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Security top concern for new IETF chair

Security top concern for new IETF chair

Russ Housley talks to Carolyn Duffy Marsan about his security strategy for the Internet

The debate on IPv6 seems to have changed significantly this year, from a futuristic possibility to an inevitability. What is your view of IPv6 deployment -- when and how it will happen?

When it will happen is sooner rather than later. But I think that the business model for the large Internet service providers still has to do with it. When they can make money from IPv6 is when they'll roll it out. The cost pressures on getting more IPv4 addresses will tilt the scale eventually. [IETF participant] Geoff Houston gave a talk on how fast IPv4 addresses are being given out. He has a projected date for when he thinks they are going to run out. He thinks it's March 2010. My view is that enterprises need to start planning for IPv6 now because it's coming. We need to have people deploy IPv6 now so that the entire Internet supports both [IPv4 and IPv6] stacks so that the transition can be more smooth.

What advice would you offer to corporate network managers about IPv6 adoption?

Start now. I think that the profile work that [the National Institute of Standards and Technology] is doing will serve as a good starting place for any enterprise that's starting that endeavor. Leverage their work.

What do you see as the most exciting work going on in the IETF right now?

I think Hokey is very exciting. It involves handover keying. I think it's exciting because it's an attempt to allow secure handover across different kinds of networks, including wired and wireless and various different types of wireless so a mobile device can move across those networks seamlessly and securely. It would be a very important infrastructure element to the future of the Internet that many of us see. The group has met only two or three times. There's a lot of interesting work going on in the IETF, but if you want to know which one is tearing down big barriers, that's Hokey.

What are the IETF's biggest challenges going forward?

Establishing better working relationships through liaisons to other standards development organizations, especially the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunications Standards Sector and Third Generation Partnership Project.

How is the IETF doing in terms of attendance and administrative processes?

Things are significantly improved, although we still need to deal with some things on the financial front. Our revenue is lower than we expected, so we need to do some things. We had lower attendance at this meeting. We're about 90 people short of our projections. Where is the shortage coming from? Some Chinese participants are not here because of visa issues. Some Cisco folks aren't here because of a meeting with a big customer. But that doesn't account for 90 people. Our attendance at this meeting is 1,146 people. Our Montreal meeting last summer was 1,236.

Is the IETF still doing the most important standards work on the Internet?

I think so. I wouldn't have done this job if I thought the IETF was plummeting. I think we have the coolest work going. Other standards groups are totally dependent on us keeping the Internet working well.

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