Decentralized Internet Infrastructure Research Group: Draft Charter

(latest change: 2017-09-20, 20:20 CET)

(Discussion takes place on DIN mailing list)

The Decentralized Internet Infrastructure Research Group (DINRG) will investigate open research issues in decentralizing infrastructure services such as trust management, identity management, name resolution, resource/asset ownership management, and resource discovery. The focus of DINRG is on infrastructure services that can benefit from decentralization or that are difficult to realize in local, potentially connectivity-constrained networks. The objective of DINRG is to 1) investigate (understand, document, survey) use cases and their specific requirements with respect to implementing them in a distributed manner; 2) to discuss and assess solutions for specific use cases with a focus on Internet level deployment issues such as scalability, performance, and security; 3) to develop and document technical solutions and best practices; 4) to develop tools and metrics to identify scaling issues and to determine whether components are missing; and 5) to identify future work items for the IETF. Other topics of interest are the investigation of economic drivers and incentives and the development and operation of experimental platforms. DINRG will operate in a technology- and solution-neutral manner, i.e., while the RG has an interest in distributed ledger technologies, it is not limited to specific technologies and or implementation aspect. We expect DINRG to advance the state of the art with respect to fostering a better understanding of the merits and constraints of specific technologies with respect to the DINRG use cases.


The Internet was designed as a distributed, decentralized system. For example, intra- and inter-domain routing, DNS, and so on were designed to operate in a distributed manner. However, over time the dominant deployment model for applications and some infrastructure services evolved to become more centralized and hierarchical. Some of the increase in centralization is due to business models that rely on centralized accounting and administration.

However, we are simultaneously seeing the evolution of use cases (e.g., certain IoT deployments) that cannot work (or which work poorly) in centralized deployment scenarios along with the evolution of decentralized technologies which leverage new cryptographic infrastructures, such as DNSSEC, or which use novel, cryptographically-based distributed consensus mechanisms, such as a number of different ledger technologies. For example, these use cases include identity/trust management leveraging reputation for authentication, authorization and decentralized management of shared resources.

The evolution of distributed ledger technologies and the platforms that leverage them has given rise to the development of decentralized communication and infrastructure systems, and experiments with the same. Some examples include name resolution (Namecoin, Ethereum Name Service), identity management (OneName), distributed storage (IPFS, MaidSafe), distributed applications, or DApps (Blockstack), and IP address allocation and delegation.

These systems differ with respect to the problem they are solving, the specific technologies that they apply, the consensus algorithms that are employed, and the incentives that are built into the system. Now is a good time to investigate these systems from an Internet technologies perspective, and to connect the domain expertise in the IRTF and IETF with the distributed systems and decentralized ledgers community.

Research Challenges

While there is currently intensive research and development taking place around decentralized applications, the problem of decentralized infrastructure is receiving relatively less attention, despite the research challenges in this space. Some of these challenges include:

  • Identification of specific use case requirements
  • Scalability - what are the problems that prevent decentralized infrastructure services from achieving global scale?
  • Trust management in decentralized communication settings
  • Privacy and targeted, verifiable disclosure
  • Applicability of distributed ledger and related technologies to different use cases and environments (including constrained nodes and networks)
  • Consensus algorithms for specific scenarios with a focus on Internet infrastructure services
  • The ability of constrained nodes to benefit from elements of a consensus item that they cannot process or store as a complete set
  • Distributed Trust and Delegated Computing
  • Economic drivers and roadblocks for decentralizing network infrastructure
  • Identification of common requirements and properties of selected technologies
  • Design and implementation of one or more general-purpose infrastructure systems
  • Deployment and operation of one or more actual implementations

Relevant Related Activities and Communities


DINRG provides an open forum for the exchange and analysis of Decentralized Infrastructure-related research. Work that is based on implementation experience is given preference. DINRG uses an open mailing list as the main collaboration tool, and will hold regular several physical meetings per year. DINRG will meet at least once per year at IETF meetings but will also reach out to other communities and hold meetings at their respective events such as conferences, project or standards meetings etc. DINRG will produce Informational and Experimental RFCs in order to document and specify relevant RG results in a structured way. DINRG will coordinate and leverage synergies with other IRTF groups such as T2TRG, ICNRG, and Crypto Forum RG. Also, DINRG intends to establish a productive working relationship with experts from IETF working groups in different areas, specifically in the Security, Internet, and Operations area.

OLD: Blockchain, Distributed Data & Service Federation

Evolving network systems require resource and asset sharing beyond connectivity and transit services as in today's networks. For example, in IoT scenarios such as Smart City, data is characterized as the "new oil" for future service and business development. In order to utilize data in new contexts, it needs to be freed from application- or service-provider-specific silos. From a user control and privacy perspective, this cannot be done with some assurance on data usage policies and privacy guarantees. Also, for exchanging data between different business peers, for example between aggregation and application-specific processing and presentation, data ownership, usage rights and authenticity needs to be assured.

Similarly, future mobile network architectures are being design with the idea of layering different service layers, each provided by a unique provider in order to provide adequate facilities for different users and vertical applications of the network. For example, a base connectivity layer would be employed by an MVNO that offers a richer service, or an ICN cache-and-forward infrastructure would be employed by a Mobile-TV service requiring scalable distribution of live and video-on-demand content.

This proposal aims to investigate a decentralized federation infrastructure to support such re-use of data and services at Internet scale. Instead of centralized control of independent network and application silos, we envision a general, Internet-wide infrastructure for creating, managing and storing information about data and service federations. Such federations would be set up dynamically, i.e., on-demand, and secured in a way that allows easy verification.


We think that now is a right time to start thinking about data sharing and service layering in a distributed fashion. Base technologies such as IoT networking and ICN are reaching sufficient maturity levels for deployments. Linked Data initiatives are continuing to emerge, and research efforts such as 5GPPP are taking the next steps towards ad-hoc service create in layered frameworks. Also, policy makers are calling for decentralized architectures, e.g. in EU H2020: "Current centralized platforms for big and social data management consolidate the dominance of existing incumbent actors, stifling innovation and allowing less and less control over the data by citizens. Distributed architectures and decentralized platforms have a huge potential to enable the creation of viable alternatives to current dominant models"(

Challenges, Potential Research Topics

Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of challenges and potential research topics:

  • data publishing/distribution in an internet-wide federation, with protection of privacy, version control;
  • subscribing/searching to find the existing of the data, corresponding to publishing/distribution mechanisms;
  • data retrieval with security: the concept of "owner" of data, access control on data objects, based on federated ID management/Authorization/Authorization, privilege management;
  • mechanisms enabling and encouraging data exchange/trade, e.g data anonymizing, data portability, etc. Blockchain may also be relevant here to provide a distributed database for smart contract between non-trusting parties.
  • the ability to accommodate dynamic and evolving behavior, such as mobile code;
  • semantic interoperability at different layers, e.g., as highlighted by
  • information model reflecting the above considerations: data/metadata, owner of the data, etc.

At this point, we'd like to kick-off an inclusive discussion of interested members in the IRTF/IETF community. Specifically, these questions/challenges may have connections to IETF ABFAB WG, IRTF ICNRG, IRTF T2T RG among others.

Next Steps: Side meeting ("bar BOF") at IETF-99 in Prague



  1. Melinda & Dirk: Background and Purpose
  2. Selected Use Cases and Related Efforts
  3. Discussion of Next steps

Past Activities

Side meeting at IETF-96


  • Diego Lopez: Service Federation in 5G
  • Carsten Bormann: Service Federation in IoT
  • Thomas Scheffler: A Privacy Aware Localization Service for Healthcare Environments
  • Jeffrey He: Architecture Consideration for Data Sharing, and Open Questions
  • Discussion of Next Steps


Side meeting at IETF-95

We had a side meeting on April 4th, 2016 to discuss about Blockchain, Distributed Internet Frameworks and Service Federation.


Mailing List for follow-up discussions

Last modified 12 days ago Last modified on Oct 12, 2017, 6:12:53 AM

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