From 22 to 27 March this year in San Francisco, the 74th IETF meeting will take place in San Francisco. The IETF is the Internet Engineering Task Force, a volunteer group responsible for the development and promotion of Internet standards, and while it represents just one of the cogs in the Internet's success and usability, it is fundamentally responsible for most of the interoperable network and communication protocols in use today.

For this particular meeting's schedule, there's a new BoF waiting for approval. To be jointly chaired by Linden Lab and IBM, the MMOX BoF (loosely translated as Massive Multiplayer Online X -- where X stands for 'stuff' or 'experience', take your pick) is to tackle the preliminaries of virtual environment standards and interoperability mechanisms.

We're not yet sure who from IBM might be attending, but Meadhbh Hamrick, Rob Lanphier and Mark Lentczner (all of Linden Lab) are expected to be in attendance.

Work items include LLSD, Common Object models, Security, event queues, X.509 and PKIX.

The MMOX Charter states:

The objective of the MMOX working group is to provide an application-layer wire protocol for Virtual Worlds to a) enable interoperability between applications, b) provide for access and exchange with other systems on the Internet such as web services, e-mail and other information storage systems, c) allow network layers to recognize VW traffic and make routing decisions based on its characteristics.

The core work of the group will be the production of the Open Grid Protocol suite (OGP), a set of application protocols to communicate and interact with the state of Virtual World applications. Foundational protocols in OGP include the publication of: 1) LLSD, an abstract type system for representing application layer objects along with serialization rules for protocol messages between these objects. 2) OGP Base, a messaging abstraction to support the unique needs of VW interactions. 3) Guidelines for using a PKIX compliant X.509 infrastructure to authenticate protocol endpoints. The OGP protocol suite makes use, where ever possible, of existing, established standards. For example, image data is typed and transferred using MIME and HTTP; serializations are encoded in XML and JSON.

The MMOX working group is not proposing the standardization of any one complete proprietary protocol, but the definition of a extensible core protocol and layers of agreed functionality as they are developed. Because the OGP suite is layered upon a core that is deployable before the entire range of VW functions is considered, we believe that the efforts of the MMOX working group are achievable within a reasonable time frame.

Informational RFCs are scheduled through 2009 and early 2010, with proposed standards by June 2010 -- which, all things considered, is excitingly swift.

The IETF area director for the BoF is Lisa Dusseault.


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This article was originally published on Massively.