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Gen-art Telechat review: draft-mm-netconf-time-capability-08

2015-09-14 15:31:25
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Document: draft-mm-netconf-time-capability-08
Reviewer: Robert Sparks
Review Date: 14 Sep 2015
IETF LC End Date: past
IESG Telechat date: 17 Sep 2015

Summary: Ready for publication as an Experimental RFC

The changes since -05 address my concerns with allowing cancels to be scheduled, and dealing with cancels not being processed in time.

The added discussion on how to choose a max-sched-future value is good. I still would have preferred a hard limit for this experimental period.

The addition of cancelling all pending commands when the submitters connection closes is a good one.

The document doesn't reflect the email discussion we had around how certain 3rd parties can cancel commands. I encourage adding at least a sentence reminding implementers and experimenting operators to remember that they can.


On 7/8/15 4:39 PM, Robert Sparks wrote:
I am the assigned Gen-ART reviewer for this draft. For background on
Gen-ART, please see the FAQ at


Please resolve these comments along with any other Last Call comments
you may receive.

Document: draft-mm-netconf-time-capability-05
Reviewer: Robert Sparks
Review Date: 8 Jul 2015
IETF LC End Date: 29 Jul 2015
IESG Telechat date: not yet scheduled

Summary: This draft has open issues to address before publication

This draft adds two separable concepts to netconf
* Asking for and receiving knowledge of when a command was executed
* Requesting that a command be executed at a particular time

The utility of the first is obvious, and I have no problems with the specification of that part of this extension. Would it be better to pull these apart and progress them separately?

The utility of the second would be more obvious if the draft didn't limit the time to be "near future scheduling". It punts on most of the hard problems with scheduling things outside a very tight range (15 seconds in the future by default), without motivating the advantages of saying "wait until 5 seconds from now before you do this".


Why was 15 seconds chosen? Could you add a motivating example that shows why being able to say "now is not good, but 5 seconds from now is better" is useful? (Something like having a series of things happen as close to simultaneously without the network delay of sending the requests impacting how they are separated perhaps?)

Given the punt, why isn't there a statement that sched-max-future MUST NOT be configured for more than some small value (twice the default, or 30 seconds, perhaps), especially while this is targeted for Experimental? Without something like that, I think the document needs to talk about more of the issues it is trying to avoid with longer term scheduling, even if it doesn't solve those issues. (If I have a fast pipe, I can make a server keep a lot of queued requests, eating a lot of state, even if the window is only 15 seconds. Pointing to how netconf protects against state-exhaustion abuse might be useful).

The security considerations section talks about malicious parties attempting to cause sched-max-future to be configured to "a small value". Could you more clearly characterize "small", given that the default is 15 seconds?

Even with the near-future limit, there are issues to discuss introduced with the ability to cancel a request:

* What prevents a 3rd party from cancelling a request? I think it's only that the 3rd party would have to obtain the right id to put in the cancel message. If so, the document should talk about how you keep eavesdroppers from seeing those ids, and that the servers that generate them should make ids that are hard to guess.

* Especially given the near-future limitation, you run a high risk that the cancel arrives after the identified request has been executed. It's not clear in the current text what the server should do. I assume you want the server to reply to the cancel with a "I couldn't cancel that" rather than to do something like try to undo the request. The document should be explicit.

* The document should explicitly disallow adding <scheduled-time> to <cancel-schedule>

One editorial comment: It would help to move the concept of the near-future limitation much earlier in the document, perhaps even into the introduction and abstract.

And for the shepherding AD: The document has no shepherd or shepherd writeup. While a writeup is not required, one would have been useful in this case to discuss the history of (lack of) discussion of the document on the group's list and the group's reaction to progressing as Experimental as an Individual Submission.

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