Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The new IBM principles for IT standardisation: day 2

It has been an exciting day after IBM's announcement on our new standards policy yesterday. I got several reactions from people asking for more information, what the announcement means, why IBM is doing it etc. And I got some reactions of concern that IBM, as part of the press wrongly put it, is going to withdraw from standardisation and to leave standards organisations.

To be very clear: the new IBM IT standards policy is above all a reconfirmation on the importance of standards and of IBM's commitment to the development and the implementation of standards. Yet, we will be less willing to accept just anything that calls itself a standard. We will much more be concerned about processes, about openness and transparency, and about the availability of standards for implementation.

And to be equally clear: the new IBM IT standards policy is not about leaving any standards organisations. We will look at processes more carefully, will more proactively ask for improvements, drive discussions about how to improve the overall quality of standards and standardisation. As Bob Sutor put it in his blog:

IBM belongs to many, many fine standards organizations and we look forward to long and productive relationships with them. These organizations and their work are strategic to IBM’s business and the products and services it offers to its customers. IBM is proud to be a member of these groups. [....]

With this principle, IBM is saying that it will increasingly look more closely at issues like the openness and transparency of a standards organization, as well as the modernness and consistency of the processes and intellectual property rules. IBM did so before, but it will do more in the future. IBM will sharpen and communicate its criteria to those involved in a cooperative manner.

Notwithstanding the various sexy headlines I’ve seen today, leaving a standards group would be a last resort. Though IBM is but one company, it hopes to use its experience to help resolve problems that are found in a constructive and collegial way, before the situation becomes too dire.

So no need to be concerned. IBM will be committed to standards, which is: open standards, as strong as we used to be. And this commitment will from now on be based on a set of principles, clearly worded, clearly and publicly communicated.

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