IAB Job Description
The IAB Role
The IAB is chartered both as a committee of the IETF and as an advisory body of the Internet Society. The IAB acts as a source of advice and guidance concerning technical, architectural and procedural matters pertaining to the Internet and its enabling technologies; this includes both reviewing proposed new work and providing input to the IESG as well as providing perspective to the broader community on important issues. The IAB develops and documents architectural insight and guidance for the Internet. It provides architectural input into IETF technical activities as well as sponsoring and organizing work in the IRTF. The IAB also has several procedural roles to support the operation of the IETF including being the formal channel for liaisons with other organizations.
The IAB oversees various aspects of the architecture for the protocols and technical specifications as developed by the IETF, as well as overseeing activities in the IRTF. While the IAB does draw on specific expertise as required, it is expected that the sum of the expertise of IAB members encompasses a broad range of technologies under IETF and IRTF study, and also encompasses a broad range of perspectives on these specifications, from research and academic study through development, deployment and operational experience.
A major role of the IAB is to take a broad and long range perspective to offer input into the planning and coordination among different areas of Internet activities, including those of the IETF and IRTF. The IAB, both collectively and on an individual basis, is expected to pay attention to important long- term issues in the Internet, to make sure that these issues are brought to the attention of the groups that are in a position to address them, and to make sure that the right people within these groups are in contact with each other. To foster this community-building role, the IAB maintains open communications channels with other bodies engaged in Internet governance, including ICANN, the Regional Internet Registries, and ISOC, and provides technical and architectural input as appropriate. As needed, the IAB works with ISOC to provide advice and guidance to the Internet community on technical, architectural, procedural, and policy matters pertaining to the Internet and its enabling technologies. That advice and guidance are provided to the public, to the Board of Trustees and Officers of the Internet Society, and to the larger community as circumstances dictate.
The IAB has a number of roles within the organizational functioning of the IETF. While these roles require administrative rather than technical work, they form a large and important part of the IABs activities. All IAB members need to be prepared to participate (to varying degrees) in these activities.
The IAB serves as an appeal board for complaints of improper execution of the standards process, acting on appeals in respect of IESG standards decisions. In addition, the IAB appoints ISOC BoT members as well as a member of the IAOC, and hears appeals on matters related to the IAOC and IAD.
The IAB is responsible for the RFC Editor function, including appointing and overseeing the RFC Series Editor. The IAB provides direction for the administration of the IETF's protocol parameters registries (the IANA function). The IAB selects the chair of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) for a renewable two year term, and oversees the IRTF's activities.
The IAB has a role in the IETF Nominations Committee process: the IAB confirms the IETF Chair and the Area Directors (IESG).
The IAB is responsible for liaisons between the IETF and other organizations that undertake activities that overlap or intersect with the IETF's activities including other standards development organizations. The IAB appoints liaison managers to manage these relationships, and deals with liaison matters of an architectural or general procedural nature. The IAB becomes actively involved when these liaison relationships have difficulties, for example, in determining clear boundaries of responsibility. The IAB also appoints a member to the ICANN Nomcom and a liaison to the ICANN board to represent the IETF's interests within ICANN. IAB members fulfill the role of liaison "shepherds" to advise the liaison managers and to act as review point for assessing the efficacy of liaison activities and the liaison manager's duties.
In order to enhance institutional memory and enable the development of medium and long term activities, the IAB has organized its work in several areas in the form of programs. A program is a high priority, long term activity scoped and managed by the IAB, which can be thought of as an IAB directorate, small task force, or an ad-hoc body of (independent) technical experts (see RFC 2850 Section 2.1). Program outputs include IAB documents and statements. All IAB members are expected to review and comment on program outputs that represent the consensus of the IAB. In order to ensure that all IAB activities have IAB participation, members of the IAB are expected to actively participate in one or more programs.
The program leads, who will usually be IAB members, communicate the program plan to the community, solicit feedback, facilitate activities within the program, provide oversight and ensure continuity. The program lead will typically nominate non-IAB members to the program, subject to IAB approval, will develop the program plan, will organize regular program conference calls, and will develop consensus within the program for recommendations to be made to the IAB. The lead doesn’t need to have specific expertise in the area, but must have good general understanding of the issues from technical, business, and or policy perspective. The IAB as a whole periodically reviews the state of the programs and their progress, and makes necessary adjustments and prioritization. This includes a review of the program membership, activity plan and progress against deliverables. Current IAB programs include:
- IANA Program
- IP Stack Evolution Program
- Liaison Oversight Program
- Plenary Planning Program
- Privacy and Security Program
- RFC Editor Series Oversight Committee
The IAB schedules workshops on topics of interest from time to time, and IAB members are encouraged to attend these as well.
In addition, the IAB chooses a chair for a one year term at the March IETF meeting, after new members of the IAB are seated. There shall be at least two members of the IAB (among the nominated slate and the incumbents) who are willing and able to take the role of Chair.
IAB Member Qualities
IAB members are expected to act at the "Board" level.
The IAB is most effective when it is composed of a diverse set of individuals with a broad range of technical skills, architectural perspectives and backgrounds. For example, it is desirable for IAB members to have technical leadership experience, operational management backgrounds, research or academic backgrounds, implementation experience, and experience in other bodies involved in Internet governance. Likewise it is desirable for IAB members to have had experiences with differing technical challenges and requirements, including those that vary by geographic region. It is critical that IAB members be willing and able to work with each other to develop a shared viewpoint.
Some IAB activities are very specialized - for example, managing liaison relationships with other SDOs on behalf of the IETF. It is advantageous for the IAB when NomCom ensures that at least some IAB members have sufficient managerial skills to understand the issues that need to come to the IAB by managing and documenting inter-SDO liaison relationships on a strategic basis.
While it is advantageous for at least some IAB membership to have expertise in the IAB's current program topics, it is more important for the IAB to have membership who are experienced in managing volunteer teams, and who can build teams, motivate program work, and direct one or more programs even in the absence of in-depth knowledge about specific program topics. The IAB needs at least some members with program management skills that will facilitate interfacing between programs and the IAB.
The time commitment for an IAB member averages about six to sixteen hours a week in normal weeks (with significant week-to-week variability), and full-time during IETF meetings, retreats, and IAB workshops. This commitment could be higher, since it is expected that IAB members also actively participate in IETF activities. Simply tracking the various mailing list and documents can take up to a day a week. About a quarter to half of the time is spent on the organizational activities. Leading a program is an equivalent time commitment to chairing a working group, and active participation in a program an equivalent time commitment to authoring one or more documents in a working group. Each IAB member should be able to commit to leading a program during their IAB term.
Some positions within the IAB require more time. The typical time commitment for the IAB Chair is three days a week, and this position may require more travel. The IAB Chair is an ex officio member of the IESG and must devote time to IESG meetings.
IAB members may be tapped by ADs to do reviews of specialized documents and other tasks, potentially adding to those numbers. IAB members should plan to arrive at IETF meetings on the Saturday preceding the meeting. Time commitment during the meeting includes time on Sunday, early mornings during the week, Friday afternoons, as well as coverage of BoFs during the meeting for technical and architectural review.
The IAB typically holds an annual retreat from one to three days.