ITU, IETF push dueling standards on MPLS features

The IETF says having two standards for troubleshooting tools might threaten the Internet's health

The Internet Engineering Task Force is slamming a decision by the International Telecommunication Union to pursue its own standard for troubleshooting and fault detection in service-provider networks.

The ITU agreed last Friday on first-stage approval of a standard for OAM (operations, administration and maintenance) in transport networks based on MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching). The IETF said this violated an agreement between the two groups and would lead to two separate technologies, possibly threatening the future health of the Internet.

MPLS lets carriers set up logical circuits across their IP (Internet Protocol) networks based on tags placed on IP packets. The protocol, developed by the IETF, can give priority to certain types of traffic and speed its transmission across the Internet. The OAM standard is intended to provide better tools for detecting transmission problems in MPLS networks, pinpointing where they are taking place and quickly resolving them.

Earlier in this decade, the ITU and IETF had both been developing OAM mechanisms but agreed to form a Joint Working Team to determine whether the new specification would be developed through the standards process of the ITU or of the IETF, said IETF Chair Russ Housley. The joint team determined in December 2008 that the new standard would come through the IETF, Housley said. He expects the IETF standard to be completed within six months.

The ITU said a standard was urgently needed and the IETF had not carried out some of the work it had promised to do. "In this case it was clear that a significant part of our membership could not accept any further delay," the ITU said in its statement. Housley said the IETF had made "steady, consistent progress" on the standards process.

"The only complaint that they're really making was that it took long," Housley said. "I'm not saying that either side is totally clean here. I'm just saying we had a[n] agreement."

The IETF said the ITU's decision to pursue its own standard will lead to separate, incompatible technologies being deployed by different vendors and operators. "This situation ensures that the two product groups will not work together," the IETF said in a statement along with the Internet Society. "While this impact may not be immediate, ongoing evolution along this path will jeopardize the globally connected Internet, which is an interoperable network of networks."

Industry analysts questioned the IETF's claim of danger to the Internet. Service providers need to connect to each other in order to provide services, and if they ask equipment vendors to support both standards, they will, said analyst Michael Howard of Infonetics Research. The carrier equipment industry has successfully dealt with other dual standards in the past, he said. In those cases, there were dual implementations until one of the standards eventually won out in the market, he said.

The IETF's Housley acknowledged that vendors could implement both standards. However, this would add cost and complexity to their products, which ultimately will affect the rates that subscribers pay, he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Internet Engineering Task ForceCarrierstelecommunicationNetworkingInternational Telecommunication Union

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?