The IETF is dead

Posted on April 5, 2012 by Tommy McGuire
Labels: protocols, http

The IETF is dead.

Ok, so that's not news, to anyone who's been paying attention at all in the last fifteen years. The IETF always was a dreadfully confused, disorganized mass of flames and lunacy. But for a long time, it was a functional mass of flames and lunacy. Unfortunately, according to this c|net article, the IETF has gone and become what it was originally started to avoid.

Ok, so one of the other perennial facts about the IETF is that no journalistic entity, including c|net, could find their IETF-related rump with both hands, a map, and a native guide. But still, we're looking at some very bad signs.

For one,

Mark Nottingham, chairman of the HTTP Working Group, acknowledged SPDY's position with a presentation slide titled "Elephant, meet Room." (PDF). But he was careful to note that SPDY hasn't carried the day.

"We'll discuss SPDY because it's here, but other proposals will be discussed too," Nottingham said in his presentation, and added, "If we do choose SPDY as a starting point, that doesn't mean it won't change."

Once upon a time, the IETF had this saying, something about "rough consensus and running code". Now, I've been around the Internet for long enough not to buy rough consensus and I'm a little leery of a protocol from Google purporting to improve the web, particularly one which would at first glance rule out content delivery networks. But SPDY is running. The other proposals mentioned in the article aren't.

Second, Mark Nottingham's presentation, "HTTP/2.0".... A slide deck? At an IETF meeting? Really?

So here's a prediction for you: Come July 29 (IETF 84, Vancouver), there'll be proposals a-plenty, along with a considerable amount of rhetoric. Come IETF N, a few years later, the rhetoric will continue unabated. Some protocol, either HTTP/1.1 or a possibly-modified SPDY will be in common use, making the rhetoric pointless. Another success for the IETF standardization process. At least it keeps the professional meeting-goers happy and out of everyone else's hair.

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