The demand for IP connections in Europe is growing rapidly. Many regional or even national IP networks exist already, and more are expected in the near future. The need for interconnections within Europe between these various entities is being recognised by all IP users and network providers. Obviously, some minimum level of co-ordination is needed between all parties wishing to have IP connections that go beyond their own realm.
As a first step towards co-ordination on a European scale, a questionnaire was circulated widely a few months ago, trying to get a first impression of the level and size of IP networks and plans for the short time future. On the basis of the results of this questionaire, an initiative was taken to have a first (informal) meeting of representatives of existing wide area IP networks.
This document is a report of the meeting that took place on May 22nd in Amsterdam. The organisations present at the meeting realise that they in no way are a full representation of all the IP WAN activities in Europe; but it was agreed that efforts should be made to come to a true European coverage of all IP activities.
The aim of the meeting was therefore defined as follows:
- Collect as complete as possible all information about ongoing IP WAN activities.
- Take initiatives to set up, co-ordinate and support IP connectivity within Europe.
- Take initiatives to co-ordinate European - USA IP connections.
- Act as a nucleus for a more formal European IP coordination activity.
It was agreed that all issues to be discussed are of a technical nature and do not constitute politics or policy in any way.
As a working title for the activities the meeting adopted the name RIPE (Reseaux IP Europeen).
Daniel Karrenberg distributed forms on which each organisation described their activities in the IP networking field. This information will be made into a report which will serve as a first registry of European IP WAN's. New activities will be added to this document as they occur (and are known). An active policy of collecting the data is to be persued.
As an example of cooperation between different networking organisations, the IP connection between EUnet and NORDUnet was presented and discussed. There exists a 64 Kbit X.25 link between Amsterdam(CWI) and Stockholm(KTH) which is shared by four organisations: EUnet, NORDUnet, HEPnet and EARN. IP is one of the supported protocols on this link. Both NORDUnet and EUnet have an IP link to the USA and they use each others links for backup purposes. Routing information is exchanged between the routers on this link. Some technical routing matters like failing links, backups and rerouting between EUnet and NORDUnet were discussed.
The NSFnet routing was discussed, but it was concluded that this is too expensive to use in the European IP net.
Part of this issue was already discussed in various other agenda points. In particular the connections between the different organisations which already exist or are planned were discussed under Point 2 and are included in the report of activities attached to this document.
The question arose of what model to use for an European IP network. The NSFnet model was discussed, but such a centrally managed and coordinated network will give large financial as well organisational problems in the absence of central European funding.
A workable solution seemed to be to have a decentrally managed, coordinated and financed network, with a representative from each country or networking organisation to form a coordinating committee for the European net. Then the management of the net within country or organisational boundaries is the responsibility of the representative and the coordinating committee will only concern itself with the management of the inter-organisational part of the network. The management and coordinating issues handled by this committee are as stated before pure technical ones.
An informal discussion was held about tools for statistics gathering and traffic monitoring on networks. Information and experiences were exchanged as well as where to find the tools. This information will be collected and reported separately. (Action: Anders Hillbo)
Here the questions what US connections already exist, which will come and how are we going to use them were raised.
The list of activities gives an answer to the first two questions and the EUnet-NORDUnet coordination is a good example of how these lines should be used. It should be avoided that US links are used for traffic between European destinations. Good European backup links and routing should avoid this from happening.
It is proposed that there should be one or more root name server in Europe to reduce traffic and reduce the dependency on US links. Sites mentioned in this perspective are KTH, CWI and CERN. KTH already has a fake root server. When installing name servers the best way is to let every name server (top level) be a secondary server for all other countries within Europe. This way name server traffic is reduced and fault tolerance increased.
All participants agree that there should be some sort of registration of the networks taking part in the European IP net. This way any problems that may occur can be signaled to the responsible person. It was stressed that this registration activity is just a matter of keeping the registry up to date: in no way it should constitute some sort of authority. A 'whois' style of information service was suggested as a useful tool to access registry information. (Action: Anders Hillbo)
Also a list of gateways should be created, describing which networks are authorised to use particular gateways.
No formal policy statements were made and there should be no thresholds for organisations who wish to connect to the net, except for a description of the network and information about contact addresses to be entered into the registry. The need was recognised to write a document describing the ethics and acceptable use of the European IP network. (Action: all)
For the actual use of links and third party networks, separate agreements have to be made between the organisations concerned. It was agreed that the network registry should not contain an exhaustive description of each individual (sub)net in Europe. An hierarchical structure is preferred. NORDUnet uses this principle and this way a tree structure is formed, consisting of people responsible for separate parts of the network.
Problems are reported down this tree to find the responsible person.
The question was raised how to handle shared links, both knowingly and unknowingly. There may be set up some general rules on sharing links.
To design general rules for line sharing seemed to be very difficult in the absence of a formal organisation with some sort of central funding.
The question was raised again what the goal of RIPE should be: a centrally managed European Internet, or a confederation of regional networks. The conclusion was reached that for the moment the confederate model seems to be the most practical one.
The European net will differ from the Internet in the way that there will not be a central backbone and there will be no central financing.
Questions about what traffic to allow (research, commercial etc.) and misuse of the network remain open until an acceptable use statement has been formulated. The European net will show much similarities with the Internet. All participants agree finally some sort of a more formal organisation will be needed.
The question was raised whether the offered services should be well defined (and possibly restricted) because of lack of bandwidth on the existing and planned links. Solutions could be either to block some services or to monitor the traffic and let the heavy users pay for extra bandwidth. These problems however are not specific to the European IP net but already exist on many operational networks.
One concrete step is to increase bandwidth on low speed lines. The different organisations explain their (inter)national connections planned for the near future.
This has been a fruitful meeting and all participants agree to continue to work on better and closer co-operation. It was agreed to have a next meeting in autumn 1989, for which all organisations in Europe that are active in the field of IP WAN networking would again be invited.
All agree on the fact that there should be someone to monitor the progress of RIPE. Rob Blokzijl is appointed as volunteer.