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IETF -- Internet Engineering Task Force

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is an open global community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers producing technical specifications for the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet.

- RFC 3233; Defining the IETF; P. Hoffman, S. Bradner; Feb 2002.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) was created in 1986 by the Internet Architecture Board. It consists of Internet administrators, designers, vendors, researchers, and individuals interested in the evolution of the Internet architecture, and is responsible for improvement of the Internet technology protocols and standards.

The culture of the IETF has always been open and informal, an influence taken from its predecessor, the Network Working Group. For example, their voting members are selected according to a random process to guarentee unbaised selections, as described in Publicly Verifiable Nominations Committee (NomCom) Random Selection, RFC 3797.

The first IETF meeting was held in January, 1986 in San Diego, and had 15 attendees. The seventh meeting was hosted by the MITRE corporation in McLean, Virginia, in July, 1987, and had more than 100 attendees. The fourteenth meeting was hosted by Stanford University in July, 1989, and led the Internet Architecture Board to consolidate many task forces into the IETF and the IRTF. The first IETF meeting held in Europe was in Amsterdam in July, 1993.

The IETF studies operational and technical problems with the Internet, specifies protocols and architectural solutions, and makes recommendations to its steering committee, the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Most of the work done by the IETF is performed by several working groups, each interested in a particular Internet topic and led by a working group chair. Working groups often document their work in one or more Request For Comments, which sometimes go on to become standards that help define how the Internet works.

The IETF also facilitates technology transfer from the Internet Research Task Force, and provides a forum for the exchange of information between Internet vendors, users, researchers, contractors, and managers.

With the continued increase in the scale and technical complexity of the Internet, the IETF went through some growing pains adjusting to the similar increase in their own responsibilities and challenges. In conformance with their open culture, their members conducted a searching self-examination in 2002 and 2003 as documented in The IETF in the Large: Administration and Execution, RFC 3716, and IETF Problem Statement, RFC 3774. Recommendations of a working group to address the issues were described in IETF Problem Resolution Process, RFC 3844.

Resources. The following Request For Comments documents provide more information about the IETF:

  • RFC 1718; The IETF Secretariat, G. Malkin; The Tao of IETF -- A Guide for New Attendees of the Internet Engineering Task Force; Nov. 1994; also published as the Tao of the IETF
  • RFC 2028; R. Hovey, S. Bradner; The Organizations Involved in the IETF Standards Process; Oct. 1996
  • RFC 2418; S. Bradner; IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures; September 1998
  • RFC 3160; S. Harris; The Tao of IETF - A Novice's Guide to the Internet Engineering Task Force; August 2001
  • RFC 3233; P. Hoffman, S. Bradner; Defining the IETF; February 2002
  • RFC 3716; IETF; The IETF in the Large: Administration and Execution; March 2004
  • RFC 3933; J. Klensin; S. Dawkins; A Model for IETF Process Experiments; November 2004
  • RFC 3935; H. Alvestrand; A Mission Statement for the IETF; October 2004.

The following resources also provide information about the IETF:


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