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Working Group Members Reject Intel Leadership

by Richard Koman
02/09/2001

The Peer-to-Peer Working Group, initiated and organized by Intel, took a step towards independence yesterday by denying Intel's Bob Knighten the chairmanship of the group steering committee. Instead, Brian Morrow, president and chief operating officer of Endeavors, was handed the prize. Knighten was elected chair of the technical architecture committee.

In conversations during the day, members repeatedly expressed concern that the group is perceived as "an Intel group" and underscored the need for legitimacy. "We need to hijack this thing," said one member. Before his election, Morrow said, "I know for a fact that Microsoft and Sun are talking to the group behind the scenes but don't want to be involved as long as it's seen as Intel's thing." Even IBM and Hewlett Packard, "founding members" of the group, did not attend the meeting, and IBM's name didn't appear on the list of members. (Neither did Intel's -- an apparent typo.)

Meanwhile Intel sent mixed messages, saying they too desired that the group be an independent standards body, but stating a desire to steer the group "for a while ... perhaps three years," in the words of Kea Grilley, director of technology and initiative marketing.

At that Tim O'Reilly, president of O'Reilly & Associates, cautioned: "The proposal that Intel would have special status for three years would be a bad decision." (Disclaimer: This site is owned and operated by O'Reilly & Associates.)

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Grilley responded: "It's up for election, but we will nominate ourselves."

That they did, but the membership was having none of it, as the election results showed.

It was O'Reilly who first spoke up at the initial meeting of the Working Group, calling Intel's first organization proposal "horrific." At the October 2000 meeting of the Working Group, O'Reilly said, "The IETF has a good working model [for projects like this], and you propose an organization where the big players have all the power." Other attendees, including representatives from Sun and Cisco agreed.

The initial proposal structured the group into three levels. A seven-member steering committee, defined not by technical excellence or vision, but by the $25,000 admission fee, would have been the final arbiter of standards. For $5000, companies earn the right to chair a technical committee and vote on technical issues. For $500, companies or individuals could participate in a committee by invitation, attend group events, and review (but not vote on) draft standards.

Yesterday's proposal, which was accepted by the group, offered an organization much closer to classic standards committees, with a steering committee, technical architecture council, and technical working groups. The cost of membership is now a flat $5,000 fee. Following a public meeting where the new organization was presented and amended, members moved behind closed doors where they elected members and chairs of the steering committee and technical architecture council.

In other news, Intel released their Peer to Peer Trusted Library on sourceforge at sourceforge.net/projects/ptptl

The newly elected committees are expected to meet at the O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer Conference next week in San Francisco.


Richard Koman is a freelancer writer and editor based in Sonoma County, California. He works on SiliconValleyWatcher, ZDNet blogs, and is a regular contributor to the O'Reilly Network.


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