S. Floyd
    RFC2988 Computing TCP's V. Paxson, M.  November          PS
           Retransmission  Allman         2000
    RFC2883 An Extension to S. Floyd, J.   July 2000          PS
           the Selective   Mahdavi, M.
           Acknowledgement Mathis, M.
           (SACK) Option   Podolsky
           for TCP
    RFC2873 TCP Processing  X. Xiao, A.    June 2000          PS
           of the IPv4     Hannan, V.
           Precedence      Paxson, E.
           Field           Crabbe
    RFC2861 TCP Congestion  M. Handley, J. June 2000          EXP
           Window          Padhye, S.
           Validation      Floyd
    RFC2760 Ongoing TCP     M. Allman,     February          INFO
           Research Related Ed., S.        2000
           to Satellites   Dawkins, D.
                            Glover, J.
                            Griner, D.
                            Tran, T.
                            Henderson, J.
                            Heidemann, J.
                            Touch, H.
                            Kruse, S.
                            Ostermann, K.
                            Scott, J.
    RFC2582 The NewReno     S. Floyd, T.   April             EXP
           Modification to Henderson      1999
           TCP's Fast
    RFC2581 TCP Congestion  M. Allman, V.  April    Obsoletes PS
           Control         Paxson, W.     1999     RFC2001,
                            Stevens                 Updated
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
    RFC2525 Known TCP       V. Paxson, M.  March             INFO
           Implementation  Allman, S.     1999
           Problems        Dawson, W.
                            Fenner, J.
                            Griner, I.
                            Heavens, K.
                            Lahey, J.
                            Semke, B. Volz
    RFC2507 IP Header       M. Degermark,  February          PS
           Compression     B. Nordgren,   1999
                            S. Pink
    RFC2488 Enhancing TCP   M. Allman, D.  January           BCP
    BCP0028 Over Satellite  Glover, L.     1999
           Channels using  Sanchez
    RFC2416 When TCP Starts T. Shepard, C. September          INFO
           Up With Four    Partridge      1998
           Packets Into
           Only Three
    RFC2415 Simulation      K. Poduri, K.  September          INFO
           Studies of      Nichols        1998
           Initial TCP
           Window Size
    RFC2414 Increasing TCP's M. Allman, S.  September Obsoleted EXP
           Initial Window  Floyd, C.      1998     by
                            Partridge               RFC3390
    RFC2398 Some Testing    S. Parker, C.  August            INFO
    FYI0033 Tools for TCP   Schmechel      1998
    RFC2151 A Primer On     G. Kessler, S. June 1997 Obsoletes INFO
    FYI0030 Internet and    Shepard                 RFC1739
           TCP/IP Tools and
    RFC2147 TCP and UDP over D. Borman      May 1997 Obsoleted PS
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
           IPv6 Jumbograms                          by
    RFC2140 TCP Control     J. Touch       April             INFO
           Block                          1997
    RFC2018 TCP Selective   M. Mathis, J.  October  Obsoletes PS
           Acknowledgement Mahdavi, S.    1996     RFC1072
           Options         Floyd, A.
    RFC2001 TCP Slow Start, W. Stevens     January  Obsoleted PS
           Congestion                     1997     by
           Avoidance, Fast                          RFC2581
           Retransmit, and
           Fast Recovery
    RFC1792 TCP/IPX         T. Sung        April             EXP
           Connection Mib                 1995
    RFC1791 TCP And UDP Over T. Sung        April             EXP
           IPX Networks                   1995
           With Fixed Path
    RFC1739 A Primer On     G. Kessler, S. December Obsoleted INFO
           Internet and    Shepard        1994     by
           TCP/IP Tools                             RFC2151
    RFC1693 An Extension to T. Connolly,   November          EXP
           TCP : Partial   P. Amer, P.    1994
           Order Service   Conrad
    RFC1644 T/TCP -- TCP    R. Braden      July 1994 Updates  EXP
           Extensions for                           RFC1379
    RFC1379 Extending TCP   R. Braden      November Updated  INFO
           for Transactions               1992     by
           -- Concepts                              RFC1644
    RFC1347 TCP and UDP with R. Callon      June 1992          INFO
           Bigger Addresses
           (TUBA), A Simple
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
           Proposal for
           Addressing and
    RFC1337 TIME-WAIT       R. Braden      May 1992          INFO
           Hazards in TCP
    RFC1323 TCP Extensions  V. Jacobson,   May 1992 Obsoletes PS
           for High        R. Braden, D.           RFC1072,
           Performance     Borman                  RFC1185
    RFC1273 Measurement     M.F. Schwartz  Nov-01-           INFO
           Study of Changes               1991
           in Service-Level
           Reachability in
           the Global
           TCP/IP Internet:
           and Policy
    RFC1263 TCP Extensions  S. O'Malley,   Oct-01-           INFO
           Considered      L.L. Peterson  1991
    RFC1213 Management      K. McCloghrie, Mar-01-  Obsoletes STD
    STD0017 Information Base M.T. Rose      1991     RFC1158,
           for Network                              Updated
           Management of                            by
           TCP/IP-based                             RFC2011,
           internets:MIB-                           RFC2012,
           II                                       RFC2013
    RFC1195 Use of OSI IS-IS R.W. Callon    Dec-01-  Obsoletes PS
           for routing in                 1990     RFC1158
           TCP/IP and dual                          Updated
           environments                             by
    RFC1185 TCP Extension   V. Jacobson,   Oct-01-  Obsoleted EXP
           for High-Speed  R.T. Braden,   1990     by
           Paths           L. Zhang                RFC1323
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
    RFC1180 TCP/IP tutorial  T.J.           Jan-01-           INFO
                            Socolofsky,    1991
                            C.J. Kale
    RFC1158 Management      M.T. Rose      May-01-  Obsoleted PS
           Information Base               1990     by
           for network                              RFC1213
           management of
           internets: MIB-
    RFC1156 Management      K. McCloghrie, May-01-  Obsoletes HIST
           Information Base M.T. Rose      1990     RFC1066
           for network
           management of
    RFC1155 Structure and   M.T. Rose, K.  May-01-  Obsoletes STANDARD
    STD0016 identification  McCloghrie     1990     RFC1065
           of management
           information for
    RFC1147 FYI on a Network R.H. Stine     Apr-01-  Obsoletes INFO
           Management Tool                1990     RFC1065
           Catalog: Tools                           Obsoleted
           for Monitoring                           by
           and Debugging                            RFC1470
           TCP/IP Internets
    RFC1146 TCP alternate   J. Zweig, C.   Mar-01-  Obsoletes EXP
           checksum        Partridge      1990     RFC1145
    RFC1145 TCP alternate   J. Zweig, C.   Feb-01-  Obsoleted EXP
           checksum        Partridge      1990     by
           options                                  RFC1146
    RFC1144 Compressing     V. Jacobson    Feb-01-           PS
           TCP/IP headers                 1990
           for low-speed
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
           serial links
    RFC1110 Problem with the A.M. McKenzie  Aug-01-           UN
           TCP big window                 1989
    RFC1106 TCP big window  R. Fox         Jun-01-           UN
           and NAK options                1989
    RFC1095 Common          U.S. Warrier,  Apr-01-  Obsoleted UN
           Management      L. Besaw       1989     by
           Information                              RFC1189
           Services and
           Protocol over
           TCP/IP (CMOT)
    RFC1086 ISO-TP0 bridge  J.P. Onions,   Dec-01-           UN
           between TCP and M.T. Rose      1988
    RFC1085 ISO presentation M.T. Rose      Dec-01-           UN
           services on top                1988
           of TCP/IP based
    RFC1078 TCP port service M. Lottor      Nov-01-           UN
           Multiplexer                    1988
    RFC1072 TCP extensions  V. Jacobson,   Oct-01-  Obsoleted UN
           for long-delay  R.T. Braden    1988     by
           paths                                    RFC1323,
    RFC1066 Management      K. McCloghrie, Aug-01-  Obsoleted UN
           Information Base M.T. Rose      1988     by
           for network                              RFC1156
           management of
    RFC1065 Structure and   K. McCloghrie, Aug-01-  Obsoleted STANDARD
           identification  M.T. Rose      1988     by
           of management                            RFC1155
           information for
    RFC1025 TCP and IP bake J. Postel      Sep-01-           UN
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                       Standards, What Standards?          October 2003
           off                            1987
    RFC0983 ISO transport   D.E. Cass,     Apr-01-  Obsoleted UN
           arrives on top  M.T. Rose      1986     by
           of the TCP                               RFC1006
    RFC0962 TCP-4 prime     M.A. Padlipsky Nov-01-           UN
    RFC0896 Congestion      J. Nagle       Jan-06-           UN
           control in                     1984
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