Thursday, 14 November 2013

Fresh thinking for Cloud technologies - the Open Cloud Declaration

Good news for all those who are looking for guidance on Cloud technologies... Under OpenForum Europe's leadership a number of stakeholders in Cloud technologies and services have developed the Open Cloud Declaration. It addresses the full spectrum of what is needed for successful and trusted Cloud computing services.

Special focus is on openness and an open, competitive market for Cloud technologies in order to avoid lock-in and dependency on a single or specific group of providers. In general, the Declaration is a major contribution for forward looking actions regarding the adoption of Cloud technologies and the commitment of market players to drive Cloud technologies as the major computing paradigm of the future.

Friday, 12 July 2013

European Commission guide to better practices in public procurement of ICT technologies

The week before last the EuropeanCommission issued a Communication “Against lock-in: building open ICT systems by making better use of standards in public procurement”. (COM(2013) 455 - together with SWD(2013) 224). This results from Digital Agenda Action Item 23. The objective is to provide guidance on ICT procurement for better procurement by putting more stress on standards and achieving more openness with open ICT infrastructures in public administrations. And this Communication complements a number of other Commission initiatives and guides, above all the European Interoperability Framework. But it also refers to how the new EU Regulation on Standardisation (1025/2012) can help to make use of best-of-breed global ICT standards.

I could be very brief by saying the guide is extremely good. Please read it – it's available on the Commission web site. And public authorities: please make use of it. The open way which is standards based is the better way for increasing choice, flexibility and allowing the uptake of innovative new technologies.

The Communication was presented alongwith the statement that the use of “Open standards would save public sector €1 billion a year”. Personally, I am always cautious with such savings statements. But for sure: Open Standards are a way to achieve cost effectiveness, reduce exit costs for technologies and stifle competition and enable greater choice.

The key aspect, to avoid lock-in, is in the focus of the documents:
“Using ICT systems based on standards instead of proprietary technology will help to open up restrictive public procurement practices, because standards make essential knowledge about a system available to anyone, implying that other potential suppliers could maintain or evolve the system under more competitive terms and conditions.” (Communication, p. 4)
The Guide, published as a Staff Working Document (SWD), is composed to give practical advice on how to proceed for analysis in decision making when taking procurement decisions around ICT. It is clearly structured – and I would add worth reading and inspiring also for non-procurers. It covers the different steps from strategy building to long term budgetary planning. All in all a comprehensive approach with high practical relevance.

The benefits of standards is a key aspect addressed. Or better: procurers are guided towards putting a strong focus on standards, building expertise around standards and standardisation and how to assess what is required to meet their needs. And the Guide is not shy in clearly stating that “FRAND licenses create barriers for Open Source projects to implement the technical specification” (Guide, p. 12), which needs to be considered in the context of software interoperability standards.

All in all two very good and useful documents from the Commission. Some people in their reactions over the last two weeks criticised that the Commission is not going far enough. E.g. that practical interoperability is hampered because the Commission does not act accordingly, e.g. when it comes to document formats. While this may be correct, it is more an issue of the implementation of the Guide than of the Guide as such. And this is also my wish: that the Guide may be promoted and find many followers in public procurement. Following the Guide will promote interoperability and will push the implementation of open ICT ecosystems – with all benefits regarding freedom of choice, encouraging competition and innovation, and driving the uptake of new ICT technologies in the European public sector.

Monday, 17 June 2013

G8 oder G9 - quo vadis Baden-Württemberg?

Vor ein paar Wochen gab es schon mal Zwist in der Grün-Roten Koalition in Baden-Württemberg wegen G9, d.h. insbesondere zofften sich wohl die beiden Franktionsvorsitzenden/innen darüber. Klarer Standpunkt des SPD Franktionsvorsitzenden Schmiedel: Die SPD will mehr Schulen ermöglichen, zu G9 zurück zu kehren, als es im Koalitionsvertrag vor einigen Jahren festgeschrieben wurde. Und die SPD ist auch willens, dies zum Wahlkampfthema zu machen. Zu meiner Überraschung die Position der Grünen, z.B. vertreten von der Fraktionsvorsitzenden Sitzmann: keine Erhöhung der Zahl der Schulen, die G9 wieder einführen dürfen; statt dessen Förderung von Gemeinschaftsschulen und Verbesserungen an G8. In den vergangenen Wochen wurde diese Position seitens der baden-württembergischen Grünen immer wieder bestätigt.

Nun, ich bin ein bekennender Anhänger von G9 - 13 Jahre bis zum Abitur. In einer Welt, in der Bildung und Wissen unser größtes Kapital ist, können wir die 13 Jahre, können wir G9 gut gebrauchen. In G8 wurde schulisches Lernen auf Wissensvermittlung reduziert. Es bleibt einfach kein Platz für echte Bildung, für die Ausgestaltung einer Schule als Mikrokosmos, als Polis, in der nicht nur Wissensblock and Wissensblock gehängt, sondern in der verantwortungsvolle, junge Menschen auf das Leben vorbereitet werden.

Die Grünen wollen offenbar all jene, die nicht gleich auf's G8 gehen oder die sich mit G8 nicht wohlfühlen, in die beruflichen Gymnasien oder in die Gemeinschaftsschule drängen. Das ist Separatismus und konterkariert Durchlässigkeit und Chancengleichheit. Netto heißt das zum Beispiel: Wer heute als Kind nach Klasse 4 nicht gleich ein G8 Gymnasium besucht, kann es nur mit der Überwindung von Hürden zur allgemeinen Hochschulreife bringen. Spätentwickler, Kinder aus bildungsfernen Schichten, deren Eltern sich nicht trauen, ihre Kleinen gleich aufs Gymnasium zu schikcne, sind hier am Ende die Verlierer.

Mir ist die Haltung der Grünen hier nicht klar. Erstaunlich bis Enttäuschend. Ich hätte von der Grün-Roten Landesregierung gerade in der Schul- und Bildungspolitik ein paar Impulse erwartet - Baden-Württemberg bietet ein solides Fundament, auf dem eine innovative Schul- und Bildungspolitik aufbauen könnte. Das bremsen die Grünen aus mir nicht nachvollziehbaren Gründen gerade aus. Schade eigentlich ....

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

EuroCloud Germany – Conference 2013

There is probably no more agile and informative promoter of using and profiting from Cloud technologies in Europe than EuroCloud. EuroCloud cover the full spectrum from creating awareness on the benefits of Cloud technologies to actual requirements gathering for future innovation around the Cloud. In this context, EuroCloud also actively contribute to the work done at ETSI's for defining a Cloud standards map for Europe.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being invited at the EuroCloud Germany annual conference 2013. In my role as co-facilitator of the ETSI standards mapping activity I was invited to speak about Cloud standardisation and the Cloud Standards Coordination. I tried to paint a picture of the Cloud standardisation landscape with some special focus on the fact that a large number of Cloud standards are already available and the actual task is to identify them and prepare for combining them into Cloud solutions. I stressed that standardisation Is going new ways in Cloud with partnering and collaborating closely with customers, e.g. in the Cloud Standards Customer Council, and in taking a community approach for an open Cloud platform as done in the OpenStack Foundation. My slides are available on silde share: 

The programme of the conference was extremely good with a number of high level speakers and excellent presentations. Some of my take-aways are:
  • Cloud technologies are not just a business for CTOs or CIOs in companies, they need to be addressed at the CEO and COO level.
  • It is important to demonstrate to potential Cloud users the actual applications and solutions they can achieve by using the Cloud.
  • Let's not talk Cloud technology more complex than it is – otherwise users will be frightened off.
  • Trust and security are key aspects for Cloud users.
  • Vendor lock-in will not help in achieving a broad uptake of Cloud technologies.
All in all really a great and informative conference. Congratulations to the organisers.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Great new OpenForum Academy publicatoin available

For all who are interested in openness, innovation and standardisation, there is a new collection of papers and essays available from OpenForum Academy titled "Thoughts on Open Innovation". The book, which was edited by Shane Coughlan, has just been published online on the OpenForum Academy website.

The different essays address a large number of what is currently hot in the public discourse - including open data, questions around IPRs, Open Source, etc. There is an excellent introductory section written by Karel de Vriendt. I also contributed a chapter focussing on different IPR regimes in standardisation and their relation to innovation - it's titled "Getting Requirements Right: Towards a Nuanced Approach on Standardisation and IPRs".

Take a look at the book. You can easily download it - or order a printed copy if you prefer. Definitely worth reading.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Industry 4.0 – ready for new wave of innovation

Public discourse about Industry 4.0, the fourth stage of the industrial revolution, is growing vast and rapidly. Almost no day for the last three weeks that the topic was not mentioned in the news in Germany. Working groups are set-up, analyses are being made, strategies are defined.

For those of you who haven't come across the term yet: Industry 4.0 means the ubiquitous support of all industrial process and all machinery by IT technology. What has long been discussed under headings like convergence, smart factory, Internet of Things, process innovation etc. is now subsumed in the catchy concept of Industry 4.0.

Germany is on the forefront of strategy-building regarding Industry 4.0. This may seem only logical given the fact that Germany is a key global producer and exporter of best-of-class machinery of all kinds. Staying on top of technological progress and driving the new wave of innovation that comes with Industry 4.0 is almost a must for an industrial player of the kind of Germany.

The German government had taken leadership more than a year go putting in place an expert group to develop a strategy with recommendations for actions on Industry 4.0. The group's report was published last autumn and is available in German on the website of the German ministry for Education and Research. Henning Kagermann, former CEO of SAP, played a leading role in the expert group and is a major thinker and strategist dealing with the topic area.

Academia and Industry in Germany have also taken up the catch phrase. The German industry association BITKOM has made Industry 4.0 the key topic for the trade showHannover Messe taking place this week. The engineering associations VDE and VDI dedicate special working groups to the topic preparing the grounds for German industry to be a global leader on Industry 4.0. And for academia the highly renown Professor Wahlster, guru onartificial intelligence at the University of Saarland, has developed in the key spokesman and thinker on the topic.

I am sure that Industry 4.0 will shape the next decade. It is not just a sexy catch word that will soon disappear. Far from that. It is the concept level where many things ongoing today come together. It covers the full spectrum of our economy – from Human Resources to Automation. It is where technologies meet, get integrated, be it into huge machinery or smallest devices. It's IT being embedded everywhere. So it goes deep... And it has the potential for boosting innovation.

Industry 4.0 is, for sure, also a key topic for standardisation. To a large extend it is all about standards. Total automation requires standards and interoperability. Things need to work together. Many standards for Industry 4.0 are already available. In order to be able to close gaps first, standards bodies also get ready to address the topic in an effective and efficient way.

What I see is that more systems standardisation work will be done – In order to provide sample infrastructures and identify gaps. Smart Grid, eMobility – all of this goes into this direction. And end-to-end scenarios and use cases are required. Standards bodies will want to promote the uptake of new technologies and standards and will, therefore, address the topic in such a way so that end-to-end scenarios are available.

And standards bodies will have to collaborate even more because standards from different technology areas need to come together. I see in particular IEC and CENELEC in Europe which need to collaborate closely with the leading global ICT standards bodies. This requires a new, integrative approach. New trust and relationship building. And new processes for collaboration across boundaries.

In my opinion Industry 4.0 has a huge potential regarding innovation. It will have major impact on standardisation, on how standardisation is done – and in which bodies. It will provide the grounds for the success path for embedded technologies. Everybody working in standardisation can be looking forward with excitement of Industry 4.0 to evolve further.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Very sad news: Stephane Hessel died aged 95

This is very sad news today. Stéphane Hessel died aged 95. I have full respect for his life-time work on human rights and a more humane society. I read almost all his pamphletes and books written in the last couple of years which have been so influential in Europe and perhaps even more in Northern Africa. A great loss for Europe, a great European - but I am sure that his testimony will live on.

See for instance the commemoration on Le Monde.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Open Standards and Open Source driving Open Innovation

This morning I had the great pleasure to speak about Open Standards and Open Source as sample cases and as drivers for Open Innovation. I was invited as a speaker by the local industry group IT Forum Rhein-Neckar with whom I have been collaborating for many years. The IT Forum regularly holds business breakfast briefings on hot, trendy and interesting topics.There is always a good audience - many people C-level leaders from local entreprises. My co-speaker was Prof. Koelmel from the University of Pforzheim/Germany who gave a very interesting overview on innovation management and open innovation strategies.

It was astonishing to get the feedback how positively IBM is perceived as far as openness and open innovation are concerned. Several people called IBM a role model on open innovation and on constantly transforming itself and adapting to the market place - including the use of open innovation for pertaining global leadership. 

I uploaded my slide deck on slide share for those who like to browse through:

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Enquete-Kommission Internet und Digitale Gesellschaft veröffentlicht Zwischenbericht

The special committee on "the internet and the digital society" of the German parliament accepted their intermediate report earlier this week. The announcement and summary are published on the respective Website of the Bundestag. I had been invited as an expert and spoke in the sub-committee on interoperability, open standards and free software last year.

The summary is very promising. There are a number of excellent points in there - most notably:
  • the benefit of open standards for innovation and for societal independence; 
  • the important role of open source software for the internet and for innovation;
  • to promote open standards by respective action in public procurement and by public authorities;
  • the recommendation that public authorities should buy platform independent software. 
Congratulations to the Enquete Kommission for their work and these intermediate results. I would expect a number of folks will knock at their doors now and try to persuade them to refrain from such clear recommendations. The remarks about different opinions regarding business models etc. already indicates some such influence. But I am positive that the majority in the Enquete Kommission will stay firm - they have a number of good arguments for their excellent positions.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Some outlook on European standardisation in 2013

We are already in the third week of the New Year – and I hope it will be a truly Happy New Year for everyone.

A new year is always a good opportunity to give some outlook on what will be hot and on the agenda for the next 12 months. So I cannot resist of contributing my two cents, as well. So here's my list of what I expect regarding standardisation in 2013.

The high potential for innovation that lies in technology integration will further drive systemic standardisation as well as innovation policy around systemic standardisation:

We have seen several activities of this in the last years, most notably in the area of smart grid and – started recently in Europe – in the area of Cloud. The European Commission wishes to drive innovation and drive the adoption of innovative technologies. Standards play a key role because they ensure interoperability and promote fair competition. Systemic standardisation means to get an understanding of the standards that are available for integration and combination in order to realise the respective technology infrastructures.

For Cloud the European Commission has asked ETSI to coordinate with stakeholders the development of a Cloud standards roadmap. This task shall be completed in 2013 with a first draft being available middle of this year. Just to be clear: this is not about developing standards, it is about identifying the standards that are needed for the technology. In the case of Cloud almost all standards are already available – some functional gaps are being addressed in a number of global standards bodies. For ETIS the challenge is to get the governance right for the coordination work so that all interested parties can participate and that full transparency is ensured throughout the project.

I expect that similar systemic standardisation work will come up on the agenda – some triggered by innovation policy activities of governments. E-Mobility is such an activity that's on the horizon. The e-energy sector may provide for others.

The discussion about standardisation and Intellectual Property Rights will continue:

That's an easy prediction – especially since the Commission already announced that they will organise a workshop on FRAND and Injunctive Relief sometime in 2013. Indeed, a number of topics are being discussed with respect to standardisation and IPRs.

Regarding last November's conference on FRAND and Open Source the Commission made clear that they are not planning follow-on actions on the legal level. Nonetheless, the workshop clearly illustrated the issues that exist when Open Source communities would need to implement standards that are available under FRAND terms. Regarding standards bodies, some suggestions were made that they look at implementing Royalty-free options in order to become better positioned for dealing with Open Source.

This year's Commission conference will focus on other topics addressing the intersection between standardisation and IPRs. The overriding question is whether and where it might be possible to increase certainty or find some common levels of agreement for how to handle given commitments on licensing standards essential patents (SEPs); on how to agree on what makes a FRAND offer really fair and reasonable; under what circumstances should it be ok to have injunctions; how can it be better ensured that commitments remain valid when patents are transferred to new owners; etc. None of this is for regulation or legislation. It is about strengthening the commitment of members of standards bodies, about better processes and fair play. And whatever will be decided will never be able to avoid dispute and sometimes bad behaviour altogether. But it is good to further strive for improvements on the level of standards bodies' directives, IPR policies, etc.

The implementation of the new EU Regulation on standardisation will open up new opportunities for making use of ICT standards in Europe:

The new EU Regulation on standardisation has come into force with the beginning of the new year. For ICT this means some significant changes: (1) The ICT Multi-Stakeholder Platform – set up in a Commission Decision in Nov 2011 – will now act against the new Regulation as THE advisory body to the Commission on all standardisation-related topics; (2) ICT standards from global standards bodies can be identified and officially used in public procurement – based on advice of the ICT Multi-Stakeholder Platform regarding conformance with the requirements and criteria of Annex II of the Regulation.

In essence, both of the above means that Europe does have a largely improved environment for discussing and getting first hand and highly informed advice regarding the policy priorities of the Commission. And by being able to make use of global ICT standards on almost equal footing with European standards in procurement and in policies the Commission can make sure that those standards that need to used are actually available.

Standardisation and innovation – a topic still not fully explored:

A lot has been said about standardisation and innovation. Yet, the topic will remain as exciting as on the first day, I am sure. Innovation is critical for economic success, for growth and prosperity. Therefore, standardisation is a key element in innovation policy. I mentioned some examples above – Cloud, smart grid, e-mobility, etc.

Effective use of standards in the context of innovation policy requires policy makers to take into account the mechanisms of standards and how they promote innovation. This means in particular, to look into software interoperability and promote royalty-free standards for software interoperability so that the high potential for innovation that lies in the integration of SW components can be promoted.

IT Security will continue to be key topic around standardisation:

IT security has had high relevance for many years and this will certainly continue in 2013. Whether we talk about smart grids, e-mobility, Cloud, the internet and the world wide web in general, etc. - security and privacy are key aspects. And standardisation is of key importance in this context. Internationally, SC 27 in ISO/IEC JTC 1 is driving the work on security standardisation.

Interoperability will be continue to be a major issue for ICT infrastructures and -ecosystems:

Interoperability is one of the key reasons for standardisation and for promoting standards. And interoperability prevents single vendor lock-in and promotes fair competition .With the new EU Regulation in place public procurers have much better opportunities to promote interoperability by referencing global open standards in public tenders.

In this context, the work on National Interoperability Frameworks will continue reviewing in how far all the benefits of global open standards are already reaped with government IT infrastructures and with the requirements listed today. The new EU Regulation allows governments to be much more forward looking in terms of requiring open standards and thus promoting interoperability and open IT ecosystems.

The UK have set a new precedent in this respect with their open standards policy published last year. The relevance of open standards will, in this context, remain very high. And other governments around Europe and beyond will evaluated to what extend they move on further into the direction of open standards based procurement and ICT policies. 

Now, I am sure I missed some topics - and that others may have different expectations and observations from the ones I listed above. I am happy to discuss - just add a comment or drop me a message.