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Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF): Standards & Protocol

Instructor: Raymond Blockmon

Raymond has earned a bachelor's degree in computer information systems and a master's degree in organizational leadership.

The Internet Engineering Task Force is an online community designed to enhance the architectural evolution of the Internet. It develops the vast protocols that we use in order to standardize the Internet and its interchangeability capabilities.

The IETF: An Open, International Community

The Internet Engineering Task Force
IETF

The Internet Engineering Task Force, or IETF, is an open, international community comprised of participants who work to make the Internet work as smoothly as possible. They are directly responsible for all the different protocols that help make the Internet a reality. The IETF is much like a think tank, collaborating and communicating mainly through means of an email mailing list.

The Standards Process: Keeping Everything In Line

The IETF standards process can be found in RFC 2026. In the beginning, an RFC, or Request for Comments was a way for the IETF to ask for people's comments or ideas on a certain task. Since then, it has been used a standard naming convention for IETF documentation. The IETF uses RFC 2026 to form a set of rules and guidelines on how the members will operate together in order to publish protocols and procedures. Imagine overseeing a factory that is responsible for making cars. As a manager, you are enforcing standards such as technical excellence by ensuring all architectural designs have been created with fairness and objective basis on what the ideal car should be. You also strive to adopt the best automotive building practices that will ensure buyer confidence.

Think of the IETF as a car assembly line. Each team is responsible for adding a specific car part to create the larger end product. The IETF works the same way: Each members adds a task or protocol to improve the Internet. The IETF will then break up that task or protocol and assign tasks to different teams to accomplish it. Once each team accomplishes its assignment, the broken-up components can be put back together, much like a car on the assembly line. Once the IETF tests and confirms that the task or protocol is successful, it is generally made available for use by anyone on the Internet. The same concept applies when a car comes off the assembly line: If it is tested for safety and meets the standards, it can be placed on the market for purchase by the general public.

As you design and build your fleet of cars, you as the manager create and maintain documents for reference. These make it easier for other engineers, builders and workers to reference any issue that may occur when building the particular make and model. Being the manager, you also want to create an environment that reflects openness and fairness in regards to the testing of the quality of the build.

Finally, since the goal is have the best-selling cars, your goal as a manager is to be timely in regards to safety standards. This means if there is a recall, an addition that needs to be made, or an issue that needs to be addressed on the assembly line, you do not waste time in doing so. Due to the time expense that needs to be met, other departments from completing their own tasks.

For example, if you receive a request to add more airbags in the car for safety, you do not want to take a whole year to come up with a plan to do so. You need to quickly and deliberately make the change in a safe manner, because other sections on the assembly line are waiting to put on their special parts, such as brakes, tires and windshields. This is the same concept with the IETF: Changes to any task or protocol must be done in a timely manner, because other teams are waiting to implement their changes as well.

Protocols: IETF Contributions to Helping Build the Internet

The IETF is responsible for bringing hundreds of protocols that we use today to build and maintain the Internet. For example, the IETF developed several popular protocols that you may be familiar with, such as the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP). These protocols are essentially used to build and maintain network connectivity that is the foundation for the Internet.

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