Network Basics: Understanding Standards

A standard is an agreed-upon definition of a protocol. Standards are industry-wide protocol definitions that are not tied to a particular manufacturer. With standard protocols, you can mix and match equipment from different vendors. As long as the equipment implements the standard protocols, it should be able to coexist on the same network.

Many organizations are involved in setting standards for networking. The five most important organizations are:

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI): The official standards organization in the United States. ANSI is pronounced AN-see.

  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): An international organization that publishes several key networking standards — in particular, the official standard for the Ethernet networking system (known officially as IEEE 802.3). IEEE is pronounced eye-triple-E.

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO): A federation of more than 100 standards organizations from throughout the world.

  • Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF): The organization responsible for the protocols that drive the Internet.

  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): An international organization that handles the development of standards for the World Wide Web.

Web Sites for Major Standards Organizations
Organization Web Site
ANSI (American National Standards Institute) www.ansi.org
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) www.ieee.org
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) www.iso.org
IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) www.ietf.org
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) www.w3c.org