RIPE NCC Review

  • To: ripe-org@localhost
  • From: k13@localhost (Rob Blokzijl)
  • Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1993 15:55:43 +0100
  • Address: Kruislaan 409, P.O. Box 41882, 1009 DB Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Organisation: Nikhef-H (National Institute for Nuclear and High-Energy Physics)
  • Phone: +31 20 5925102, +31 20 6924218 (home)
  • Telefax: +31 20 5925155
  • Telex: 10262 hef nl

Dear Colleagues,

   find below the final draft of the RIPE NCC Review paper.
   The text reflects all discussions and remarks from the last RIPE meeting.
   As agreed at that time, you have 2 weeks for final comments. After that
   the draft will be turned into a RIPE approved document.

Regards,

   Rob


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			    RIPE NCC Review


			       R.Blokzijl
			       M.Sterba
			       W.Woeber

			  30 September 1993

			       Version 2


   1. Summary

      After the first 18 months of operation of the RIPE NCC a review of the
      work performed has been undertaken by RIPE. Input for the review
      procedure were the following documents:

	 o RIPE NCC Activity Plan [ref.: ripe-035], which is included as
	   Appendix A in this report.

	 o The progress reports that are produced quarterly by the RIPE NCC.

      The findings of the review panel are:

	 o The RIPE NCC has performed an excellent job in the first 18 months
	   of operations. Most of the goals defined in ripe-035 have been
	   met.

	 o A few activities defined in ripe-035 have either not been started,
	   or are lacking progress. These have been reported in due course by
	   the RIPE NCC management; they are discussed in more details in the
	   next sections of this report.

	 o The RIPE NCC has taken up activities that were never defined in
	   the ripe-035 document. These activities have always had the prior
	   consent of the RIPE community.

	 o A new definition of the RIPE NCC activity plan is needed. The
	   review panel recommends that RIPE reaches agreement on such a
	   document by January 1994.
      
      In the next sections of this report background information about RIPE
      and the RIPE NCC is given, followed by a detailed discussion of the
      workings of the RIPE NCC.

      This document has been approved as representing the views of RIPE.



   2. Background

      2.1 About RIPE

	  RIPE (Reseaux IP Europeens) is a collaborative organisation open to
	  all European Internet service providers. The objective of RIPE is
	  to ensure the necessary administrative and technical coordination
	  to allow the operation of a pan-European IP network. RIPE does not
	  operate a network of its own.

	  RIPE has been functioning since 1989. Currently more then 60
	  organisations participate in the work. The result of the RIPE
	  coordination effort is that the individual end-user is presented on
	  his desktop with a uniform IP service, irrespective of the
	  particular network his or her workstation is attached to. In
	  September 1993, more than 450,000 hosts throughout Europe are
	  reachable via networks coordinated by RIPE. The total number of
	  systems reachable worldwide is estimated at close to two million.

      2.2 About the RIPE NCC

	  The RIPE Network Coordination Centre supports all those RIPE
	  activities which cannot be effectively performed by volunteers from
	  the participating organisations. Besides supporting RIPE
	  activities in general, the RIPE NCC provides the following services
	  to network operators:

	     o network management database containing information about IP
	       networks, DNS domains, IP routing policies and contact
	       information

	     o delegated Internet registry, a clearing house distributing IP
	       network numbers
	
	     o coordinated network statistics gathering

	     o domain name system (DNS) coordination

	     o graphical maps of IP networks

	     o repository for network operations software

	     o RIPE document store

	     o interactive information service

	  The RIPE NCC started operations on April 1st, 1992, and currently
	  has 3 permanent staff members.

	  The RARE association provides the formal framework for the RIPE NCC.
	  Funding for the first year of operation of the RIPE NCC has been
	  provided by EARN, the national members of RARE, Israel and EUnet.



   3. Evaluation of Technical Activities defined in the Activity Plan

      3.1 Technical -- Coordination Activities

      3.1.1 The RIPE Database

            This task is performed by the NCC according to the Activity plan.
	    New objects and attributes have been added as agreed by the RIPE
	    community.  New tools for checking, maintaining and distributing
	    the database are being implemented. 
	    Reports are handled through the Quarterly Reports in an excellent
	    way.

      3.1.2 Distribution of the Database

	    The distribution of the database is possible, and has occured in
	    a few cases. The central server has proven to be extremely
	    reliable, so demand for this facility is low.

      3.1.3 Coordination of Database exchange with other Organisations

	    This is permanently pursued. In cooperation with the InterNIC and
	    Merit an exchange format has been defined. Good progress has
	    been made, the delay in implementation of the actual exchanges is
	    not attributable to the RIPE NCC.

      3.1.4 Keep a record of IP connectivity in Europe

	    This is progressing, albeit slowly. However we think this activity
	    could be reviewed in the light of recent developments on the
	    organisational background of networking in Europe. A more
	    distributed approach could be advisable.

      3.1.5 Keep an inventory of IP infrastructures not yet interconnected

	    Basically this is done via the RIPE DB, though this could be only
	    up to date from the moment the NCC started registering IP
	    networks for Europe.

      3.1.6 Keep a record of operational contact points

	    This has been implemented by way of mailing distribution lists
	    that enable subscribed networks to keep in contact. 

      3.1.7 DNS Software

	    Operational issues are coordinated by the RIPE DNS WG. The NCC
	    maintains an archive of relevant software and documentation.

      3.1.8 Placement of name servers and backup servers in Europe, and
            beyond

	    The RIPE NCC does a monthly analysis of the European DNS space,
	    resulting in the famous hostcounts, and a set of comprehensive
	    error reports for all European domains. It is our opinion that
	    further quality control of the DNS space, is up to the responsible
	    organisations on a top level basis.

      3.1.9 Gather traffic statistics and network performance data

	    Basically no progress has been made in these fields. It is our
	    opinion that these activities belong to various network
	    operators, not a central organisation such as the RIPE NCC. 
	    The RIPE NCC could provide a store facility for those providers
	    who wish to publish their statistical data on neutral ground.
	    However, the role of the RIPE NCC in gathering quality of service
	    data needs to be discussed by RIPE.


      3.2 Technical -- Development Activities

      3.2.1 DB Management Tools

	    The development of more sophisticated DB management tools has
	    been an ongoing activity, resulting in a very stable and able
	    database service. The definition of new tools has been done in
	    close cooperation with the RIPE Working groups on Routing,
	    Local-IR and DB, thus ensuring the fulfillment of user needs.

      3.2.2 DB Querying Tools

	    This has resulted in improved versions of client software that
	    are being used widely. Also the integration with most commonly
	    used information retrieval tools is excellent.

      3.2.3 Network Statistics and Performance gathering and presentation
            tools

	    Not much progress has been achieved. The need for these tools is
	    clear, but a more precise definition of the role, and the amount
	    of resources, of the RIPE NCC is needed.

      3.2.4 DNS Quality Control Tools

	    Tools are available from the RIPE NCC server.

      3.2.5 Tools for drawing network diagrams

	    A repository and a common naming scheme for network maps have been
	    implemented. No further progress has been made in this area.
	    We do feel that the work should have some priority, but whether
	    it should be done by the RIPE NCC is debatable. A special project
	    might be more appropriate.

      
      3.3 Administrative -- RIPE Activity Support

      3.3.1 Keeping the RIPE document store

	    This has been implemented in an extremely friendly way for the end
	    users: all commonly available information retrieval tools give
	    access to the document store. The document store itself is kept up
	    to date, and has been implemented in a well structured way.

      3.3.2 Technical and secretarial support for studies undertaken by RIPE

	    This has been working quite well. We should probably try to put
	    in place a chasing mechanism for work items issued from RIPE 
	    meetings i.e. more follow-up on the WG's and WG chairs.

      3.3.3 Organisational support for RIPE meetings

	    This works extremely well, and has substantially augmented the
	    productivity of the RIPE meetings.


      3.4 Administrative - Reporting

      3.4.1 Quarterly reports on all activities will be produced for the RIPE
            participating organisations and the RARE CoA

      3.4.2 Quarterly reports on outstanding problems will be produced for
            the RIPE participating organisations and the RARE CoA

	    We conclude that excellent quarterly reports have been produced
	    in a timely fashion. They consist of detailed descriptions of the
	    accomplishments of the RIPE NCC, a discussion of outstanding
	    problems, and excellent overviews of the state of the Internet in
	    Europe. They not only serve as administrative reportings, but
	    also as reference material for network administrators and
	    operators.

      3.4.3 the NCC reports on its ongoing work and outstanding problems
            also to each RIPE meeting.

	    This has been done at each RIPE meeting. Especially presentation
	    of outstanding problems is of importance, since in most cases
	    participation and decision by RIPE is needed to resolve them.

      3.4.4 The NCC will produce annual reports

	    At the time of writing of this report, the first RIPE NCC annual
	    report has just been produced.

   4. Evaluation of Technical Activities not defined in the Activity Plan

      During the first 18 months of operation of the RIPE NCC several
      activities that were not defined in the activity plan have been
      started. The mechanism for starting such activities has been that
      proposals were put forward, either by a RIPE Working Group or by the
      RIPE NCC, to RIPE. They have subsequently been discussed within RIPE
      and, where a positive conclusion was reached, been implemeted by the
      RIPE NCC.

      4.1 European IP registry

          In July 1992 the Internet Registry requested that the RIPE NCC
          handle all IP network number applications from European
          organisations.  After quickly consulting the RIPE chair and the
          relevant working groups the NCC complied with the request even
          though there had been no time to get all the necessary procedures
          fully established.  The main rationale for this step was to
          off-load the IR and improve response times for European
          organisations as early as possible.  From August 1st 1992, all
          requests received by the Internet Registry from European
          organisations were forwarded to the RIPE NCC.  This included both
          e-mail and letter applications. 
      
          In order to achieve a distributed registry system from the start
          the NCC made an effort to locate as many service providers as
          possible and to delegate blocks of class C network numbers to them
          for reassignment.  At the same time, country registries were asked
          to identify themselves as organisations to whom the NCC could
          further delegate the allocation of class C IP numbers to
          organisations without an IP service provider. 
      
          The distributed registry system is in place now with 60+ service
          provider registries and 21 non-service provider (country)
          registries.  After one year of operation the European registry system
          had assigned more than 14000 IP network numbers. 

	  It is the opinion of the review panel that the registry function is
	  extremely well handled by the NCC. Both the timeliness and the
	  accuracy of the daily operations have greatly contributed to the
	  well organised growth of the Internet in Europe.

      
      4.2 Project participation

          At the 13th RIPE meeting in September 1992, RIPE decided to
          coordinate technical development activities with RARE.  As a
          result two such projects have been defined and executed as part of
          the RARE technical program at the RIPE NCC.  The two projects were:
      
            o European Route Server
      
            o Generic Internet Service Description
      
          These projects were executed by additional staff and resources
          funded independently from the other NCC activities.  The RIPE NCC
          has provided some resources to get the projects going and to
          manage them.  Both projects have been concluded successfully and
          have benefited greatly from the NCC environment.  On the other
          hand the NCC has benefited from interesting development work
          being done there. 
      
          The Route Server project has lead to the definition of a new
          project called
      
            o Policy based Routing Implementation and Deployment in Europe
      
          which is expected to be managed in a similar manner. 

	  In our opinion the participation of the RIPE NCC in these projects
	  has been implemented in such a way that both the RIPE NCC and the
	  projects have benefitted from this collaboration. We have noticed
	  on the other hand that the daily core activities of the NCC have
	  not been influenced by this participation.

      4.3 Referral Services

          Because of its well known position and coordinating role, the NCC
          receives requests which need to be referred to other
          organisations.  The most delicate of those are requests for
          Internet service.  In order to remain neutral towards the service
          providers, no direct referrals are made in these cases.  The
          request including contact details for the requester is re-sent to
          a mailing list of all service providers who can then get in touch
          with the prospective customer if they wish. 

	  It is our opinion that the referral service is well received by the
	  community. The effort of the RIPE NCC to preserve its impartiality
	  is well appriciated.

      4.4 Presentations

          The NCC is regularly asked to give presentations about aspects
          of its work to service providers and at conferences. The NCC 
          honours many of these requests in order to widely disseminate 
          information about NCC and European Internet procedures.

	  The mere fact that the NCC keeps receiving these requests is
	  adequate proof that this service is well appreciated.


   5. Conclusions

      We have concluded that the RIPE NCC has in its first year of operations
      achieved the goals that were aimed at back in 1991. The flying start of
      most of the activities within the first few weeks of operations has
      been extremely impressive. Even more impressive has been the way the
      RIPE NCC staff has been able to keep up the momentum.

      A careful analysis of the original Activity Plan has shown that in a
      few areas the progress has not been as was foreseen. We recommend that
      RIPE has a careful look at these areas and decides on their relative
      importance for the near future.

      On the other hand, we have found that certain areas of activity have
      taken much more resources then was originally foreseen. The activities
      concern mainly the IP Registry function of the RIPE NCC. It is
      interesting to notice that this activity is not even explicitly
      mentioned in the Activity Plan!

      Another area that the current activity plan has not foreseen is the
      involvement of the RIPE NCC in special projects. This requires
      resources on the management level and on the technical level. Though
      the projects are formally separately staffed and funded, the fact that
      they are housed in the RIPE NCC automatically means that some NCC
      resources go into these projects. This has been intentional, but it is
      not covered by the Activity Plan.

      We conclude that the RIPE NCC has become a focal point for development
      activities in many areas of Internet technology. We therefore strongly
      recommend that RIPE defines a new Activity Plan for the RIPE NCC, taking
      into account the analysis above, and the actual set of activities of the
      RIPE NCC as they have developed over the first year of operations.


   6. Acknowledgements

      We would like to thank the following persons for their involvement in
      preparing this report:

	Roland Acra 		acra@localhost
	Tony Bates 		tony@localhost
	Blasco Bonito 		bonito@localhost
	Daniele Bovio 		hi@localhost
	Francis Dupont 		<francis.dupont@localhost
	Gilles Farrache		farrache@localhost
	Nandor Horvath 		horvath@localhost
	Jean-Michel Jouanigot 	jimi@localhost
	Daniel Karrenberg 	dfk@localhost
	Anne Lord 		anne@localhost
	Mike Norris		mnorris@localhost
	Bernhard Stockman 	boss@localhost
	Marten Terpstra 	marten@localhost
	Geza Turchanyi 		turchanyi@localhost
	Ruediger Volk 		rv@localhost
	Vladimir Vrabec 	vrabec@localhost



   Appendix A
   ----------


                          RIPE NCC

                        Activity Plan



                         R. Blokzijl
                         May 5, 1991
                        ref.: ripe-35


   Introduction

   This document describes the activity plan for the proposed RIPE Network
   Coordination Center (NCC). As such it must be regarded as a technical
   annex to the document proposing the installation of an NCC (ripe-19).

   In the NCC proposal it is recommended to have a separate
   organisation that is responsible for the execution of a certain
   number of tasks that are indispensible for the proper management of IP
   networks on a European scale.  The nature of these tasks is such that
   it has proven to be extremely difficult to execute them as a voluntary
   effort on an ongoing, regular basis.  Also the efficiency of the work
   would be greatly improved with a centralised execution of the tasks.

   The individual work items are described below. It should be stressed
   that regular reporting (weekly, monthly and yearly) on the progress of
   the work is foreseen for all work items.

   1   Technical - Coordination Activities

       1 Maintain a database of European IP networks and their management
         information. The database to be maintained will contain several
	 classes of objects.
         These objects are described in detail in ripe-13.  At the moment the
         following object classes have been defined:

            (a) Networks
            (b) Responsible persons
            (c) Domains
            (d) Routers
            (e) International lines
            (f) Name Servers

         The NCC will be responsible for the database entries; this includes

            (a) collection of database entries
            (b) checking of individual entries
            (c) checking of consistency and integrity of the database

         Weekly reports on changes in the contents of the database will be
	 produced, together with statistics about the number of database
	 entries.

       2 Distribution of the database.
         Secondary copies of the database can be installed at other sites
	 upon request. It is the responsability of the NCC to keep track of
	 such secondaries, and to keep the contents consistent.
         An up to date record of secondary sites will be maintained on line.

       3 Coordination of database exchange with other organisations.
         The NCC will coordinate and execute the exchange of database
	 information with NCC's outside Europe. The result will be that for
	 the end user of the database one uniform set of global information
	 will be available.

       4 Keep a record of existing IP connectivity in Europe, and between
         Europe and other continents.
         The record shall consist of a set of maps that catalogue the existing
	 connectivity in Europe. These maps fall into three main categories:

            (a) International connectivity inside Europe
            (b) Connectivity between Europe and other continents
            (c) Connectivity inside European countries and or networks

         The last category depends heavily on cooperation with individual NOC's.

         The maps to be produced will be made available on line in the form of
	 a set of PostScript files for remote retrieval and reproduction.
	 Adequate tools for providing the maps (both hardware and software)
	 must be available.

         The updated maps will be published on a monthly basis.

       5 Keep an inventory of IP infrastructures not yet interconnected.
         This information will be kept in the same format as the maps of the
         interconnected networks. The collection and integration of the
	 information depends heavily on the cooperation of individual NOC's.

         The updated maps will be published on a monthly basis.

       6 Keep a record of operational contact points.
         This will consist of a list of NOC's and responsible people that will
	 be used as a reference list for the individual NOC's to be used in
	 case of network related incidents, including security incidents.

         Individual NOC's will be able to subscribe to a weekly update service.

       7 Maintain a list of recommended DNS software and known bugs.
         The result will be available on a server in the form of software and
         reports of known bugs, recommendations, etc.

         A subscription service for change and update reports will be
	 maintained.

       8 Placement of name servers and backup servers in Europe, and beyond.
         On a regular basis the interworking between the DNS name servers in
         Europe, and their connections to name servers outside Europe, must be
         checked.  Detected errors and inconsistencies must be reported to the
         responsible persons; corrective actions must be followed. The result
	 will be a consistent set of name servers.

       9 Gather traffic statistics and network performance data.
         Traffic statistics will be gathered in an orderly way from a set of
	 well defined routers. The result will be regular reports on traffic
	 volumes and network performance.


   2  Technical - Development Activities

      NICs and NOCs and the NCC need special purpose software tools for their
      work. While some of these tools are available commercially others will
      have to either be obtained from the public domain or specially
      developed to suit local needs. The NCC will collect, develop, document
      and test such tools in order to make them available to the RIPE
      community. While some basic support will be given the NCC will not
      provide full support for these tools.

      1 Database management tools.
        Tools for management of the database and their maintenance are an im-
        portant work item for the NCC. The result will be the availability of a
        consistent database.

      2 Database querying tools.
        Development and maintenance of the whois utility. The result will be a
        program, available from a file server, that permits remote
	interrogation of the database.

      3 Tools for gathering and presenting network usage statistics and
        performance data.
        Software has to be collected, developed and maintained for gathering
	statistical data. The result will be a set of tools, available from a
	file server, together with documentation and recommendations for use.
	This will enable the RIPE community to gather and present statistics
	in a uniform way.

      4 DNS quality control tools.
        Utilities for quality control of the interworking of the DNS name
	servers will be developed and maintained. The result will be a set of
	software and documentation, available from a server.

      5 Tools for drawing network diagrams.
        Network diagrams have become complicated objects nowadays, and the
        amount of work needed to draw them is no longer negligible. Some effort
        should be dedicated to study the possibility to generate them in a more
        automatic way from existing databases.  The result will be more up to
        date and more accurate network diagrams.



   3  Administrative - RIPE Activity Support

      The NCC will give the following support to the RIPE activities:

      1 Keeping the RIPE document store.
        The NCC will keep RIPE documents online and easily accessible to the
        RIPE community.

      2 Technical and secretarial support for studies undertaken by RIPE.
        The NCC will provide technical and clerical support for RIPE studies and
        task forces in order to enhance continuity and coordination of the work
        between RIPE meetings.

      3 Organisational support for RIPE meetings. RIPE meeting attendance is
        expected to be on the order of 40 persons in the near future. The NCC
        will provide clerical support to organise these meetings in order to
	keep them productive.


   4  Administrative - Reporting

      The NCC will follow the following general reporting procedures:

      1 quarterly reports an all activities will be produced for the RIPE
        participating organisations and the RARE CoA.

      2 quarterly reports on outstanding problems will be produced for the RIPE
        participating organisations and the RARE CoA.

      3 the NCC reports on its ongoing work and outstanding problems also to
        each RIPE meeting.  These meetings take currently place three times a
        year.

      4 The NCC will produce annual reports. These will be available on the 31st
        of January following the year to be reported on.


   5  Requirements for an NCC

      The following requirements for the running of the RIPE NCC have been
      identified:

         o staff:

           - 1.0 FTE NCC manager with proven skills in:
                *Internet network technology, applied to large scale networks
                *Management and communication
                *Working in an international environment
             The NCC manager must be willing to take the position for a period
             of at least 3 years.

           - 1.0 FTE NCC technical staff with proven skills in:
                *Internet network technology, applied to large scale networks
                *Working in an international environment

             The NCC technical officer must be willing to take the position
	     for a period of at least 1 year.

           - 1.5 FTE Administrative staff, with proven skills in:
                *Administrative work
                *Using advanced computing equipment
                *Working in an international environment
             The NCC administrative officer must be willing to take the position
             for a period of at least 2 years.

         o equipment:

           - work-stations with X-windows capability for staff
           - an adequate minicomputer to support the work-stations and to house
             the data bases
           - excellent IP networking access, both European and intercontinental
           - excellent mail connectivity
           - support for OSI based services

         o office space:

           - 2 offices with the normal operational overheads
           - communication costs allocation

         o location:

           It is essential that the actual place where the NCC is located, is
           close to an operating NOC and other RIPE activities. This will make
           it possible to keep the number of NCC staff limited, while still
           providing fertile grounds where NCC activities will florish.

         o travel budget:

           It is foreseen that NCC staff will have to make at least the
	   following travels on a yearly basis:
              - attend all RIPE meetings
              - attend 6 meetings in Europe
              - attend 4 meetings outside Europe