Complex Problems

Harald Tveit Alvestrand harald at
Wed Jan 8 08:24:57 CET 2003

--On tirsdag, januar 07, 2003 10:51:55 -0800 Marshall Rose 
<mrose at> wrote:

> so, i just don't have a problem letting other entities doing
> macro-engineering, because i think the IETF can figure out how well the
> thing fits. and there are some good examples of this where thing have
> shown up at the IETF via the BOF mechanism and the IAB has produced
> useful documents explaining architecture issues which are used both by
> the IESG in deciding what to charter, and by the resulting WG management
> in guiding the WG activity.
> let's face it: the IETF does well when it does focused engineering.
> there are lots of reasons for this, and while we may disagree with what
> the reasons are and how important each are, it's always best to play to
> your strengths and i think we should keep doing that.
> similarly, i think we should avoid trying to do macro-achitecture inside
> the IETF because the skill-sets and processes are different than what
> you need to do engineering, and the IETF doesn't select for the things
> you need to do goood macro-level work. and i don't have a problem with
> that because sometimes the skill-sets/processes for the two kinds of
> work are contradictory rather than complimentary and we don't need to be
> good at both things so long as we are good enough to understand what
> fits and what doesn't...

there are two things here that seem to be one of those "basic conflicts 
that MUST NOT be permitted to resolve".....

1) The IETF is not a good place to establish sound engineering princpiles

2) The IETF, in order to work well, must have sound engineering principles

there are two ways to live in this field of conflict:

A - "as it was, it is, and shall forever be" - accept our current 
engineering principles as given, and adopt no more. Catenet forever.

B - find a way to adapt, modify and extend our arcitectural prinicples to 
adopt new paradigms, new ways of looking at things, and new concepts into 
the core of what we call "Internet Architecture"

The IETF does not have an organizational external referent that it can 
point to and say "architectural principles come from here". No matter what 
the IAB charter may seem to say.

So if the IETF is to adopt something, the IETF has to do the work of 
figuring out what to adopt, how to adopt it, and realize that it has 
adopted it.

I think the mismatch between the WG short-term engineering model and the 
need to do work at a "principles" level is worthy of being called out as 
part of our "problem statement".


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