Standards that enable interoperability drives innovation and industry growth.

For some reason, technology suppliers tend to avoid standards at almost all costs—and the costs can be substantial in terms of losing market share or momentum—in order to build a “complete” solution all their own.

One reason beyond the obvious is that standards creation can be a time-consuming and tedious process.

Where would we be without standardized shipping containers, standardized railway tracks and cars, standardized Ethernet and the ISO stack, and more?

I’ve been working with OPC Foundation and am finishing a white paper about the technology of combining two standards—OPC UA and Time Sensitive Networking. This is going to be huge some day.

I also work with a standards organization known as MIMOSA which has promulgated an information standard for asset lifecycle management.

These are key technologies that can move industry forward

I ran across this article by Ron Miller on TechCrunch about standards in another area—cloud services. This article discusses Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AWS just proved why standards drive technology platforms

Quoting from Miller:

When AWS today became a full-fledged member of the container standards body, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, it represented a significant milestone. By joining Google, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat and just about every company that matters in the space, AWS has acknowledged that when it comes to container management, standards matter.

AWS has been known to go the proprietary route, after all. When you’re that big and powerful, and control vast swaths of market share as AWS does, you can afford to go your own way from time to time. Containers is an area it hasn’t controlled, though. That belongs to Kubernetes, the open source container management tool originally developed inside Google.

AWS was smart enough to recognize that Kubernetes is becoming an industry standard in itself, and that when it comes to build versus buy versus going open source, AWS wisely recognized that battle has been fought and won.

What we have now is a clearer path to containerization, a technology that is all the rage inside large companies — for many good reasons. They allow you to break down the application into discrete manageable chunks, making updates a heck of a lot easier, and clearly dividing developer tasks and operations tasks in a DevOps model.

Standards provide a common basis for managing containers. Everyone can build their own tools on top of them. Google already has when it built Kubernetes, Red Hat has OpenShift, Microsoft makes Azure Container Service — and so forth and so on.

Companies like standards because they know the technology is going to work a certain way, regardless of who built it. Each vendor provides a similar set of basic services, then differentiates itself based on what it builds on top.

Technology tends to take off once a standard is agreed upon by the majority of the industry. Look at the World Wide Web. It has taken off because there is a standard way of building web sites. When companies agree to the building blocks, everything else seems to fall into place.

A lack of standards has traditionally held back technology. Having common building blocks just make sense. Sometimes a clear market leader doesn’t always agree. Today AWS showed why it matters, even to them.


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