The Importance of Standards, IETF, and Interop to Collaboration at Cisco
For those of you who know me, you know that I’ve dedicated much of my career to the development of Internet standards. The Session Initiation Protocol – RFC 3261 (SIP) was part of joint research I did with Professor Henning Schrulzrinne at Columbia University beginning in 1995. And after 20 years, SIP has grown to become the foundation of modern telecommunications. SIP has helped create new markets for new products, it has created jobs for people to build and support systems based on it, and it has helped connect people all over the world. I’m very proud of this work, both personally and professionally.
Standards like SIP are hugely important to Cisco, Cisco’s collaboration products, and to our newest platform, Cisco Spark. The vast majority of deployments of voice and video within enterprises today are full of products from multiple vendors. In order for them to work together, SIP and its related standards are essential. The cornerstone of Cisco’s collaboration portfolio – Cisco Unified Communications Manager – has supported SIP for over a decade. And it’s widely used for connecting to other vendors’ products, as well as interconnecting multiple clusters of our own product.
While we are in many ways in what is called the “post-standards era,” there are many areas where application-layer standards like SIP remain essential even as IP communications moves to cloud. Indeed, SIP interop exists all across our cloud products. WebEx supports SIP-based dial-in and dial-back for video meetings, and this capability is seeing huge growth each day. Cisco Spark supports SIP-based calling, giving every user – free and paid – a SIP URI with which they can make and receive calls from other users outside of Cisco Spark.
SIP and related standards are built in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which has oversight of the technical operations of the Internet. The IETF has been the birthplace of countless technologies – like SIP – that have made the Internet what it is today. IP, TCP, HTTP, SMTP, DNS, DHCP – protocols that every network-savvy engineer knows – were all created by the IETF. The IETF has been around since 1986, long before most people had even heard of the Internet.
The IETF’s continuing importance to Cisco and Collaboration is why – in part – I’m really excited that our own Alissa Cooper has been named as the ninth chair of the IETF. Alissa has a long history of contributions to the IETF, serving most recently as the area director for the set of working groups that produce real-time communications protocols like SIP. Alissa, who was recently appointed to Cisco’s top technical rank of Cisco Fellow, takes the IETF reins in an exciting time. Areas like IoT, SDN, and NFV are requiring significant attention and making big impacts on the industry.
With the IETF in her hands, we can all rest assured that the Internet will continue to grow and expand for the benefit of all.
Read this Q&A with Alissa Cooper about her new role in the IETF.