OpenStand: A Platform for Global Interoperability

By: Russ Housley, Steve Mills

Standards have proven to be a key facilitator in the growth of the Internet, and now lessons learned during the Internet’s development are fueling a transformation in standards.

The processes that produced the global standards that have helped render the Internet and the Web the premier platforms for worldwide social impact, technological innovation and borderless commerce have revealed a flexible and efficient model for standards development and adoption. This model is emerging as broadly applicable across more and more technology spaces, and it is this model that the newly announced “OpenStand” principles seek to define. Taken together, the principles create a borderless, modern paradigm for global, open standards that is capable of keeping up with the world’s rapid technological advances and interoperability demands.

A Complementary Model of Standards Development and Adoption

Global standards foster interoperability, and, consequently, global standards for centuries have fueled technology innovation, the introduction of more sound and interoperable products and services to consumers, enhanced public safety, and expanded markets for industry. In addition to being fundamental tools of engineering, global standards are fundamental to social well-being. The value and necessity of global standards, in fact, are coming into keener focus in the age of globalization.

In what has effectively become a borderless world of commerce, companies more than ever need global standards in order to cost-efficiently create products and services for rollout to customers all over the world. Certainly the customers benefit, too—with expanded choice, simpler product implementations and better prices. In this way global standards benefit all of humanity.

But borderless commerce is a relatively new phenomenon. Markets were historically defined by the world’s conventional political boundaries, and so the traditional model of standards adoption was logically constructed to align with that industry reality. Internationally relevant standards were recognized by one of the world’s various national standards bodies as created by treaties and other intergovernmental agreements, oftentimes via a one-nation/one-vote scenario. This model of standards adoption is highly familiar and deeply rooted in many technology spaces, and will undoubtedly continue to play a pivotal role in world commerce for many years.

And yet with the fantastic opportunity and pressure to engage in a borderless, globally scoped marketplace, companies have sought more efficient methods for defining the global standards that diminish region-by-region barriers to doing business. In certain key technology areas—the Internet is clearly a notable example—such methods have been honed and have matured. From these methods a market-driven, complementary model of standards development and adoption has been defined, one in which the international relevance of a standard is measured by grassroots uptake in real-world product and service deployments.


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