<- RFC Index (1101..1200)
Obsoletes RFC 1120
Network Working Group V. Cerf
Request for Comments: 1160 NRI
Obsoletes: RFC 1120 May 1990
The Internet Activities Board
Status of this Memo
This RFC provides a history and description of the Internet
Activities Board (IAB) and its subsidiary organizations. This memo
is for informational use and does not constitute a standard. This is
a revision of RFC 1120. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
In 1968, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
initiated an effort to develop a technology which is now known as
packet switching. This technology had its roots in message switching
methods, but was strongly influenced by the development of low-cost
minicomputers and digital telecommunications techniques during the
mid-1960's [BARAN 64, ROBERTS 70, HEART 70, ROBERTS 78]. A very
useful survey of this technology can be found in [IEEE 78].
During the early 1970's, DARPA initiated a number of programs to
explore the use of packet switching methods in alternative media
including mobile radio, satellite and cable [IEEE 78]. Concurrently,
Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) began an exploration of packet
switching on coaxial cable which ultimately led to the development of
Ethernet local area networks [METCALFE 76].
The successful implementation of packet radio and packet satellite
technology raised the question of interconnecting ARPANET with other
types of packet nets. A possible solution to this problem was
proposed by Cerf and Kahn [CERF 74] in the form of an internetwork
protocol and a set of gateways to connect the different networks.
This solution was further developed as part of a research program in
internetting sponsored by DARPA and resulted in a collection of
computer communications protocols based on the original Transmission
Control Protocol (TCP) and its lower level counterpart, Internet
Protocol (IP). Together, these protocols, along with many others
developed during the course of the research, are referred to as the
TCP/IP Protocol Suite [RFC 1140, LEINER 85, POSTEL 85, CERF 82, CLARK
In the early stages of the Internet research program, only a few
researchers worked to develop and test versions of the internet
protocols. Over time, the size of this activity increased until, in
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1979, it was necessary to form an informal committee to guide the
technical evolution of the protocol suite. This group was called the
Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB) and was established by
Dr. Vinton Cerf who was then the DARPA program manager for the
effort. Dr. David C. Clark of the Laboratory for Computer Science at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the chairman of this
In January, 1983, the Defense Communications Agency, then responsible
for the operation of the ARPANET, declared the TCP/IP protocol suite
to be standard for the ARPANET and all systems on the network
converted from the earlier Network Control Program (NCP) to TCP/IP.
Late that year, the ICCB was reorganized by Dr. Barry Leiner, Cerf's
successor at DARPA, around a series of task forces considering
different technical aspects of internetting. The re-organized group
was named the Internet Activities Board.
As the Internet expanded, it drew support from U.S. Government
organizations including DARPA, the National Science Foundation (NSF),
the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA). Key managers in these organizations,
responsible for computer networking research and development, formed
an informal Federal Research Internet Coordinating Committee (FRICC)
to coordinate U.S. Government support for and development and use of
the Internet system. The FRICC sponsored most of the U.S. research
on internetting, including support for the Internet Activities Board
and its subsidiary organizations.
In 1990, the FRICC was reorganized as part of a larger initiative
sponsored by the networking subcommittee of the Federal Coordinating
Committee on Science, Engineering and Technology (FCCSET). The
reorganization created the Federal Networking Council (FNC) and its
Working Groups. The membership of the FNC included all the former
FRICC members and many other U.S. Government representatives. The
first chairman of the FNC is Dr. Charles Brownstein of the National
Science Foundation. The FNC is the Federal Government's body for
coordinating the agencies that support the Internet. It provides
liaison to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (headed by the
President's Science Advisor) which is responsible for setting science
and technology policy affecting the Internet. It endorses and
employs the existing planning and operational activities of the
community-based bodies that have grown up to manage the Internet in
the United States. The FNC plans to involve user and supplier
communities through creation of an external advisory board and will
coordinate Internet activities with other Federal initiatives ranging
from the Human Genome and Global Change programs to educational
applications. The FNC has also participated in planning for the
creation of a National Research and Education Network in the United
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At the international level, a Coordinating Committee for
Intercontinental Research Networks (CCIRN) has been formed which
includes the U.S. FNC and its counterparts in North America and
Europe. Co-chaired by the executive directors of the FNC and the
European Association of Research Networks (RARE), the CCIRN provides
a forum for cooperative planning among the principal North American
and European research networking bodies.
2. Internet Activities Board
The Internet Activities Board (IAB) is the coordinating committee for
Internet design, engineering and management. The Internet is a
collection of over two thousand of packet switched networks located
principally in the U.S., but also in many other parts of the world,
all interlinked and operating using the protocols of the TCP/IP
protocol suite. The IAB is an independent committee of researchers
and professionals with a technical interest in the health and
evolution of the Internet system. Membership changes with time to
adjust to the current realities of the research interests of the
participants, the needs of the Internet system and the concerns of
constituent members of the Internet.
IAB members are deeply committed to making the Internet function
effectively and evolve to meet a large scale, high speed future. New
members are appointed by the chairman of the IAB, with the advice and
consent of the remaining members. The chairman serves a term of two
years and is elected by the members of the IAB. The IAB focuses on
the TCP/IP protocol suite, and extensions to the Internet system to
support multiple protocol suites.
The IAB has two principal subsidiary task forces:
1) Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
2) Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)
Each of these Task Forces is led by a chairman and guided by a
Steering Group which reports to the IAB through its chairman. Each
task force is organized, by the chairman, as required, to carry out
its charter. For the most part, a collection of Working Groups
carries out the work program of each Task Force.
All decisions of the IAB are made public. The principal vehicle by
which IAB decisions are propagated to the parties interested in the
Internet and its TCP/IP protocol suite is the Request for Comment
(RFC) note series. The archival RFC series was initiated in 1969 by
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RFC 1160 The IAB May 1990
Dr. Stephen D. Crocker as a means of documenting the development of
the original ARPANET protocol suite [RFC 1000]. The editor-in-chief
of this series, Dr. Jonathan B. Postel, has maintained the quality of
and managed the archiving of this series since its inception. A
small proportion of the RFCs document Internet standards. Most of
them are intended to stimulate comment and discussion. The small
number which document standards are especially marked in a "status"
section to indicate the special status of the document. An RFC
summarizing the status of all standard RFCs is published regularly
RFCs describing experimental protocols, along with other submissions
whose intent is merely to inform, are typically submitted directly to
the RFC editor. A Standard Protocol starts out as a Proposed
Standard and may be promoted to Draft Standard and finally Standard
after suitable review, comment, implementation and testing.
Prior to publication of a Proposed Standard RFC, it is made available
for comment through an on-line Internet-Draft directory. Typically,
these Internet-Drafts are working documents of the IAB or of the
working groups of the Internet Engineering and Research Task Forces.
Internet-Drafts are either submitted to the RFC editor for
publication or discarded within 3-6 months. Prior to promotion to
Draft Standard or Standard, an Internet-Draft publication and review
cycle may be initiated if significant changes to the RFC are
The IAB performs the following functions:
1) Sets Internet Standards,
2) Manages the RFC publication process,
3) Reviews the operation of the IETF and IRTF,
4) Performs strategic planning for the Internet, identifying
long-range problems and opportunities,
5) Acts as an international technical policy liaison and
representative for the Internet community, and
6) Resolves technical issues which cannot be treated within
the IETF or IRTF frameworks.
To supplement its work via electronic mail, the IAB meets quarterly
to review the condition of the Internet, to review and approve
proposed changes or additions to the TCP/IP suite of protocols, to
set technical development priorities, to discuss policy matters which
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may need the attention of the Internet sponsors, and to agree on the
addition or retirement of IAB members and on the addition or
retirement of task forces reporting to the IAB. Typically, two of
the quarterly meetings are by means of video teleconferencing
(provided, when possible, through the experimental Internet packet
video-conferencing system). The minutes of the IAB meetings are
published in the Internet Monthly on-line report.
The IAB membership is currently as follows:
Vinton Cerf/CNRI Chairman
Robert Braden/USC-ISI Executive Director
David Clark/MIT-LCS IRTF Chairman
Phillip Gross/CNRI IETF Chairman
Jonathan Postel/USC-ISI RFC Editor
Hans-Werner Braun/Merit Member
Lyman Chapin/DG Member
Stephen Kent/BBN Member
Anthony Lauck/Digital Member
Barry Leiner/RIACS Member
Daniel Lynch/Interop, Inc. Member
3. The Internet Engineering Task Force
The Internet has grown to encompass a large number of widely
geographically dispersed networks in academic and research
communities. It now provides an infrastructure for a broad community
with various interests. Moreover, the family of Internet protocols
and system components has moved from experimental to commercial
development. To help coordinate the operation, management and
evolution of the Internet, the IAB established the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IETF is chaired by Mr. Phillip
Gross and managed by its Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).
The IAB has delegated to the IESG the general responsibility for
making the Internet work and for the resolution of all short- and
mid-range protocol and architectural issues required to make the
Internet function effectively.
The charter of the IETF includes:
1) Responsibility for specifying the short and mid-term
Internet protocols and architecture and recommending
standards for IAB approval.
2) Provision of a forum for the exchange of information within
the Internet community.
3) Identification of pressing and relevant short- to mid-range
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operational and technical problem areas and convening of
Working Groups to explore solutions.
The Internet Engineering Task Force is a large open community of
network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with
the Internet and the Internet protocol suite. It is organized around
a set of eight technical areas, each managed by a technical area
director. In addition to the IETF Chairman, the area directors make
up the IESG membership. Each area director has primary
responsibility for one area of Internet engineering activity, and
hence for a subset of the IETF Working Groups. The area directors
have jobs of critical importance and difficulty and are selected not
only for their technical expertise but also for their managerial
skills and judgment. At present, the eight technical areas and
1) Applications - Russ Hobby/UC-Davis
2) Host and User Services - Craig Partridge/BBN
3) Internet Services - Noel Chiappa/Consultant
4) Routing - Robert Hinden/BBN
5) Network Management - David Crocker/DEC
6) OSI Integration - Ross Callon/DEC and
7) Operations - Phill Gross/CNRI (Acting)
8) Security - Steve Crocker/TIS
The work of the IETF is performed by subcommittees known as Working
Groups. There are currently more than 40 of these. Working Groups
tend to have a narrow focus and a lifetime bounded by completion of a
specific task, although there are exceptions. The IETF is a major
source of proposed protocol standards, for final approval by the IAB.
The IETF meets quarterly and extensive minutes of the plenary
proceedings as well as reports from each of the working groups are
issued by the IAB Secretariat at the Corporation for National
4. The Internet Research Task Force
To promote research in networking and the development of new
technology, the IAB established the Internet Research Task Force
In the area of network protocols, the distinction between research
and engineering is not always clear, so there will sometimes be
overlap between activities of the IETF and the IRTF. There is, in
fact, considerable overlap in membership between the two groups.
This overlap is regarded as vital for cross-fertilization and
technology transfer. In general, the distinction between research
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and engineering is one of viewpoint and sometimes (but not always)
time-frame. The IRTF is generally more concerned with understanding
than with products or standard protocols, although specific
experimental protocols may have to be developed, implemented and
tested in order to gain understanding.
The IRTF is a community of network researchers, generally with an
Internet focus. The work of the IRTF is governed by its Internet
Research Steering Group (IRSG). The chairman of the IRTF and IRSG is
David Clark. The IRTF is organized into a number of Research Groups
(RGs) whose chairs of these are appointed by the chairman of the
IRSG. The RG chairs and others selected by the IRSG chairman serve on
the IRSG. These groups typically have 10 to 20 members, and each
covers a broad area of research, pursuing specific topics, determined
at least in part by the interests of the members and by
recommendations of the IAB.
The current members of the IRSG are as follows:
David Clark/MIT LCS - Chairman
Robert Braden/USC-ISI - End-to-End Services
Douglas Comer/PURDUE - Member-at-Large
Deborah Estrin/USC - Autonomous Networks
Stephen Kent/BBN - Privacy and Security
Keith Lantz/Consultant - Collaboration Technology
David Mills/UDEL - Member-at-Large
5. The Near-term Agenda of the IAB
There are seven principal foci of IAB attention for the period 1989 -
1) Operational Stability
2) User Services
3) OSI Coexistence
4) Testbed Facilities
6) Getting Big
7) Getting Fast
Operational stability of the Internet is a critical concern for all
of its users. Better tools are needed for gathering operational
data, to assist in fault isolation at all levels and to analyze the
performance of the system. Opportunities abound for increased
cooperation among the operators of the various Internet components
[RFC 1109]. Specific, known problems should be dealt with, such as
implementation deficiencies in some versions of the BIND domain name
service resolver software. To the extent that the existing Exterior
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Gateway Protocol (EGP) is only able to support limited topologies,
constraints on topological linkages and allowed transit paths should
be enforced until a more general Inter-Autonomous System routing
protocol can be specified. Flexiblity for Internet implementation
would be enhanced by the adoption of a common internal gateway
routing protocol by all vendors of internet routers. A major effort
is recommended to achieve conformance to the Host Requirements RFCs
which were published in the fourth quarter of calendar 1989.
Among the most needed user services, the White Pages (electronic
mailbox directory service) seems the most pressing. Efforts should
be focused on widespread deployment of these capabilities in the
Internet by mid-1990. The IAB recommends that existing white pages
facilities and newer ones, such as X.500, be populated with up-to-
date user information and made accessible to Internet users and users
of other systems (e.g., commercial email carriers) linked to the
Internet. Connectivity with commercial electronic mail carriers
should be vigorously pursued, as well as links to other network
research communities in Europe and the rest of the world.
Development and deployment of privacy-enhanced electronic mail
software should be accelerated in 1990 after release of public domain
software implementing the private electronic mail standards [RFC
1113, RFC 1114 and RFC 1115]. Finally, support for new or enhanced
applications such as computer-based conferencing, multi-media
messaging and collaboration support systems should be developed.
The National Network Testbed (NNT) resources planned by the FRICC
should be applied to support conferencing and collaboration protocol
development and application experiments and to support multi-vendor
router interoperability testing (e.g., interior and exterior routing,
network management, multi-protocol routing and forwarding).
With respect to growth in the Internet, architectural attention
should be focused on scaling the system to hundreds of millions of
users and hundreds of thousands of networks. The naming, addressing,
routing and navigation problems occasioned by such growth should be
analyzed. Similarly, research should be carried out on analyzing the
limits to the existing Internet architecture, including the ability
of the present protocol suite to cope with speeds in the gigabit
range and latencies varying from microseconds to seconds in duration.
The Internet should be positioned to support the use of OSI protocols
by the end of 1990 or sooner, if possible. Provision for multi-
protocol routing and forwarding among diverse vendor routes is one
important goal. Introduction of X.400 electronic mail services and
interoperation with RFC 822/SMTP [RFC 822, RFC 821, RFC 987, RFC
1026, and RFC 1148] should be targeted for 1990 as well. These
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efforts will need to work in conjunction with the White Pages
services mentioned above. The IETF, in particular, should establish
liaison with various OSI working groups (e.g., at NIST, RARE, Network
Management Forum) to coordinate planning for OSI introduction into
the Internet and to facilitate registration of information pertinent
to the Internet with the various authorities responsible for OSI
standards in the United States.
Finally, with respect to security, a concerted effort should be made
to develop guidance and documentation for Internet host managers
concerning configuration management, known security problems (and
their solutions) and software and technologies available to provide
enhanced security and privacy to the users of the Internet.
[BARAN 64] Baran, P., et al, "On Distributed Communications",
Volumes I-XI, RAND Corporation Research Documents, August 1964.
[CERF 74] Cerf V., and R. Kahn, "A Protocol for Packet Network
Interconnection", IEEE Trans. on Communications, Vol. COM-22,
No. 5, pp. 637-648, May 1974.
[CERF 82] Cerf V., and E. Cain, "The DoD Internet Protocol
Architecture", Proceedings of the SHAPE Technology Center
Symposium on Interoperability of Automated Data Systems,
November 1982. Also in Computer Networks and ISDN,
Vol. 17, No. 5, October 1983.
[CLARK 86] Clark, D., "The Design Philosophy of the DARPA
Internet protocols", Proceedings of the SIGCOMM '88 Symposium,
Computer Communications Review, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 106-114,
[HEART 70] Heart, F., Kahn, R., Ornstein, S., Crowther, W.,
and D. Walden, "The Interface Message Processor for the ARPA
Computer Network", AFIPS Conf. Proc. 36, pp. 551-567,
[IEEE 78] Kahn, R. (Guest Editor), Uncapher, K. and
H. Van Trees (Associate Guest Editors), Proceedings of the
IEEE, Special Issue on Packet Communication Networks,
Volume 66, No. 11, pp. 1303-1576, November 1978.
[IEEE 87] Leiner, B. (Guest Editor), Nielson, D., and
F. Tobagi (Associate Guest Editors), Proceedings of the
IEEE, Special Issue on Packet Radio Networks, Volume 75,
No. 1, pp. 1-272, January 1987.
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RFC 1160 The IAB May 1990
[LEINER 85] Leiner, B., Cole, R., Postel, J., and D. Mills,
"The DARPA Protocol Suite", IEEE INFOCOM 85, Washington, D.C.,
March 1985. Also in IEEE Communications Magazine, March 1985.
[METCALFE 76] Metcalfe, R., and D. Boggs, "Ethernet:
Distributed Packet for Local Computer Networks", Communications
of the ACM, Vol. 19, No. 7, pp. 395-404, July 1976.
[POSTEL 85] Postel, J., "Internetwork Applications Using the
DARPA Protocol Suite", IEEE INFOCOM 85, Washington, D.C.,
[RFC 821] Postel, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", RFC 821,
USC/Information Sciences Institute, August 1982.
[RFC 822] Crocker, D., "Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet
Text Messages", RFC 822, University of Delaware, August 1982.
[RFC 987] Kille, S., "Mapping between X.400 and RFC 822",
University College London, June 1986.
[RFC 1000] Reynolds, J., and J. Postel, "The Request for
Comments Reference Guide", RFC 1000, USC/Information Sciences
Institute, August 1987.
[RFC 1026] Kille, S., "Addendum to RFC 987: (Mapping between
X.400 and RFC 822)", RFC 1026, University College London,
[RFC 1109] Cerf, V., "Report of the Second Ad Hoc Network
Management Review Group", RFC 1109, NRI, August 1989.
[RFC 1113] Linn, J., "Privacy Enhancement for Internet
Electronic Mail: Part I -- Message Encipherment and
Authentication Procedures", RFC 1113, IAB Privacy Task
Force, August 1989.
[RFC 1114] Kent, S., and J. Linn, "Privacy Enhancement for
Internet Electronic Mail: Part II -- Certificate-based Key
Management", RFC 1114, IAB Privacy Task Force, August 1989.
[RFC 1115] Linn, J., "Privacy Enhancement for Internet
Electronic Mail: Part III -- Algorithms, Modes and Identifiers",
RFC 1115, IAB Privacy Task Force, August 1989.
[RFC 1140] Postel, J., Editor, "IAB Official Protocol
Standards", RFC 1140, Internet Activities Board, May 1990.
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RFC 1160 The IAB May 1990
[RFC 1148] Kille, S., "Mapping between X.400(1988) / ISO 10021
and RFC 822", RFC 1048, UCL, March 1990.
[ROBERTS 70] Roberts, L., and B. Wessler, "Computer Network
Development to Achieve Resource Sharing", pp. 543-549,
Proc. SJCC 1970.
[ROBERTS 78] Roberts, L., "Evolution of Packet Switching",
Proc. IEEE, Vol. 66, No. 11, pp. 1307-1313, November 1978.
Note: RFCs are available from the Network Information Center at SRI
International, 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025, (1-800-
235-3155), or on-line via anonymous file transfer from NIC.DDN.MIL.
Vinton G. Cerf
Corporation for National Research Initiatives
1895 Preston White Drive, Suite 100
Reston, VA 22091
Phone: (703) 620-8990
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