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Open Source, Open Standards, Open Minds Event Highlights Business Impact on Standardization


04/17/2016

The Open Source, Open Standards, Open Minds event in Washington D.C. on April 15 revealed expert insights on open source and its impact on the standards community. The event was an effort by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in partnership with American University and the George Washington University. Over 140 industry professionals from government, industry, business, academia, and consumer groups signed up to attend the panel sessions.

McCoy Smith, patent, intellectual property, and open source attorney at Intel, presented the keynote address, which can be found here.

The interactive panel sessions covered the following topics:


Industry Impact
 

Manufacturers and service providers are already being impacted by the co-mingling of open source and standards. Panelists described how open source is already influencing the direction of their products, systems, and services. The interactive panel discussion (no presentations were given) included:

  • Wendy Dehmer, Intel

  • Jason Matusow, Microsoft

  • Steve Widergren, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

When it comes to the intersection and interaction between open source and traditional standards, panelists felt that people tend to get wrapped up in the legal issues and licensing, but it’s really about organizational culture. Is this the type of organization that can embrace open source solutions?

And when it comes to standards and open source working together, panelists found that technical interoperability is almost never the problem. Rather the roadblocks come with borders, semantics, people, organizational culture, and business models.

They also discussed the issue of “lock-in” – where a particular technology, product, or solution becomes dominant – reminding attendees that this is largely a commercial issue, not a technical one. The open source community needs to understand that it may need to abdicate some freedoms in order to have commercial agreements.

Finally, panelists described open source as synonymous with innovation and continuous improvement. But some areas of industry prefer solutions that have long-term stability to protect their investment, particularly in risky fields like cybersecurity.

The Right Tool for the Job: Traditional Standards, Open Source, and Hybridization

Having heard how industry stakeholders are using traditional standards and open source, how does the broader standards development community satisfy industry requirements? For example, some standards developing organizations (SDOs) have already hybridized their work and are working effectively within both the traditional and open source environments. Panelists from these organizations shared their experiences with “hybridization” alongside perspectives from those who are working in a purely open source environment.

Panelists (presentations linked) included:

Panelists were unanimous in stating that standards and open source can and do work well together. It’s all about implementation and which solution or solutions are right for the product, service, or scenario.

In terms of the practical aspects of specification development, panelists noted that Github is like Facebook for the open source community – everyone is using it. We may see a transition to a Github-like approach in traditional standards development as well.

Finally, if the traditional standards community wants to move faster, one panelist suggested that SDOs look at aspects of the open source model.

IPR Policies and the Business of Standardization

How have organizations’ IPR policies and business models been impacted by hybridization? Panelists (presentations linked) included:

Patent issues are complex, and different organizations are using different approaches to this challenge. While the Apache 2.0 license is common in the open source community – in summary, you can do what you like with the software, as long as you include the required notices – there is no one best practice that has emerged across all organizations.

Event proceedings are also posted on www.ansi.org/opensource2016. The photos taken at the event are available as well.

ANSI Incorporated by Reference IBR Portal