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Some recent activities on Ethernet have raised concerns again about the IEEE-SA competing against itself by spawning competing standards activities through different organizations. Many of you will remember when an ISTO affiliated consortium was formed that IEEE 802.16 perceived as direct but non-interoperable competition to IEEE 802.16. This time, an Ethernet related activity has been discussed as an IEEE-SA Corporate Advisory Group (CAG) sponsored standards development project. Please note that at this time, nothing formal has happened, but initial discussions raise some more general questions in the prevue of the Executive Committee.
As background, I provide my understanding of the relevant parts of CAG operation from "Operating Procedures for The Corporate Advisory Group as a Standards Development Sponsor", “Maximizing Your IEEE-SA Corporate Membership” and discussions with CAG leadership and IEEE staff.
Recent activities in and outside 802.3 will highlight why I feel current CAG policies are an important issue for the LMSC Executive Committee to consider. In general, my concern is that the current procedures of the CAG can be used to undermine the decision making authority of established working groups, and destroy industry respect for and support of IEEE-SA as a standards development organization.
Because the EC’s responsibility is mostly to process, I present the following as background information so that you can easily envision similar situations within your working groups. Hopefully we can deal with this particular proposal as a case study, and independent of the technical merits and liabilities of the proposed work, focus on the more general strategic implications.
Should IEEE 802.3 form a Study Group to develop a project proposal for 2.5 Gbps Ethernet?
Attendees: Y: 53, N: 64, A: 39
802.3 Voters: Y: 20, N: 29, A: 21
5. Also in November, the proponents brought essentially the same question before the 802.3 closing plenary.
Motion: 802.3 WG authorizes the formation of 2.5Gbps Study Group
Y: 17, N: 31, A: 17 Motion Failed
6. In January 2004, Mr. Nikolich received a request for cooperation on a 2.5 Gb/s project from the Chair of the IEEE-SA CAG, initiating discussions among CAG leadership, IEEE 802/802.3 leaders and IEEE Staff. Mr. Nikolich gave his personal opinion to the Chair of the CAG that executing this project through sponsorship by the CAG "was not advisable due to conflict with the 802.3 position", but he also requested more information about the CAG and corporate IEEE-SA participation before offering any formal response to the request and requested that 802 and 802.3 leadership be involved in any discussion by the CAG on this potential project. To date, that request has been honored.
IEEE 802 – 1st Vice Chair, 802.3 Chair, 802.3 Vice Chair, 10GBASE-T Chair
CAG – Chair and Vice Chair
President of the IEEE-SA
In addition to the above information about CAG operation, the conference call indicated:
a) The CAG leadership was committed to support this proposed project.
b) A PAR if proposed would only require approval by the CAG to forward to NesCom.
e) IEEE 802 participants felt the absence of communication with the corporate membership about the advisability of sponsoring a project lessens the value proposition for becoming a corporate member. “Why should I recommend my company join IEEE-SA when it would not be guaranteed any mechanism for disapproving proposed new work?”
f) It was expected that a 2.5 Gb/s project would be submitted to NesCom for March consideration. [Though it is believed that this will not happen.]
g) The CAG leadership would allow the 45-day period for other societies to respond to overlap with the NesCom submittal.
The similarities of this to IEEE 802.16’s problems with ISTO are obvious to those that were involved. With ISTO, we argued about whether it was appropriate to call their output IEEE standards or specifications. The major difference here is that standard versus specification isn’t a question with a CAG sponsored project. A CAG sponsored project will be an “IEEE Std xxx” document.
The ability of the CAG to sponsor projects is a worthwhile activity for IEEE-SA to support. Without proper constraint though, it can be used to undermine the decisions of 802 and other established working groups. As an example, most of our groups have lively discussions about encoding/modulation techniques. What if one of our WGs makes a decision and the proponents of a losing proposal recognize they only need two entity “friends” to go get their own standard through the CAG. Consider what this particular case would mean as a precedent to IEEE Std 802.11, IEEE Std 802.15, IEEE Std 802.16, etc. What if the losing side on a bridging or security proposal didn’t like the 802.1 decision.
I would like the EC to consider a position statement to the BoG on additional considerations for CAG sponsored standards projects. I believe that a motion should state that:
The IEEE LAN/MAN Standards Committee (LMSC) is supportive of Corporate Advisory Group (CAG) standards activities where existing sponsors are disinterested in a proposed activity. The LMSC is strongly opposed to the CAG sponsoring projects where there is strong interest in the proposed activity. The LMSC disagrees with any presumption that rejecting a proposed standards activity is equivalent to disinterest in the activity. CAG and IEEE-SA process must consider an established working group’s position that a particular standards project is within its area of work and it that it should not be approved. The LMSC requests that CAG P&P be modified to support this method of operation.
To have a position ready for the BOG meeting on February 25-27, I will be making a motion similar to that above this week. In the meantime, any wordsmithing suggestions will be appreciated.
Thank you for your attention to this lengthy but important message.
SEC 2-5 letter.ZIP