The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is charged with developing and promoting Internet standards. It is an open, all-volunteer organization, with no formal membership nor membership requirements.
It is organized into a large number of working groups , each dealing with a specific topic; each working group has an appointed chair (or sometimes several co-chairs). The working groups are organized into areas by subject matter; each area is overseen by an area director (AD) (most areas have 2 co-AD's); the ADs appoint working group chairs. The area directors, together with the IETF Chair, form the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), which is responsible for the overall operation of the IETF.
The IETF is overseen by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), which is in turn responsible to the Internet Society (ISOC). The current chair of the IETF is Brian Carpenter .
During the early 1990s, IETF was the darling of the computer press, who heralded it as a faster, leaner, and more open standards body, in comparison to the slow, congested, and opaque bureaucracies of the International Organization for Standardization and ITU-T. Unfortunately, IETF's efficiency turned out to be a natural consequence of the fact that throughout the 1980s, it had been relatively small.
By 1993, it was clear to most observers that the Internet was going to be the next big communications medium; the competing Open Systems Interconnect project was going nowhere. Suddenly, everyone with some technical knowledge wanted to secure their place in the history of computing by joining IETF. Working groups ballooned in size and their progress ground to a halt.
The most notorious, well-publicized, and well-documented example of IETF's problems was when Tim Berners-Lee became director of the World Wide Web Consortium in order to personally lead the development of Web standards. As he would later explain in his book Weaving the Web, he became frustrated after sitting through too many IETF meetings where everyone wanted to express an opinion about the future of his creation and nothing was done.
In 2003 and 2004, IETF chair Harald Alvestrand instituted modest institutional reforms to reflect the fact that IETF was now a large, mature standards organization, and was no longer a small ad hoc group.
List of IETF chairs
- Brian Carpenter (2005-present)
Harald Tveit Alvestrand (2001-2005)
Fred Baker (1996-2001)
Paul Mockapetris (1994-1995)
- Phill Gross (1986-1993)
- Mike Corrigan (1986)
External links and references