Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Are Standards Becoming Barriers to Innovation?

+1 for Stefan Tilkov who +1's Sam Ruby.

Stefan Tilkov says:

The industry as a whole has become so dependent on abstractions that they’re used without regards for their benefit.

Sam Ruby says:

The link is the glue that holds the web together. It is what differentiates the web from protocols like ftp that merely serve as access methods for documents. The very notion of a link has become practically inexpressible and virtually unthinkable in the vernacular of SOA.

And I say, "standards" are becoming the enemy. They used to be the best option out there to defend against lock in. Now I fear that (at least in the integration space) standards are being abused to create barriers to entry and barriers to innovation. Every 6 months there is a new consortium, a new set of specifications, a new media blitz. Perhaps I’m just jaded or naive, but I believe in the future where open systems result in ex post facto standards. Standards should result when there is a ground swell of support from integration practitioners for some person’s or vendor’s open innovation – not from some theoretical agreement from vendors.

09-AUG-06 Updated with fixed name for Stefan Tilkov :O)

6 comments:

markg said...

I think you are giving way to much credit to the influence of the industry on a whole to the average IT shop.

Standards have not grown strong roots in practice as much as in the mind of the vendors and analyst. Everyone is talking about them but it is still business as usual for a lot of shops (not all mind you, some have adopted but I would argue they are in the minority).

I do think standards in the integration space can help. Vendor lock in is a very real problem in IT shops that are less development focused and more third party package in nature. Some standards whether home grown or industry driven along with the proper abstraction layer can reduce the time an organization spends in maintenance churn mode versus delivering value/innovation.

fuzzy said...

Hi Mark,

Vendors and analyst opinions have a huge impact IMHO. How else can we explain SOA and WS-*?

Sure, perhaps not many people are paying attention to many of the standards in IT shops, but they are all talking about them.

Don't get me wrong - I like standards. I'm just hopeful when the day that Open Source Solutions are so prevalent that standards aren't used as a tactic.

Mike

Anonymous said...

It's Stefan Tilkov, BTW.

markg said...

Hi Mike,
I think you are right about their influence in designing the standards and rolling out products to support them. I just think a lot shops ignore the actual implementation part. :)

I like open source too but it's not always an easy sell to big corporate America, although it is changing somewhat. I still think vendor lock in is possible with open source as well.

We can get to wrapped up with abstraction and standards but you have to know where to draw the line. From what I have read it sounds like you have found that happy medium with your EDA implementations.

zpope said...

becoming? becoming?

Standards have been used by companies for market and tactical advantages ever since I can remember. That includes work with the ITU, work on OSI, and even the IETF (though less) beginning back in the early '80s. The current model is to standardize before experimentation, experience, and, well knowledge frankly. Even more broken then before.

Standards are good when they standardize experience and best practices. Predictive standards just don't work.

fuzzy said...

Well said zpope. I was trying to be nice ;) And I hesitate to say "standards are the enemy". But too often these days I truly think they are.

You have watched this game longer then I so you can let 'er rip ;)