What is the IETF?
The Internet Engineering Task Force, IETF for short, is dedicated to the further development and optimization of the Internet. The internationally active working group is divided into seven thematic areas.
The abbreviation IETF stands for “Internet Engineering Task Force” (working group for Internet technology). It is an organization based in Fremont, California, dedicated to the workings of the Internet. Put simply, the IETF would like to continuously develop and improve these.
Relevant documents are being developed for this purpose, including protocol standards and procedural descriptions, for example. For example, the well-known http protocol goes back to the IETF. The focus of the work is on short-term improvements. Long-term research around the Internet is carried out by the “Internet Research Task Force”.
The history of the IETF
Today the IETF is a loose organization that is open to anyone interested. It operates internationally. It was not always so. The working group was founded in 1986 in San Diego. They were all scientists who were paid for by the US government. They acted on their behalf and were supposed to accompany the commercial and private use of the network.
The number of members was accordingly limited, in some cases only 35 people worked for the task force. This situation has changed noticeably since the 1990s. The number of members quickly climbed into the four-digit range. Organizations such as the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Society (ISOC) did accompanying work. This support has also been formalized in a contract since 2005.
The general working method of the IETF has also existed since about this time. The organization is split thematically and forms committees. They set up their own working groups to work on their areas. In 2020 there were more than 100 – for seven committees. Work results do not have to meet many requirements. There is a “broad consensus that it has to be code that works,” as the IETF itself says.
The Internet Technology Task Force has formed the following seven committees:
General – GEN
Applications and real time – ART
Routing – RTG
Security – SEC
Transport services – TSV
Internet services – INT
Operation and network management – OPS
However, the work relies on volunteers. There is no permanent workforce. People around the world who have the time, desire and the necessary skills work with us. Some topics can therefore be dealt with quickly. Others demand a lot of time because of a lack of human resources. This fact is seen as a weak point of the concept, as important topics are therefore sometimes left lying around for a long time.