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  • By Praneet Kaur

Connection 2019 - Speaker Series: Adrian Farrel

I am sure most of you would have heard by now that IIESoc have been working for "Connections 2019" - a Pre-IETF 106 forum in Kolkata on November 13th - November 14th 2019, to get protocol developers, academicians and network operators together on the same platform to discuss the latest problems facing the internet and the solutions relevant to them. This is being done with a focus on India and Indian contributions to the Internet.

This blog is part of the speaker series that introduces the various amazing speakers that are part of the event. Second in the series is Adrian Farrel.


Bio: Adrian Farrel is an innovator and standards-maker in Internet technologies working within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) where he has participated in the development of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Generalized MPLS (GMPLS), Path Computation Element (PCE), and various technologies. He served as one of two IETF Routing Area Directors for six years and was chair of the CCAMP, L1VPN, L3SM, L2SM, I2NSF, and PCE Working Groups. He is the co-author of over 70 RFCs, currently serves as the Independent Submissions RFC Editor, and has written, edited, or contributed to seven books on Internet technologies and four books of fairy stories.

He would giving a keynote talk on IETF and a technical talk in the Routing track.


Contributing to the IETF- how to play your part, and how RFCs are made: Making standards for the Internet is not magic, but it is hard work. The IETF's specifications depend on engineering excellence and collaborative work from experts, designers, academics and most importantly from implementers. In a high-pressure environments focused on getting it right, there can be many different commercial incentives and there are a lot of strong opinions. But you can contribute to make your mark and to make the Internet work better. This talk will give you some pointers on how the IETF works, how RFCs come about, and the best ways to penetrate the IETF's unique culture and get involved.

Network Slicing and Enhanced VPNs: 5G wireless networks offer the prospect of a large range of sophisticated services for the end-user and for connecting intelligent devices. But delivering those services requires that the underlying network delivers advanced quality guarantees of throughput, loss, delay, and jitter. A popular way of ensuring that these quality guarantees can be met is by partitioning the network resources in a technique called "network slicing." This talk will look at the techniques developed in the IETF to meet the needs of network slicing. One of the approaches is known as "enhanced VPNs" or "VPN+" and builds on existing VPN concepts to deliver network slices of different types and qualities to enable and support 5G services.


We also asked Adrian a few questions regarding his IETF contributions and involvement.

1. How did you get involved in the IETF? Was there a particular issue that led to your involvement? I was working for British software house, Data Connection, and we were looking for the next thing in communications having just completed a suite of ATM products. MPLS was rearing its head and I started to read the Internet-Drafts that existed to try to work out what we could implement. Pretty soon I had some questions for the authors and also a pile of editorial suggestions and clarifications that I offered up on the mailing list.

My first IETF meeting was IETF-40 held in Washington DC in December 1997. A remarkable meeting where the MPLS working group filled all the chairs and people sat on the floor in the gangways and all around the front of the room. I distinguished myself at that meeting by wearing a tie - it hadn't occurred to me to read any background information!

2. What is your opinion on the importance of the IETF in the Internet eco-system?

The IETF is *the* standards body for the Internet. Of course, the same work could be done by any standards body, but the IETF has the experience and knowledge-base which is incredibly important as the "why" and "how" of the Internet is crucial for successful extension and development. I also think that the way the IETF works with direct collaboration between engineers and open access to all our work and standards underlies the strength of the Internet.

3. What technical changes do you see coming in the next few years?

All of the obvious things like a continued growth in traffic, the move of more and more things to a distributed cloud, a significant increase in the number of people who can access the Internet, a massive rise in the number of attached devices, and application demands for higher quality of service. But what is interesting to me about these things is how they will change the core assumptions about how the Internet is built.

Obviously we are finally seeing a big swing towards IPv6, and security and privacy have been recognised as crucial elements of tomorrow's Internet. There are also some fundamental shifts in how the plumbing of the Internet works, with changes to forwarding and routing for service function chaining, segment routing, and data centre operation getting a lot of attention in the IETF. I also anticipate pressure to make the IP layer more deterministic to address the needs of future applications (including those introduced by 5G), and this will challenge both the protocols and the architecture of the Internet.

Finally, we are seeing a steady increase in the number of people who are connected to the Internet. This growth is not as fast as it should be because of the financial barriers and technological hurdles involved. But some attention is at last being paid to these issues and this will hopefully see a massive democratization of the Internet which will place demands on the technologies used for identification, authentication, payment, and languages.

4. What are some of the most interesting changes you have seen at the IETF? When I started work in the IETF it was predominantly attended by North Americans and Europeans. Now, while preserving a lot of that culture, it is opening up to participation from other regions, especially Asia. I see this as critically important to the future of the organisation because so much of the innovation in the Internet today comes from there. Additionally, the way that networks are built in countries that are seeing huge growth in subscribers is very different to the legacy networks deployed in Europe or the USA.

We are also seeing a growth in remote working. That is actually how things should be because it means that the Internet is delivering on its potential. Thus, attendance at face-to-face meetings has been declining, but there is a dramatic increase in the number of people who participate at those meetings remotely whether on their own or via a hub to the extent that the last couple of meetings have seen around two fifths of the participants being remote. This will prove a challenge for the IETF financially, but my biggest concern is that missing out on physical attendance means losing out on the hugely valuable side meetings and corridor conversations that are actually how work progresses best. I hope that IETF hubs and periodic regional gatherings can help to mitigate this, and I'm sure the IETF will evolve to incorporate this new way of working.

5. What would be your advice for a new-comer from the sub-continent, on how to get involved? It's the same for everyone, and please believe me that I, too, started off not knowing how to participate or how to find a way in to what looks like a pretty closed organisation.


Don't miss this opportunity to join us for the event. The tickets for the event are available at -

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