The takeaway: If you're guilty of relegating standards support to a "nice to have" feature rather than a requirement, you're part of the problem. If you want products to interoperate, be prepared to walk away if a vendor can't prove compliance. Don't be brushed off with promises of standards support "on the road map." The alternative is vendor lock-in and higher costs, including the cost of maintaining systems that don't work together. Standards bodies are imperfect and must do better. The alternative: splintered networks and broken promises.This is a good article that gets right to the nub of the problem:
"The secret sauce to a successful 'working standard' isn't necessarily IETF or another longstanding body," says Jonathan Feldman, director of IT services for the city of Asheville, N.C., and an InformationWeek Analytics contributor. "Rather, an earnest and honest effort by a group that has governance outside of a single corporation's control is what's important."Bingo! Give that man a see-gar. The way to avoid undue single vendor influence in the development of open standards is to have customers directly involved. Yes, standards development is like making sausage (been there, done that, have a few tee-shirts to prove it), but they need to get involved to ensure a level playing field. Get involved. Unless you are part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
If true interoperability is to be achieved, customers must hold their vendor's feet to the fire and demand it, and they must demand it in the solutions they deploy. IT managers have only themselves to blame when they ask for standards in the RFP yet then deploy solutions that leverage vendor-proprietary extensions that defeat the whole point of the standard (interoperability) and thus allow the vendor to set the hook for vendor-lock. Very often, the perceived gain from leveraging a vendor-specific extension is outweighed down the road when interoperability is needed. IT managers need to know when they are coloring outside the lines so that they can make informed decisions as to the cost-benefit of the added tweak is greater than the lost potential for interoperability.
Standards do matter. They can yield solid business value when they are developed openly and deliver true interoperability on deployment.