IES stands for Illuminating Engineering Society. IES standard file format was created for the electronic transfer of photometric data over the web. It has been widely used by many lighting manufacturers and is one of the industry standards in photometric data distribution. An IES file is basically the measurement of distribution of light (intensity) stored in ASCII format. You can think of it as a digital profile of a real world light. In 3d software like 3ds max it can be used for creating lights with shapes and physically accurate form.