Open Standards

What is an open standard?

An open standard is one that you, as a firm or individual, can freely implement in a product and use with no payment or royalties neither conditions. Most open standards have a freely available description (specification) and indeed implementation. Some groups interpret the term "open standard" to include for-money licensed standards. Usually they do this under the so called RAND conditions that can be discriminatory and unreasonable for certain software development or distribution models. Esoma believes this interpretation of "open standard" is partial and bogus, an attempt to claim proprietary standards as "open".

Benefits of open standards

Open standards are the basis of most software markets. That is, a good open standard creates by nature an interoperability domain in which customers can freely choose their suppliers, and suppliers can fairly compete in terms of features, cost, quality, and service, rather than market control, vendor lock-in and secrecy.

Esoma believes that open (royalty free) standards are thus essential for a free market in software, and the Internet network is its best example of innovation and benefit for society and economy.

Government support of open standards

Esoma believes that governments have an important role to play in promoting, defending, and investing in open standards. Good standards are expensive to make, and if built by industry groups, those groups often look to recoup their investments through licensing.

Besides, governments must provide electronic services that doesn't discriminate to the population and enterprises depending who is their IT providers. Open standards are the only existing way to avoid this discrimination. Open standards are interoperable by nature.

Finally, open standards avoid the lock-in of the administrations to concrete providers, being always possible to change the provider of a determined IT application without the excessive burden that usually happens with closed formats and protocols. At the end, and always in the medium and long term, open standards policies mean an important saving for public entities and citizens.

Quality of open standards

Some standards organizations (like ECMA, a private coalition) are not properly representative, and produce standards that while "open" in the paper sense, are in fact designed to legitimize product monopolies. A quality open standard should be backed by at least two competing full implementations of it.

Open standards for producers

By implementing open standards in products, a software producer may feel they are making it easier for customers to replace them with cheaper competitors. We would encourage software producers to win customers by producing more value, higher quality, rather than product lock-in. Implementing open standards gives your customers choice, which (even if they never use it) will generate goodwill.

Open standards for consumers

By choosing standards-based products, you ensure that you are not locked-in to specific suppliers. Whether applied to your documents, email, media, or interfaces, open standards mean you will spend less, have more flexibility, and recoup more benefits from your IT investments.

Read more

The European Interoperability Framework published by IDABC within the European Commission which includes six key points:

“The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all parties (consensus or majority decision etc)”

“The standard has been published and the standard specification document is available either freely or at a nominal charge. It must be permissible to all to copy, distribute and use it for no fee or at a nominal fee”

“The intellectual property – i.e. patents possibly present – of (parts) of the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis”

“The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all parties (consensus or majority decision etc)”

“There are no constraints on the re-use of that standard”