Posted by Marbenz Antonio on August 4, 2022
The statement that the world runs on open standards of some description is not debatable. Every day, we interact with them, whether it be by using a kettle to boil water (electrical voltage standards first appeared in the early 20th century), reading a PDF document (an open standard made by Adobe® in 2008), using the World Wide Web (an open standard managed by the W3C® since 1994), or even holding a piece of US letter format paper (an ANSI® standard) or A4 paper (an international standard paper size since 1975).
We rely on well-known and widely accepted standards to make the different factors of our life work together, both in the physical world and the digital world. The increasing complexity of computer technology and the expectation that these technologies will interact with one another securely and predictably in the digital world, however, make standardization vital.
In essence, standards are necessary for the globe to address commercial issues. Solutions become more usable and easier to deploy through the process of creating a set of standards that benefit both users and providers.
One of the best examples of an open standard is the Single UNIX® Specification, although it wasn’t always that way. When a technology initially appears and is in its innovative and formative stage, there used to be a wide range of UNIX operating systems based on the original AT&T code base. This process is known as the emergence of different types.
UNIX technology, which was initially created at Bell Laboratories beginning in 1969, was rapidly embraced by corporations in the late 1970s to take advantage of the more strong and reasonably priced computing systems that were entering the market.
As a result, other vendors developed their own versions of the UNIX operating system, which sometimes became incompatible with one another. These differences caused unnecessary obstacles to the transfer of data and applications between systems.
Several businesses joined forces to unify the UNIX community by recognizing the importance of the UNIX platform and, more importantly, the requirement that all UNIX technology implementations be interoperable and compatible to support the massive ecosystem that has been built on top of UNIX systems.
Following an open and inclusive collaboration, the Single UNIX Specification—now the industry standard for UNIX systems—was produced. The Single UNIX Specification, a set of agreed-upon API definitions for the UNIX system, has been kept in the trust of the industry by The Open Group since 1994.
To maintain and advance the standard, The Open Group now works closely with the UNIX community. The standard documentation must be made available online for free, test tools must be provided, the UNIX and POSIX™ certification programs must be managed, and the standard documentation must be made available for reuse in open source projects.
It’s important to remember the value of open standards for the industry, the progress we’ve made toward interoperability of the systems we rely on, and how far we still have to go after more than 25 years since the Single UNIX Specification was created.
The 28-year history of the UNIX operating system seems to be the best proof of the effectiveness and power of standards. The UNIX platform serves as an example of the benefits of transparency because, as a truly open standard, it enables everyone to concentrate on fostering innovation inside the platform’s ecosystem rather than dealing with competing at the level of the core operating system.
The open standard facilitates software portability, gives integrators options for solution building blocks, and frees up customers to concentrate on business concerns rather than integration challenges.
Open standards free up businesses from having to fight with competition about how systems should function, providing them more time and space to concentrate on creating and developing the systems as they are.
The main advantages, however, come after the vendors: open standards allow for efficient internal and external corporate communication and collaboration. They imply that a professional’s accumulated knowledge can be applied to any industry or area in which they choose to operate. They imply that organizations are not prevented from moving toward better, more effective working practices by a lack of information resources.
To even begin the meaningful work of delivering value from that technology, companies would continuously need to negotiate between the walled gardens of various technology providers, reskilling and rehiring staff members as they went.
It’s a situation we should never find ourselves in, and the more complicated the world is and the more difficult it is to conduct business, the more important it is to avoid it.
The Open Group, for instance, is no longer only the keeper of the UNIX platform. The Open Process Automation™ Forum and the Open Footprint™ Forum are two of the initiatives managed by The Open Group that are creating standard methods for gathering and evaluating environmental data, such as emissions, and automating manufacturing, respectively.
In other words, the open standards community will be at the front of collaboration for innovation as we address the big concerns of the future, such as AI and climate change.
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