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On Open Source, Standards, Clouds, Strategy and Open Stack

Bits & Pieces - Simon Wardley - The issue of standards and in particular open standards is a hotly debated topic. The recent UK Government consultation on open standards was embroiled in much of the politics on the subject with even a media expose of the chair of a consultation meeting as a member of a paid lobbyist group. The rumours and accusations of ballot stuffing of ISO meetings with regards to Microsoft’s OOXML adoption as an open standard are also fairly widespread. The subject matter is also littered with confusing terms from FRAND (fair, reasonable and non discriminatory licensing) being promoted as an “open” standard despite it being IP encumbered by definition.

In general, the principle of standards is about interoperability. In practice, it’s appears more of a battleground for control of a developing market. Standards themselves can also create new barriers to entry into a market due to any onerous cost of implementation. There are also 17 different definitions of what an “open standard” is varying from international bodies to governments. Of these the OSI definition is probably the most respected. Here, open standards are defined as those which have no intentional secrets, not restricted by patents or other technology, no dependency on execution of a license agreement, freely and publicly available and royalty free.