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Preparing for IETF 108 Online

  • 17 Jun 2020

Almost immediately after the IETF 107 meeting concluded, discussions began about how the experience of participating in IETF meetings online could be improved.

With preparations in progress for the IETF 108 Online meeting on 25-31 July, here’s a brief update on work underway, including some efforts aimed at addressing responses to a survey of IETF participants just after IETF 107.

The main collaboration platform for IETF 108 will be Meetecho, which has been used for online participation in IETF meetings for many years. Meetecho is WebRTC-based, IPv6-enabled, and integrates XMPP chat (jabber) and Etherpad. In addition to IETF 108, Meetecho is being used for the IETF Hackathon and Newcomers’ webinar sessions scheduled to take place ahead of IETF 108 week. We are planning to have it available for virtual interim meetings some time after IETF 108.

Until now Meetecho has run on the infrastructure that the NOC builds onsite at each IETF meeting. For IETF 108, Meetecho will run in the cloud as this provides flexible scaling and global distribution of services. Our thanks to Google Cloud Developer Relations for their kind donation of hosting credits and support. Running it in the cloud also makes it easier for remote support by Meetecho and the NOC team, both of whom will be actively supporting our remote participation services during IETF 108. They are also working on a new public dashboard to give the community insight into the volumes that Meetecho is handling during the meeting. 

During meeting week, the IETF Datatracker agenda will be the best starting point for most meeting participants. It will have information and links to services and materials for each meeting session. Thanks to some great work by both the Datatracker team and the Meetecho team, the two are now linked using OAuth so that access for registered participants to each Meetecho session will be provided using IETF Datatracker credentials.

A major component missing from IETF 107 was informal interactions outside of meeting sessions. To help address that gap, we are hoping to use gather.town, a WebRTC-based virtual hallway experience. There will be a custom “map” that provides some of the usual features of an in-person IETF meeting such as RFC Editor and IANA information desks. It’s an experience that’s hard to explain and definitely worth trying. More information will be provided in the participant guide and we expect there will be several opportunities ahead of the meeting itself to test it out.

Work is also taking place to evaluate CodiMD as a replacement for Etherpad as this solves a number of problems with Etherpad that have been reported by the community.  If this change is made then it should be fairly transparent as CodiMD will be integrated into Meetecho replacing the Etherpad integration.

Throughout meeting week, there will be ongoing support by the IETF Secretariat and NOC team. The usual channels for requesting general assistance and meeting information (mtd@ietf.org) as well as reporting technical issues with Meetecho and audio streams (tickets@meeting.ietf.org) will be available. Additionally, we expect to have help stations in the virtual hallway space just before, during, and after scheduled sessions.

With all the newness, you’ll want to take some time to prepare in advance. Be sure to review the guide documentation which will be published as the beginning of the meeting nears and plan to set aside some time to join one of the testing sessions planned to accommodate various time zones during the week of 13 July.

And, if you haven’t yet registered for IETF 108 remember that thanks to meeting host Ericsson, there are t-shirts available for those who register early.