Open Standards, Innovation, and Our World

Posted on August 30th, 2017


Where open standards exist, innovation is driven; disruptive technologies emerge.

That’s how a recent article around the critical need for open standards in our society began, and we couldn’t agree more. While we’ve been pushing for open standards across the Internet for years, it’s always refreshing and enlightening to read about that same push from another perspective. In this case, it is how open standards can help in manufacturing.

We often spend time focusing on the esoteric aspects of open standards. However, a piece in Automation World simply titled “The Importance of Open Standards” takes a look at how open standards can make the Industrial Internet of Things a true game changer for the manufacturing industry.

The article uses the some familiar principles to define open standards – those accepted by affirming OpenStand partners IEEE, Internet Society (ISOC), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). To review, those core principles are:

  1. Cooperation
  2. Adherence to principles
  3. Collective empowerment
  4. Availability
  5. Voluntary adoption

The author goes on to demonstrate how his company, Profibus and Profinet International (PI), the largest automation community in the world, has proven their belief in open standards and each of the principles. For example, they observe adherence to principles through an extensive Call for Experts process where all members equally provide input. Our technical standards are developed in PI Working Groups, the processes and guidelines for which are published online.

Have organizations like this acknowledge the necessity for open standards in their field is the exact type of promotion we need to further the mission of OpenStand throughout the world. They state, and we absolutely agree, that “now, in the fourth industrial revolution, analytics and Big Data collected via increased connectivity are being driven by open standards.”

Join us in supporting the OpenStand Principles and be sure to let us know in the comments ways that you have seen open standards impact manufacturing industries.

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Are We Holding the ‘Death’ of Open Standards in Our Hands?

Posted on August 23rd, 2017


Smartphones are everywhere these days. Nearly everywhere you look, people are using their devices to communicate, shop, track fitness, lock their doors or even change the settings on their home heating and air conditioning units. We are getting ever closer to controlling almost every aspect of our lives from the palm of our hand.

However, if you take away the phone, these other gadgets tend to exist in a vacuum. The phone is home base for all of them, and they have no awareness of each other. Interconnectivity as a whole remains incomplete with no industry wide standards to fix it. Open standards across the Internet of Things (IoT) devices can be of major value to smartphone users, allowing for better, more inclusive interconnectivity.

Fast Company’s article “How the Smartphone Era Led to the Death of Open Standards,” examines how, during the PC age, Microsoft was able to develop industry standards that were designed to help objects connect with each other. However, as the popularity of Apple and Google through Android devices drew, and the smartphone became the dominant method of Internet usage, their proprietary standards became increasingly dominant.

However, as we’ve pointed out before, open standards in the age of the smartphone can be enormously valuable for users. Open standards can help to drive down costs, amp up innovation and improve access, benefitting and giving more choices to the millions of global smartphone users. Our guiding principles are built around the idea that innovation and collaboration within the framework of open standards allows for better global interoperability, scalability, stability, and resiliency as well as enabling global competition and continuously encouraging providers to provide the best security possible.

While it’s too early to say what impact proprietary standards may have on development of IoT standards, “…if smartphones define the post-PC era, the Internet of Things may come to define a more disparate, decentralized post-smartphone era. Smartphones will still play a role–just as PCs continue to matter–but it wouldn’t be a central one from which the dominant companies can dictate standards. That would give industry groups the opportunity to build bridges between at least some of the islands that the smartphone era is creating.”

How do you think smartphones have impacted open standard development? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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IACHR Publishes Comprehensive Report: “Standards for a Free, Open and Inclusive Internet”

Posted on August 16th, 2017


In March of 2017, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published “Standards for a Free, Open and Inclusive Internet” with the aim to “assist the member States in their efforts to incorporate a human rights-based focus in the design, development, and implementation of policies affecting the Internet.” The report drew upon the 2013 Report on Freedom of Expression and the Internet, but served to update and broaden its analysis to the new challenges faced in the exercise of human rights online, particularly freedom of expression.

In publishing this work, the IACHR continues their acknowledgment that the Internet is a unique tool with the potential to expand human rights, particularly the right to freedom of expression, through broader public arenas. As the Internet grows and expands in its complexity, so grows its ability to be that instrument and to increase levels of social benefits and inclusion. However, they also are quick to include that “in order for the benefits of the Internet and other communications technology to be distributed inclusively and sustainably among the population, the relevant policies and practices must be based on respecting and guaranteeing human rights especially the right to freedom of expression, which facilitates and enables the exercise of other rights on the Internet.”

The report also focuses on narrowing down their guiding principles for a free and open Internet, access to the Internet, multi-stakeholder governance, quality and nondiscrimination. One such Guiding Principle is the “relevance of the Internet as a platform for the enjoyment and exercise of human rights is directly tied to the architecture of the web and its governing principles, including the principles of openness, decentralization, and neutrality.”

These sorts of efforts mirror those of OpenStand and our Modern Paradigm for Standards. In order to have a free and open Internet that can benefit all, there must be standards developed that, among other things, encourage collective empowerment that contribute to the creation of global communities and that benefit humanity.

What do you think about these efforts from the IACHR? Did any of the report specifically strike you? If so, let us know in the comments!

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Are Standards The Next Defense Against DDoS Attacks?

Posted on August 9th, 2017


The more businesses are keeping data online, the more opportunity for cybercriminals to attack. And, since digital isn’t going anywhere, businesses are forced to take measures to protect themselves from all manner of cyberattacks.

One particularly popular and nasty cyber attack is a distributed denial of service, or DDoS. When an organization, or group of organizations, are victims of a DDoS attack, it means hackers from anywhere in the world send enormous amounts of useless data to their target. All of that garbage data overwhelms the target’s servers to the point where the target can no longer accept incoming requests. Eventually the network and servers slow to a crawl or, in some cases, shut down completely. In recent attacks, the endpoints went beyond laptops and PCs to all manner of connected, or IoT, devices such as baby monitors and printers.

These attacks show no signs of slowing down. In fact, according to leading content delivery network (CDN) services provider, Akamai, DDoS attacks greater than 100Gbps increased by 140% year-over-year in just the last quarter of 2016.

While organizations are continuing to spend huge amounts of money to combat these attacks, the answer may be in a new direction. A recent article in information age asks if it is time for software and hardware manufacturers to consider using standards to address security risks in the IoT.

“One key standard is the Open Trusted Technology Provider Standard, or O-TTPS, which addresses these issues around supply chain security and product integrity. Recently approved as ISO/IEC 20243, this set of best practices can be applied from design to disposal, throughout the supply chain and the entire product life cycle.”

These types of standards try to mitigate tainted and counterfeit hardware from even coming into the supply chain. That way, they’ll never have the opportunity to get into Internet connected devices. Within the standard there is a process for vulnerability analysis and notification of newly discovered and exploitable product weaknesses requirements that can catch risk areas. Then, these attacks can be blocked or slowed and significantly reduce the damage done.

While, as the article states, standards can’t categorically prevent the inception of DDoS attacks, what they can do is mitigate their effectiveness and limit their economic damage.

“Further steps need to be taken in the form of collaboration, whereby we reach a point where we can recognize which technology and technology providers can be trusted and which cannot. But adhering to global standards provides a powerful tool for technology providers and component suppliers around the world to combat current and future DDoS attacks.”

While we know standards aren’t the golden ticket to a future free of cyber attacks, they can certainly be a step in the right direction. This is especially true of those created in a collaborative environment and adhering to our Modern Paradigm for Standards.

Do you think standards could be the answer to slowing down the progression of DDoS attacks? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning more about OpenStand, check out our OpenStand infographics.


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OpenStand Partner IETF Holds Sixth Hackathon

Posted on August 2nd, 2017


Internet usage pioneers, and OpenStand Affirming Partner, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) recently held their sixth hackathon event. This event, through running open source code, was able to find and highlight missing or unclear areas of standards, subsequently improving the standards.

According to the IETF event recap, this Hackathon drew approximately 120 participants on site, plus more than 20 remotely. Work covered a broad range of IETF topics with valuable and inspiring results. The Hackathon had two primary goals:

  1. Advance the pace and relevance of IETF work
  2. Attract young people and developers to the IETF

One of the ways the Hackathon increases the pace and relevance of IETF work is via running code. Implementing evolving standards and producing running code validates the standards and highlights things that may be missing, wrong, or ambiguous in draft versions of these standards. Better still, if the code is open source, viewing and sharing the source code aids in understanding of a standard, makes it easier to use, and promotes its adoption. Open source projects that featured prominently this Hackathon included OpenDaylight, ONOS, VPP, Joy, and many others. For a list and brief description of the Hackathon projects, see the wiki.

These Hackathons work well and are a consistent draw in part because they are not designed for a single developer to “win.” The spirit is collaborative and success is measured in how they can improve the Internet as a whole. Free participation and bragging rights over prize money mean genuine and honest friendly competition.

The OpenStand Principles work towards transparency, openness, cooperation and voluntary adoption within the working Internet. These are qualities that align with the open source community. That’s why events such as these continue to demonstrate how open source code can be used to aid in the understanding, utilization and improvement of internet standards in an open way.

These types of events exemplify the collaborative spirit at the heart of the mission of the IETF. They have a goal to make the Internet work better by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet. For more information on winners or how to participate in the next Hackathon, read IETF’s recap here.

These are also the types of events supports of Open Standards should participate in, if able. By collaborating, the internet will only continue to grow and become a better tool for all. Join us in working to make the web a better place; become an OpenStand advocate! Go here to Display a site badge on your website.

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Are Credibility Standards the Answer to Misinformation on the Web?

Posted on July 26th, 2017

Image: everything possible

What if developing and defining a set of credibility standards could influence how people share and display content? The problem of misinformation online isn’t new, but we have certainly seen new focus on it lately. At a recent event designed to fight against this decimation of misinformation, a number of the digital projects saw a theme emerge: credibility standards.

The event, called Trust, Verification, Fact Checking & Beyond: MisinfoCon, is a “global movement focused on building solutions to online trust, verification, fact checking, and reader experience in the interest of addressing misinformation in all of its forms.”  They found that, as a heightened focus is put on the critical need to establish credible content, so is the need for how this credibility is communicated on digital content. And the answer that came up time and time again was credibility standards.

“Simply rating an article as “credible” is not enough; we need to understand what parts of it are credible, how the conclusion about its credibility was reached, and how to communicate that credibility effectively.Defining a set of standards for content credibility gives us a more effective way to talk about it, and, importantly, to make important decisions about how we share and display that content, regardless of what site the content appears on.”

As more and information is posted online, having both core and peripheral standards to determine credibility could certainly be a huge benefit to all involved. In fact, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the web and OpenStand affirming partner, recently announced a standardization of annotation. That is the sort of work this could build upon.  

However, also of interest to open standards supports was the WAY recognition for this need arose. It was through a collaborative workspace where the processes were open to all interested and informed parties. A place where they “hacked, designed and ideated” in a transparent way and reached a broad consensus that the need for standards existed. The are making the process “transparent and open, to help build trust about our decision making and make it open to public comment.”

This is how the best possible credibility standards can be created- making the web a better, more credibly informed space.  

If this is something you are interested in participating in, reach out to MisInfoCon here.  

Do you think standards are needed to slow, or even stop, the dissemination of misinformation on the web? Are they necessary? What should be the core standards?  Leave us your comments below!

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How to Modernize the Smartphone Network with Open Standards

Posted on July 19th, 2017


According to online publisher TechCrunch, by 2020, globally there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users, led by huge growth in less mature markets. That works out to approximately 70 percent of the world’s population using these devices. In addition, research giant Ericsson predicts that “regions like Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa will account for 80 percent of all new subscriptions” by 2020.

As the need for access and communication across the globe grows, smartphones will only continue to grow in popularity. They are often the user’s primary lifeline to the Internet, and that doesn’t just mean while away from home. A growing share of smartphone users are now using their devices as their primary means of online access while at home.

So, with the growth of smartphone usage and the clear benefits of open standards, why have only 11 percent of Federal Agencies embraced an open networking approach?

That question is at the heart of a recent video from Brocade Communications Systems. The battle for proprietary versus open standards in the era of smartphones has long been debated and documented. However, this video offers the opinion that open standards help to drive down costs and amp up innovation which will serve to benefit and give choices to the millions of people using smartphones every day. Oftentimes, many agencies incorrectly believe that proprietary standards mean a more secure network. However, the opposite is true. As our Principles of Open Standards show, innovation and collaboration within the framework of open standards allows for better global interoperability, scalability, stability, and resiliency as well as enabling global competition and continuously encouraging providers to provide the best security possible.

Mobile devices are creating an opportunity for dynamic Internet resources to become available to greater and greater numbers of people. Because of that, keeping the Internet safe, stable, open and interoperable is of greater importance than ever. Open standards that align to our Principles will continue to play a critical role in creating an open internet and driving open innovation, serving as the building blocks for future development of the expansive Internet community.   

Where do you land on the proprietary versus open standard argument for smartphones? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

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Recent Merger Helps Counter Open Source Proprietary Solutions

Posted on July 12th, 2017


Recently, vendors have been utilizing open source platforms to develop closed proprietary solutions. In a move to counter this activity, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) unveiled the Open Innovation Pipeline (OIP). The OIP was created within the merger arrangement between ONF and the Open Networking Lab.

According to the announcement from the organizations, the OIP will “tap into network virtualization work behind software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and cloud technologies, with those contributing work into the OIP being able to benefit from inclusion into ON.Lab’s Open Network Operating System project and central office re-architected as a data center platform, and vendors gaining access to operator deployments.”

Using these open platforms to create closed solutions provides little, if any, advantage to the broader Internet environment. The ONF’s Open Innovation Pipeline will work against this trend by “offering greater returns to members who participate in the ONF’s collaborative process.”

According the to the announcement, the ONF also said it plans to promote interoperability with diverse components of the open source ecosystem by using a software defined standards approach to developing interoperability application program interfaces and data models.

“It is very important to us that all the pieces of this new ecosystem can play well together and we see this expanded focus as central to enabling the crafting of solutions from the disaggregated components now taking shape across the industry,” explained Timon Sloane, VP of Standards and Membership at ONF.

The aforementioned merger of ONF and the Open Networking Lab has been in the works for a while, officially announced in October of 2016. The new combined entity will exist under the current ONF name. It will be headed by by Guru Parulkar, ON.Lab founder and Executive Director. The merger will likely not be fully complete until later in 2017, and each entity will remain focused on focused on SDN and open source platforms until completed.

While collaboration and cooperation is at the root of our Modern Paradigm for Standards, allowing open platforms to be used to create proprietary solutions or standards does not provide the necessary collaboration and openness that open standards thrive upon. Standards specifications must made accessible to all for implementation and deployment. Industries moves like this one are a step in the right direction.

What do you think about both the merger and collaborative initiative? Do you think it serves to effectively combat the issue at hand? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Smart Home Window is Open for Open Standards, but for How Long?

Posted on July 4th, 2017


There has been much talk and speculation around the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) for some time now. In fact, over a year ago, OpenStand highlighted an industry white paper that projected that the Internet of Things (IoT) will bring billions of new devices to the Internet inside of ten years. We’ve been seeing a rapid increase in IoT devices from smart cars to smart cities, and the use of IoT in healthcare.

One area in particular is the growth of IoT enabled homes, also called “smart homes” or  “connected homes.” Connected homes are a major market opportunity as consumers further recognize its benefits — such as increased security and controlling energy costs. It is also tempting for many to have a home that will learn to change and alter the home environment based on the owner’s preferences.

However, as we discussed in this blog before, interoperability among the IoT devices within the home are crucial to the success of the smart home. In a recent IoT Business News article, there was a focus on the opportunity communications service providers (CSPs) have to lead the smart home marketplace. Only with adopting open standards can “risks be minimized and CSPs start to build their presence in people’s front rooms as the central control system for the connected home. There will only be a handful of standards that make it and the front-runners are already becoming clear. So CSPs should bet strategic and think long term, but not be too cautious if they are to strike while the iron’s hot.”

Regardless of who wins the race to own the smart home market, the need for open standards is front and center. The multiple IoT devices of a connected home must be able to work together seamlessly and without any unnecessary security risks. The article encourages CSPs to open their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to third parties and “form ecosystem relationships with other service providers, symbiotic relationships can develop that will enable ‘services within a service’ to be offered; for example, a virtual assistant that can order your favorite pizza simply by hearing a voice command; a call out to your regular local plumber in the case of water leaks in the home, or a mapping app that offers taxi booking services through their platform.”

Using open standards that follow the Modern Paradigm for Standards  can help ensure the development of the highest quality, market-driven standards by the largest possible audience. And when it comes to our homes, that’s exactly what we want.  

If you agree with the principles of openness, transparency, accessibility, and market-driven standards adoption, we hope you’ll consider becoming an OpenStand Advocate. You can help spread the word by displaying a site badge or infographic on your website.

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Language and Definitions are Key to Setting Open Standards for Cybersecurity

Posted on June 28th, 2017


The fundamental root of understanding and relating to each other is reliable communication. Since the beginning of time, humankind has worked towards a fixed and agreed upon way to share and exchange information. Even so, we’ve all been on the receiving end of miscommunication. It can be as complex as speaking completely different languages to something as simple as misusing a common term of phrase or even using an inside joke with an unfamiliar audience. Regardless of the level, miscommunication can be extremely frustrating and certainly impede progress.

Recently, an article from the online publication Dark Reading discussed the critical need for a more fully engaged cross-industry dialog within the context of cybersecurity in order to truly overcome cyber security risks. The article states, “to successfully fight threats across industries, we must all use the same terminology.”  To us, that means there also is a fundamental need for an increase in standardization across the industry, beginning with the basics of language and definitions.

By creating a consistent framework that begins with language, those working within that framework will be able to work more efficiently. In another recent blog post on Andrew L. Russell’s book Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks, we discussed how, by making everyone follow the same rules, it opens up more opportunity for innovation. By standardizing terms and the basic ways we define things, we begin to “speak the same language” and can move forward faster, innovating within the common vernacular framework.

Similar to cybersecurity, where there are ‘at least 16 different definitions of the term “cyber attack” globally’, the internet at large has a massive number of different terms and definitions for the same concepts. Miscommunication can often lead to mistrust and an overall breakdown in progress. “Without a common language in cybersecurity, we can’t achieve intelligent information-sharing both within a single organization or between the complex web of vendors and solutions in today’s market. Lack of defined key terms is blocking the industry from effectively implementing anything beyond passive defensive mechanisms.” The same can be said outside of cybersecurity and across the board, reinstating the need for unified standards.  

The OpenStand principles work by understanding and respecting the “autonomy, integrity, processes, and intellectual property rules of the others.” However, before that respect can be realized, there must be a common understanding when it comes to terms and definitions – a standardization of that area.  

What are your thoughts on the overarching need for more standardization in the industry, starting with language and definitions? Leave them in the comments below!

If you’re interested in learning more about OpenStand, check out our OpenStand infographics.

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