Standards 2010: Prospects and Challenges for Standards Development in the Next Decade


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Standards 2010: Prospects and Challenges for Standards Development in the Next Decade

As standards organizations enter the 2010s, they face very different circumstances than a decade a ago. At the dawn of the "2000s," analysts warned us that a key risk was the creation of a "tower of babel" as industry standards groups proliferated nearly as fast as start-ups. By the end of the decade, some groups had achieved measurable interoperability gains, but only at the cost of years of upfront committee time followed by implementation and revision cycles also spanning years. Today, standards organizations that have managed to survive the decade's two boom and bust cyles face vastly different funding circumstances and participation levels. At the same time, standards organizations are challenged by an accelerating pace of technology and marketplace change.

In this session, Chuck Allen, founder of the HR-XML Consortium and an adviser to other standards initiatives, will offer a survey of the state of standards development, including key challenges and new approaches. Among topics to be reviewed are:

Development methodologies. The committee processes driving most standards development organizations (SDOs) have remained largely unchanged over the past decade (STAR standards being an important exception). Most SDOs take months or years to spec out a standard with meaningful development against the specification beginning only after publication. While standards organizations have been slow to adapt their methodologies, in the same period, many enterprises have significantly transformed their internal development processes through the adoption of a range of agile methodologies. While there is growing recognition of the need to update standards development process, the prospect of applying agile methodologies to standards development tends to be met with equal degrees of interest and trepidation.

Intellectual property. Most standards organizations manage intellectual property by requiring participants to grant royalty-free licenses to the SDO and to anyone implementing the standard. For companies with large patent portfolios, this can impose a burden of expensive patent inventory searches and monitoring. Since each SDO has slightly different licensing terms, current licensing practices also prove challenging for an implementer wanting to apply multiple standards as well as for standards development organizations trying to converge standards. Patent non-assertion policies and efforts to simplify and standardize licenses hold some promise is reigning in the complexity associated with managing IP.

Funding models. Standards cost money to develop and maintain. However, traditional funding approaches, such as pay-to-play" and "pay-for-the-standard" don't always keep up with funding needs and can work as disincentives for adoption and engagement. There isn't an easy answer to the question of financial sustainability for many SDOs, particularly in these tight economic times. The answer likely lies in a combination of approaches, including doing more with less, the design of attractive sponsorships, meeting and programming fees, and taking advantage of grant opportunities.

About the Speaker

Chuck Allen, Integration Architect at SilkRoad technologies, Inc., was the founder and Executive Director of the HR-XML Consortium, Inc. Prior to founding HR-XML in Dec. 1999, Allen worked in a variety of new product development roles for major business publishers, including Thomson (now Thomson-Reuters) and the Bureau of National Affairs. Allen has a B.A. from the University of Virginia.

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  • One item I didn't mention in funding options is contributed labor or services-in-kind. This is basically where a member-company is contributing the services of an employee or contractor to work on the Consortium's projects. The key is transparency. For example, IBM organized and had full-time resources essentially donated to the OpenAjax Alliance. I don't believe there generally were any problems with this as the nature of the contribution was disclosed to participants. Problems arise where there are not adequate disclosures.
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Standards 2010: Prospects and Challenges for Standards Development in the Next Decade

  1. 1. Standards 2010: Prospects and Challenges for Standards Development in the Next Decade<br />STAR General Session Meeting: February 11, 2010 <br /> Chuck Allen<br /> Founder, HR-XML Consortium, Inc.<br /> Integration Architecture, SilkRoad technology inc.<br />
  2. 2. Today’s agenda<br />Standards. Where are we are today? Where are we going?<br />Convergence – advantages/challenges.<br />Development methodologies – How STAR is influencing others. A few thoughts about balancing / continuous development and providing stability.<br />Intellectual Property – A few thoughts why a bit of fresh review is a good idea.<br />Funding – diversifying funding sources<br />Need to create new offerings meeting known needs/use, while staying within your organization’s charter and maintaining value of membership.<br />Training, certification, sponsorships, international franchises.<br />
  3. 3. Then…<br />Warnings of the specpocalypse; <br />“A plethora of XML grammars have emerged since 1997, when the first XML specifications were released by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of different XML vocabularies have been created by industry consortia and software vendors.”<br />Information Age, Dec. 10 2001 <br />
  4. 4. Then: 1999-2001<br />“Wildly proliferating ‘MLs’ in every business domain,” Gartner Analyst, Rita Knox (2001).<br />Some newly formed consortia were as flush with cash as some Internet startups.<br />Newly formed consortia were largely influenced by existing methodology, IP regimens from W3C, IETF, ANSI X12, OASIS, Rosettanet, etc. <br />Specifications proliferated. These ranged from XML-makeovers of EDI standards to “green field” work where no prior standards existed (e.g., HR-XML).<br />We thought the pace of change was fast. We thought our communities were networked for change.<br />
  5. 5. Where We Stand Today<br />Much has been achieved in 10 years, but we greatly underestimated the time to get standards to maturity.<br />How do we improve? Going forward, how can we better manage time-to-maturity? <br />Convergence has many benefits, but creates dependencies among groups. STAR 7,8? -&gt; OAGIS X -&gt; UN/CEFACT 3.0 -&gt;…<br />How do we maintain agility in cross-industry work? How do you maintain balance in influencing/opening yourself to be influenced?<br />We overbuilt. Working in the abstract, unconstrained by having to test or implement we sometimes produced “kitchen sink” standards. Ease of implementation often took a back seat.<br />Can we lighten up / devise practical approaches for “context”?<br />There is a conflict between providing stability for adopters and moving standards forward.<br />How do we keep standards relevant; easier to implement; provide predictability for adopters? Do we have governance structures, methodologies, leadership to deal with both challenges? <br />
  6. 6. Cross-Industry Convergence<br />Many standards organizations.<br />Most of these groups at least initially created own rules for constructing their business vocabularies.<br />Over the past 5-6 years, significant architectural convergence activity. More shared best practices; more alignment on OAGi BODs, core components, etc.<br />Some organizational convergence. e.g., CIDX into OAGi<br />
  7. 7. Organizational Convergence Example - CIDX<br />At the end of 2008 CIDX (Chemical Industry Data Exchange) transitioned its standards and operations to OAGi and then ceased to exist as a corporation. <br />Organizations<br />Standards<br />owns<br /><ul><li>OAGi
  8. 8. CIDX
  9. 9. AgGateway
  10. 10. American Chemistry Council (ACC)
  11. 11. Chemical Information Technology Center (ChemITC®)
  12. 12. OAGIS
  13. 13. ChemeStandards
  14. 14. Ag eStandards
  15. 15. None.Has given exclusive license to OAGi to manage Chem Standards. Operates ChemITC to provide direction setting for OAGi and pays into OAGIS to fund maintenance.</li></ul>owns<br />owned<br />same<br />uses<br />Adapted fr. OAGi Chemical Industry Council Meeting slides, Jim Wilson, 2009-05-05<br />
  16. 16. Standards Development<br />STAR is ahead of the pack in applying continuous integration approaches to standards development.<br />More groups looking at applying continuous development/agile approaches to standards.<br />Can be applied to maintenance and new work.<br />Important to have some separation of development releases from normative releases.<br />e.g., STAR has many interim releases during the year, but only a single normative release.<br />A good pattern to implement and elaborate upon – keeping development and the setting conformance criteria in the industry as separate things to be managed. Separate, but parallel schedules.<br />
  17. 17. Intellectual Property<br />
  18. 18. IP<br />Why is it an issue again? <br /> Convergence brings new IP challenges.<br /> Economic stress tends to breed IP issues.<br /> Interest in new approaches to simplifying IP management.<br /> Trends in handling IP in collaborations outside of traditional standards organizations.<br />
  19. 19. Jacobsen v. Katzer<br />Fed appeals court decision helps affirm that open-source style licenses, requiring attribution, etc., enforceable.<br />Case involved Robert Jacobsen, principal developer in Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI) project, on open-source incubation site <br />Katzer accused Jacobsen of patent infringement, Jacobsen accused Katzer of using code from JMRI project in a way that violated the open-source license (the “Artistic License,” requiring attribution, etc.).<br />On appeal, a federal appellate court determined that:<br />The terms of the Artistic License are enforceable copyright conditions.<br />Katzer&apos;s knowledge or intent in removing copyright notices are triable issues. <br />
  20. 20. Jacobsen v. Katzer Implications<br />Appeals Court decision clears way for case to go to trial.<br />Open-source license requirements, such as attribution and maintenance of copyright notice, are enforceable.<br /> Enforceable even in the case of the “Artistic License,” a license originally written by non-lawyer and Perl creator, Larry Wall. License language said to lack legal precision, but appeals court considers it enforceable.<br />Helpful for standards organizations as licensors. <br />But, standards orgs need to take note of decision as licensees of other standards content. Ensure that requirements of the various licenses are met and are not incompatible (next topic: License Soup).<br />
  21. 21. License Soup<br />Convergence is a good thing, but in the process a “license soup” is being created.<br />STAR is to be commended for offering its library under a “standard” license (Eclipse license), but what licensed content does STAR include? Under what terms? <br />Looking 2, 5, or 10 years out and considering change in standards space is STAR confident of its ability to move its library forward unencumbered?<br />Consider HR-XML 3.0 includes OAGIS and UN/CEFACT content. Each has different licenses. HR-XML’s 3.0 license being most restrictive, followed by UN/CEFACT (doc related derivations only), and then OAGIS, which is very business permissive.<br />It doesn’t matter until it matters. Consider U.S. DOD funded ADL Initiative. ADL created and is the “steward” of SCORM, a compilation of standards (IMS, IEEE, AICC) in a “reference model.” After investment of tens of millions in SCORM, ADL finds itself constrained in taking its reference model in new directions.<br />Actions? Review of licensed content, discuss with providers of licensed content. MOUs? Aligning licenses? Plan for the rainy day.<br />
  22. 22. OASIS Non-Assertion Mode<br />Introduced in 2009 as an option for new technical committees.<br />Requires “obligated parties” to provide an OASIS Non-Assertion Covenant – a covenant that theywill not enforce essential claims. <br />On top of three existing options:<br />RAND - All Obligated Parties to license their essential claims under reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. <br />Royalty Fee on RAND Terms - All Obligated Parties to license their essential claims royalty free and RAND. <br />RF on Limited Terms - All Obligated Parties to license their essential claims RF and without other technology/property restrictions. <br />Promises to simplify IP handling for companies with large IP policies for projects where there is abundant prior art or projects that otherwise aren’t likely to present IP controversies.<br />Many license-based IP handling approaches are administratively unworkable and perhaps rely on an implicit non-assertion assumption.<br />
  23. 23. OASIS Non-Assertion Mode<br />Under Non-Assert Mode: “Each Obligated Party in a Non-Assertion Mode TC irrevocably covenants that, subject to Section 10.3.2 and Section 11 of the OASIS IPR Policy, it will not assert any of its Essential Claims covered by its Contribution Obligations or Participation Obligations against any OASIS Party or third party for making, having made, using, marketing, importing, offering to sell, selling, and otherwise distributing Covered Products that implement an OASIS Final Deliverable developed by that TC.”<br />OASIS TCs can’t switch IP modes unless they “re-charter” themselves.<br />Challenging for any organization to switch licensing/IP handling, though some organizations doing this.<br />
  24. 24. OpenWeb: IP Governance for Informal Groups<br />How do informal groups (non-incorporated) groups create useful specs while protecting IP? e.g., oAuth and OpenID<br />Explored by OpenWeb Foundation, a set of model agreements.<br />Doesn’t own the IP, sees itself as facilitator like<br />Under OpenWeb model, group signatories grant a broad royalty-free license (with attribution). Includes the right to create derivatives.<br />Two options for “necessary claims.”<br />A royalty-free patent non-assert (allows assertion in defense – no “shoot first”)  <br />Traditional – make necessary claims available on RF RAND terms.  <br />What does this mean to consortia? <br />Is it complimentary? A way to get projects established in an informal, lower-risk manner, before they are contributed to a standards org or Consortium?<br />A lighter-weight alternative to Consortia?<br />Backing by social networking cos: FaceBook, Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube.<br />
  25. 25. Funding<br />
  26. 26. Funding<br />Funding can be critical, but isn’t sufficient.<br />There are more than a few examples of well-funded standards organizations that didn’t return commensurate results. <br />Need funding for staff. <br />Staff get things done and ensure process conformance. <br />Supporting sustainability in ways that members are not able to.<br />
  27. 27. Funding Models/Sources<br /><ul><li>Difficult or impossible to insulate non-profits from business cycles, but diversifying funding sources can help.</li></ul>“Pay to Play” is a common model. Members fund the organization and membership confers governance rights, other benefits. <br />Being member-funded and member-driven can clarify an org’s charter, but sometimes narrows it. <br />
  28. 28. Funding Models/Sources<br />Diversifying sources of funding<br />Most (but not all orgs) want to keep core specs freely available. Many also reserve content for members only. Should some content (implementation guides) and facilities (test suites, utilities) be for fee?<br />Sponsorships. There are orgs that will never be members, but may have interests in the community your organization engages.<br />“Sponsorships” offer more flexibility in designing offerings around interests of target audience.<br />Sponsorships can leave out expensive IP entanglement.<br />Training? <br />Certification?<br />Grants?<br />Franchise-Model International Chapters?<br />Does your org have the right competencies to pursue new funding sources?<br />
  29. 29. Funding Outlook<br />Membership funding of Consortia (“Pay to Play”) is still a dominant funding approach.<br />The cumulative effect of two recessions has been hard on Consortia.<br />Consolation in maturing industry sectors has “shrunk the pool” of available funding for many consortia. <br />Most organizations are making do with less (cutting travel, doing more work virtually, etc)<br />Some orgs may reorganize (e.g., CIDX); go into “maintenance mode”.<br />
  30. 30. Monetizing Training<br />Many people looking for implementation training versus standards participation.<br />Implementers find that skills with web services and complex libraries like STAR are still scarce.<br />Opportunity to monetize something that also builds the implementer community.<br />Many options for development of on-demand training modules.<br />Important to develop based on what people want to know, versus what you want to tell them…<br />
  31. 31. Grants<br />A narrow set of opportunities exist. A good fit for some groups, but may be time consuming and unproductive for others.<br />Typically grant vehicles are for high-reward, transformative initiatives or research.<br />Often designed to get a new project to the point of sustainability – not to sustain projects. <br />Takes skill to craft proposals that meet the technical requirements of grant vehicle in persuasive way.<br /> <br />Need a DUNs to register for an organization.<br />The org point of contact (POC) registers on the U.S. government’s central contractor registration (CCR) system.<br />“Authorized organization representatives” (AORs - the people working on grant apps) register on, which confirms with CCR-register POC.<br />U.S. NIST TIP program <br />
  32. 32. Example: NIST TIP Competition<br />
  33. 33. Certification<br />For-fee certification programs. <br />Mixed experience.<br />At HR-XML, had some success in generating revenue and building certification awareness.<br />Risk of being marketing success without impacting real interoperability. <br />Story late last year: Veterans Administration canceled $10 mil contract for LMS implementation when vendor failed to deliver advanced features of SCORM standards, despite being SCORM certified.<br />
  34. 34. International Franchises<br />HR-XML, XBRL, other groups have experience setting up Franchise-Model international operations (and shutting them down).<br />Franchise-model involves a contract between existing org and legal entity establishing chapter in other country.<br />Avoids a subsidiary relationship under which existing org might become directly subject to the employment, financial reporting, etc. regs in other country.<br />Can be done, but governance can be tricky. Your brand on the line.<br />What is the role of the franchise? Education? Implementation support? Management of projects focused on localized requirements?<br />If done before your organization shores up its sustainability model, you might only succeed in creating a new org following an unsustainable model.<br />International chapters may be well positioned for seed money from government sources. E.g., a European chapter likely to get funds not available to a U.S. entity.<br />
  35. 35. Questions?<br />