By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2003-01-27 Print this article Print


The IETF and its famous requests for Comment, or RFCs (not the least of which define the TCP/IP stack), is a stew of people, open to anyone with time to join an e-mail listserv.

This isnt to say that everyone gets to decide which Internet drafts (works in progress) become RFCs. The power behind the throne is the Internet Engineering Steering Group, a very small group of directors from each area of work.

The IETF has a well-established process that uses working groups and charters inside each of its seven work areas to define standards.

While IETF discussions necessarily focus on future standards, IT managers will get all sorts of useful food for thought about timely issues. For example, a recent exchange in the Benchmarking Methodology working group included very useful discussion about benchmarking wireless networks. The consensus as the discussion neared conclusion was that a new standard for wireless was not needed.

The IETFs wide-ranging discussions and open review usually mean that standards move at a deliberate pace through the process. Most working group charters are viewed as successful when the group ends up with a successful RFC.

The sometimes-plodding nature of the IETFs work process, combined with the desire to use unencumbered technology, may explain the recent proliferation of vendor consortia. However, the fundamental nature of the IETFs work along with its accessible process makes it an ideal place for IT to influence the standards process.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

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