Internet Engineering Task Force

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF; German Internet Engineering Task Force ) is an organization that deals with the technical development of the Internet, to improve its functioning. Your job is to create high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way in which people develop the Internet, use and manage. These documents include the Internet protocol standards, descriptions currently known methods as well as various documents with rather informational character. In contrast to the more research-oriented Internet Research Task Force ( IRTF ), the IETF cares more about the short-term problems to be solved of the Internet, particularly the standardization of communication protocols used on the Internet. To the Internet protocol family, for example, include the Internet Protocol ( IP), the transport protocols UDP, TCP and SCTP ​​and the application protocol HTTP to transport Web content.

The IETF is an open international voluntary association of network engineers, manufacturers, network operators, researchers and users, which is responsible for proposals for the standardization of the Internet. It is available to any interested individual open and there is no formal membership or member requirement. The IETF has a loose organization no legal form.

Organization and functioning of

The IETF consists of a large number of working groups ( WGs ), each of which is concerned and intends to complete the work on this issue and then dissolve with a specific topic. Each working group has an appointed chairman ( or sometimes more co- chairman ) and a Charter, which formulates the objectives and specifies when and what documents are to be produced. The working groups operate and discuss by e -mail on open mailing lists and usually meet three times a year for personal discussion at the IETF meetings so-called. According to the formulated by Dave Clark motto "We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code. " It does not require exact voting for decision making, a" rough " consensus within the working group is sufficient.

The working groups are organized by topic into areas ( Areas); each section is of a Area Director ( AD) ( most areas have two co- ADs ) cared; ADs appoint the chairmen of the working groups. The Area Directors together with the Chairman, the IETF Internet Engineering Steering Group ( IESG ), which is responsible for the overall operation of the IETF. Before a document created in the IETF document is collected at the official protocol standard on the Internet, it must be reviewed and approved by the IESG in order to ensure the high quality of the official standards. The IESG shall also decide in cases of dispute, whether a rough consensus has been reached within a workgroup. New working groups are usually established only when the need was sufficient justification for this, which assesses the IESG. Usually takes place after an initial discussion of participants with an AD on a new topic, a first meeting of like-minded interested in a so-called Birds of a feather (BOF ) during an IETF meetings held. During a BOF problems are discussed, which can be solved by a new working group, if necessary, and developed initial proposals for a charter. Such a meeting may also take place more than once, is to clear if there are enough volunteers to form a new working group.

The IETF is formally under the auspices of the Internet Society ( ISOC) operates, mainly because the IETF is not itself a corporation and therefore has no legal form. The Internet Architecture Board (IAB ) is a committee that maintains the architecture- date overview of IETF activities and the ISOC advisory support. The IAB also monitors the standardization process, appoints the RFC Editor, and is responsible for managing the assignment of protocol parameters values ​​by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The IAB is jointly responsible for the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee ( IAOC ), which the IETF Administrative Support Activity ( IASA ) cared that (including finance) takes care of the administrative side of the IETF. Financially, we incur costs especially for the IETF meetings, the various servers and the administration itself. The organization of the meetings and the operation of the server accepts the IETF Secretariat. Revenue receives the IETF only from the participation fees for the IETF meetings, and by the ISOC. The IAB also manages the Internet Research Task Force ( IRTF ) with the IETF has some inter-group relations. The members of the IESG and the IAB are selected by a nomination committee ( NomComm ), which in turn is composed of a random selection of voluntary IETF assets ( participating in some regularity at the IETF meetings ).


Currently, the IETF is divided into eight thematic areas. Each working group within the IETF is assigned to exactly one of these areas.

  • Applications (Applications - APP)
  • General ( General - GEN)
  • Internet services ( Internet - INT )
  • Operation and network management ( Operations and Management - OPS)
  • Real-time applications and infrastructure (Real-Time and Infrastructure - RAI)
  • Routing ( RTG)
  • Security ( Security - SEC)
  • Transport services ( transport Services - TSV)


The IETF started in January 1986 in San Diego with a quarterly meeting of the U.S. government paid researchers. Beginning with the fourth IETF meeting in October 1986, representatives of non-governmental suppliers were invited. Since that time all IETF meetings were open to everyone. The bulk of the work of the IETF is done, however, on mailing lists and participation in the meetings is for the participants therefore not necessary because important decisions need to be discussed and passed upon the mailing list. However, the events of IETF meetings are reasonably well understood even for non- attendees: there is usually live broadcasts of audio channels so that discussions can be followed live. Furthermore, these recordings archived so that they can also listen to again later. In addition, the participation of over XMPP allows an interactive return channel, so that remote participants can ask questions about it. Most working groups also provide a Mitsch actuator and presented by the participants in the meeting films Proceedings available.

The initial meetings were very small, with less than 35 per present at the first five and a maximum of 120 attendees ( at the 12th meeting in January 1989) in the first 13 meetings. Since the early 1990s, the meetings in both participation and scope grew strong; the peak number of visitors was 2,810 in July 2000 IETF in San Diego. With the restructuring in the industry in the early 2000s, the number of visitors increased again and is currently at around 1,500.

During the early 1990s changed the institutional form of an activity of the U.S. government to an independent, international with the Internet Society connected. The influence of the IETF has been shown by the press occasionally exaggerated, since the latter assumed the former was responsible through their work on the core protocols of the success of the Internet. The truth is that the IETF is a group of engineers who develop the specifications so that products from different manufacturers can work together via networks, is much more sober.

In detail, the activities during the growth of the IETF have changed a lot, but the basic mechanism remains the publication of draft specifications, review and independent testing by the parties and re-release. Interoperability independently arisen implementations is the main test for clarity of IETF specifications that want to be standards. The most specifications tend to focus on individual protocols as to the interaction of components in system architectures. This has allowed that their protocols are used in many different systems and their standards are routinely re-used by institutions when it comes to the development of complete architectures (eg 3GPP, IMS).

However, since the IETF relies on volunteers and " rough consensus and running code " is used as a touchstone, it can also be slow if the number of volunteers is either too low to make an advance or so large that a consensus is difficult. For protocols such as SMTP, that is for the transportation of mail for a community that is one of the millions, responsible, there is also considerable resistance at any change that is not completely backward compatible. On ways to increase the working speed, working within the IETF - there but whether the large number of volunteers are many opinions about the consensus mechanisms slow these efforts themselves

An introduction to the IETF can be found in The Tao of IETF - A Novice 's Guide to the Internet Engineering Task Force.