Open Standards vs. Proprietary: Are Open Standards Really the Wave of the Future for IoT?

Posted on December 14th, 2016

open-standards-vs-proprietary-openstandImage: Tashatuvango

In a recent IoT Business News article Allan Woolhouse presents a strong case for open connectivity standards for IoT, starting with a no-nonsense look at the practical drivers that define the strength of an IoT Connectivity Standard, including:

  • Capacity
  • Quality of service
  • Range
  • Reliability
  • Battery life
  • Security
  • Interoperability
  • Cost
  • Proprietary vs. standard

Woolhouse, Chair of the Weightless SIG Marketing Working Group, turns attention to the issue of proprietary technologies versus open standards, pointing out the fundamentally different business proposition open standards offer for technology developers.  He points out the clear benefits open standards drive, including quality, interoperability, streamlined development and the ability for robust, multiple, peer-reviewed design teams to lead innovations at a fraction of the cost of alternatives.  Woodhouse argues that in the world of wireless communications “there are no successful proprietary standards”, asserting that “open standards always win out.”

The article underscores the inclusive nature of open standards, highlighting the role open standards play in driving more efficient development, tightening operations and reducing costs for both producer and end-consumer.  He points out that open standards also allow for peer-reviewed design teams that range in industries, which not only lead to greater innovation, but improve upon existing technologies to make them more robust and reliable, at a fraction of the cost of the alternatives. He also argues that with regard to telecommunications, on the “two-ends” of the wireless link (transmitter or base station, and receiver or device) “Open standards allow a vibrant ecosystem of suppliers for both sides of the link, enabling each party to choose their preferred supplier.  He continues, “Standard encourage competition which results in innovative products at lower prices. By enabling a range of companies, it reduces the risk of obsolescence due to a company deciding to no longer support a product.”

Woolhouse points to weightless technology as an example of technology that has been designed from a “clean slate” offering optimized performance at an “unbeatable price point” that avoids any legacy or backward compatibility issues. The article also provides an overview of the benefits the Weightless standards offers for LPWAN technology developers.

In conclusion, the article emphasizes the importance of “just one standard” bound by quality development practices, support across Industry from suppliers across the value chain in a manner that creates a  “virtuous spiral” for all participants. Woolhouse concludes that we do not yet have the right standardization in place to support the success of the IoT, due to fragmented support from the industry, a lack of clear standards and little clear marketing to consumers related to IoT brands.  

The reference “virtuous spiral”resonates with the OpenStand Principles, which were jointly affirmed by IEEE, W3C, ISOC, IETF and IAB in 2012, and based on the development principles that brought us the free and open internet. The OpenStand Principles encourage the development of standards and technologies with broad participation across the value chain, in a manner that are open, transparent, market-driven, accessible and voluntarily adopted by the marketplace.  

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Open Standards and Collaborative Security Focus on Resiliency and Governance

Posted on December 7th, 2016



Olaf Kolkman, open standards advocate and CTO of the Internet Society (ISOC) (an affirming partner of the OpenStand Principles) has long been focused on the need for collaborative security.

This last summer, Kolkman gave the keynote address for the 27th Annual FIRST Conference on the topic of: “Collaborative Security – Reflections about Security and the Open Internet.”

Kolkman addressed how security policies are often premised at “stopping bad things and not on what the properties are that need protected.” When thinking about Internet security, contributors also need an “external perspective in order to trade off their actions towards the bigger internet.” This is called Collaborative Security.

Within a collaborative security framework, contributors must “reflect on resiliency, about outward facing security, governance, and give some examples of collaborative security and the difficulty of them getting traction,” said Kolkman.

During his talk, Kolkman discussed how an “open Internet is a powerful driver for social, technical, and economic interaction. Its success is based on invariants like openness and permissionless innovation – properties that not only create opportunities but also contribute an increased threat surface to the Internet.”

Kolkman’s talk also focused on the Internet Society’s April 2015 report on Collaborative Security in which describes their approach for tackling Internet security issues. In this report, Collaborative Security is characterized by five key elements:

  • Fostering confidence and protecting opportunities: The objective of security is to foster confidence in the Internet and to ensure the continued success of the Internet as a driver for economic and social innovation.
  • Collective Responsibility: Internet participants share a responsibility towards the system as a whole.
  • Fundamental Properties and Values: Security solutions should be compatible with fundamental human rights and preserve the fundamental properties of the Internet — the Internet Invariants.
  • Evolution and Consensus: Effective security relies on agile evolutionary steps based on the expertise of a broad set of stakeholders.
  • Think Globally, Act Locally: It is through voluntary bottom-up self-organization that the most impactful solutions are likely to reached.

To view the video of Kolkman’s talk or review his slides, click here.

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Recap of the IETF Meeting in Berlin

Posted on November 30th, 2016

ietf-openstandImage: Toria

A Recap of IETF 96

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meeting, hosted in July 2016, concluded with a wealth of discussion and activity aimed at furthering the goal of improving Internet efficiency by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use and manage the Internet.

Attendance at IETF 96 was unprecedented, including more than 1462 participants from 62 countries (more countries than ever before) including 316 first time attendees. During the meeting 12 new working group proposals were proposed, and it is estimated that over half of these groups will be approved as formal working groups. This year’s meeting also saw fair share of highlights, including the launch of a new and unique mentoring program and the annual Hackathon, which are highlighted with other details below.  You can watch the full recap of IETF 96 here:

Mentoring Program:

“This meeting was also the first for our new mentoring system. Volunteers from the IETF attendees had set up 50 mentors helping new people find their way in the IETF, for instance to establish contacts with other people. For me, an important part of the meeting is the ability to interact with other people building devices in the Internet. Specifications aside, these interactions are a crucial part of setting up new, interoperable technology to the Internet,” said Jari Arkko, IETF Chair.


The annual IETF Hackathon encourages developers to collaborate and develop utilities, ideas, sample code and solutions that show practical implementations of IETF standards. This year, IETF 96 was kicked off with the Hackathon. “There is growing engagement between the Open Source communities and the IETF. The IETF Hackathon had more participants than ever and we experimented with having a place for it in the IETF Lounge all week.”

Additional highlights included work proposals related to the Internet of Things (IoT), home networking and multimedia communications from browsers. One particularly interesting work proposal was called Advanced Queue Management (AQM). The AQM work proposal is an “effort attempting to make sure that bad router buffering practices do not waste capacity. This group has a real chance of improving how responsive the Internet feels to individual users, even without increasing their broadband connection speed.”

In all, IETF hosted yet another successful meeting full of engineers talking to each other, implementers sharing experiences, operators explaining their needs, and many other useful conversations designed to progress and betterment of the Internet. If you’re interested, you can read more about additional meeting highlights and proceedings.

The IETF an affirming partner of the OpenStand Principles.  You can show your support for open standards in these three ways:

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Forbes Council Discusses the Differences Between Open vs Closed Standards

Posted on November 9th, 2016

forbes-council-discusses-the-differences-between-open-vs-closed-standards-openstandImage: Rawpixel

A recent article in Forbes magazine asked nine technology and members of Forbes Technology Council their thoughts on regarding the issue of open versus proprietary standards in developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT). In various posts on this blog, we have highlighted the differences between technical specifications and standards, and have encouraged IoT development community to embrace the OpenStand principles. Here are a few examples: W3C and the McKinsey Report.

The experts from the Forbes council had varying opinions on the use of open vs. proprietary standards for IoT:

Sagi Brodi of Webair said, “Companies will adopt open standards to ease interoperability and get to market faster,” further acknowledging that there is room for both in the marketplace and that it will be a matter of natural selection.

Bishnu Nayak of FixStream Inc., took a similar stance, asserting hybrid solution will win in the end. Both open standard and proprietary technologies have benefits it just will come down to distilling those benefits and finding a solution combining both.

Ashley Saddul of agreed with Nayak’s hybrid solution, arguing that while the IoT is still early in its development, companies see the potential and will look to secure market advantages. Saddul asserts that we will eventually end up with a premium commercial standard with a less sophisticated open-source alternative.

Marko Lehtimaki from AppGyver provided a different view, that both proprietary and open standards can succeed. “There will likely be a handful of platforms and protocols which IOT devices need to support. Open standards will spark more innovation, but proprietary technology might provide a better user experience.”

Nicholas Thompson of Grit, pointed out that open standards historically facilitate the level of interoperability, which allows for hardware and software components to work more seamlessly.  Thus, he argues, open standards normally win out.

The exception to this rule could be related to proprietary standards.

Gurpreet Singh of TalkLocal, advocates for “strength in exclusivity.” Singh asserts that the level of customer loyalty and brand power will allow powerhouses like Apple to develop their own standards, which will co-exist with open standards. Because of this dynamic, Singh asserts that Apple will pull ahead because of higher quality control and marketing dollars.

Where you do fall on this debate? Let us know in the comments below!

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We Can’t Build the IoT Without Open Standards

Posted on November 2nd, 2016

openstandImage: Rupert Ganzer

In previous posts, we’ve discussed at length the need for open standards as a development framework for the Internet of Things (IoT) – and we’re not the only source to repeat this call.

“It’s time to say it loud and clear: we won’t build the Internet of Things without open standards.”

A recent article in Radar titled Toward an open Internet of Things outlines the critical need to develop the IoT with open standards. Innovation and collaboration, as outlined in our Principles, is critical to the success of the internet and IoT. Proprietary standards that don’t foster interoperability and data sharing will not fulfill the promise of the IoT. Yet, our current market perpetuates the impulse to lock down IP for competitive gain and profit. In the long-term, it won’t drive a win for the IoT or the people it serves.  As Radar said it:

“With the Internet of Things, it’s deja vu all over again. The vendors who provide public APIs and support open standards will succeed in the long run. Likewise, the vendors who try to trap consumers behind proprietary software and non-interoperable products will eventually fail, to everyone’s detriment. If you win the IoT, you lose it.”

Like what you read? You might enjoy our post, “The Expanding Internet of Things Presents Big Security Challenges for Tech Industry.”

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World Standards Day 2016 Theme is “Standards Build Trust”

Posted on October 26th, 2016


World Standards Day, held on October 14th each year, honors the collaborative efforts of the global network of experts working to develop voluntary technical agreements published as international standards. These experts belong to Open Stand Partner organizations such as Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and  International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The theme of this year’s World Standards Day was “Standards Build Trust,” a reflection of the trust and assurance given to users by ensuring interoperability of devices. Users and providers, because of this assurance, have an expectation for certain technology created by a level playing field.

According to Mary Lynne Nielsen global operations and outreach program director for IEEE Standards Association (an OpenStand Affirming Partner) “Standards connect us with reliable modes of communication, codes of practice and trusted frameworks for cooperation. Introducing common interpretations on reciprocal sides of a communication or transaction, standards are essential to mutually beneficial trade and resource efficient international commerce.”

This may sound familiar to those who understand and embrace the OpenStand Principles.

International standards arrange the fundamental set of norms, concepts or meanings, meaning access to all interested and informed parties. This year’s World Standards Day highlighted the quality and safety international standards bring, while celebrating the diversity of the “interconnected world, introducing uniformity at the interfaces where we need to be certain that we are speaking on the same terms.”

World Standards Day was launched in 1970 with an aim to “raise awareness among regulators, industry and consumers as to the importance of standardization to the global economy.” The U.S. celebration consisted of a reception and gala dinner at the Fairmont Washington in Washington, D.C.

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

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Upcoming Workshop: Web and Virtual Reality October 19-20 in CA

Posted on October 13th, 2016

virtual-reality-openstandImage: Matej Kastelic

Later this month, W3C is hosting a one-of-a-kind event to examine the intersection of Web and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies. The Web & Virtual Reality Workshop, held October 19-20 in Mountain View, CA, will bring together practitioners of both technologies, allowing an opportunity for discussion and sharing of experiences to improve the Open Web Platform as a delivery system for virtual reality experiences.  

The workshop is designed for participants to:

  • Share experiences in VR and related fields.
  • Discuss existing gaps in the web platform to solve for VR use cases that are difficult or impossible in browsers today.
  • Identify potential future standards and establish timelines to enable the Web to be one of the major, and most successful, VR platforms.

This event will be more than just listening to talks and presentations. It is designed for active participation and working discussions covering a wide variety of topics. An overview of preliminary topics is available here.

Discussion around VR, its uses and viable platforms is becoming more important as advancements in the technology continue. Using the web as a VR platform allows a preexisting environment for the “creation, distribution, and experiencing of VR content, applications, and services.In leveraging the Open Web Platform, we hope to provide an interoperability to avoid fragmentation and duplicated effort.”

But this doesn’t just benefit VR. The web platform itself can benefit through “new possibilities offered by ubiquitous VR from improved 3D graphics and media capabilities to tight integration with immersive sensors, and on to new ways of discovering and interacting with content and services.”

All of this, and more, will be covered through workshop discussions.

The W3C is valued partner in supporting Open-Stand Principles. Show your support in these three ways:

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IETF 96 Berlin: New Activities Announced

Posted on October 12th, 2016

ietf-96-berlin-openstandImage: Mapics

Earlier this year, OpenStand Principles affirming partner, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) hosted IETF 96 in Berlin, Germany. More than a thousand engineers attended the meeting, spending a week reviewing the latest issues and areas of interest in Internet protocol engineering. As part of this meeting, the IETF offers the opportunity for new development projects to be introduced.

New IETF activities may be initiated three ways: The charter of an existing working group can be extended, a new working group can be formed to directly address a focused project, or if further discussion is needed to determine if the new work is necessary, a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) session can be held. BoF sessions are typically required to discuss goals and scope for any new activities.

At the IETF 96 meeting, many proposals were received. Prior to the meeting, the IETF met to discuss which proposals should proceed. While there were many interesting proposals for potential new work, the IETF settled on the following:

  • LEDGER: This is a proposed new protocol to define how connectors route and move digital assets between different payment networks and ledgers.
  • QUIC: This is a UDP-based transport protocol that provides multiplexed streams over an encrypted transport. The BoF was around a proposed working group to standardize a new transport protocol.
  • Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LP-WANs): This BoF discussed these areas of low-power and the problems that arise in LP-WANs. Specifically, how would IETF-based solutions benefit them?
  • Path Layer UDP Substrate (PLUS): The BoF discussing PLUS had a goal of enabling new protocols robust against packet and Internet flow modification compatible with existing middleboxes
  • Low Latency Low Loss Scalable (L4S) throughput: the L4S group worked on coordinating transport mechanisms for both low latency and low loss, keeping it scalable and if IETF standards would be beneficial.
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS): this BoF focused on  Intelligent Transportation Systems, meaning the use of Internet communication protocols between vehicles.
  • Limited Use of Remote Keys (LURK):  this group looked at using a secure transport layer to provide access to a website that employs HTTPS without having to copy private keys associated with the site.
  • International Meeting Arrangements (IMTG): this BoF focused on IETF requirements for selecting future meeting sites.

Be sure to check out additional details on this BoFs, proposed research groups, other big topics, and in-process working groups and information on the proceedings from the meeting.

If you’re interested in learning more about OpenStand, check out our infographics. If you stand in support of open standards development, please, consider signing your name in support of our principals if you stand in support of open standards development.

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IAB endorses OpenStand Principles on NTIA IOT RFC 2016

Posted on September 28th, 2016

Image: Sergey Nivens

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB), via IAB Chair Andrew Sullivan, recently responded to a Request for Comment from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on “The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things.”

The IAB, an Affirming Partner of the OpenStand Principles, offered these comments in May of 2016. Their comments “focus on the architectural and other technical elements of the questions offered, particularly with respect to the openness, scalability, and security of the Internet as it continues to expand to include ‘the Internet of Things.’” Leading into the commentary, the IAB expressed the belief that the questions raised in the request for comment (RFC) must be reviewed within the framework of principles and considerations of Internet architecture.

In response to the NTIA RFC, the IAB submitted comment to six questions outlined in the RFC. Those questions and subsequent IAB responses can be found here. Perhaps most of interest to OpenStand readers is the response to Question 20. Here is the question and the IAB response in their entirety:

Question 20: What factors should the Department consider in its international engagement in: a) Standards and specification organizations? b) Bilateral and multilateral engagement? c) Industry alliances? d) Other?

Response: The IAB endorses the OpenStand Principles and believes that adhering to such principles for IoT standards is essential in promoting a free and open Internet worldwide, promoting trust and confidence online, and promoting innovation in the digital economy, all of which the IAB notes are pillars defined by the Digital Economy Leadership Team (DELT).

OpenStand has written many times about how the development of IoT should adhere to open standards, resulting in a recent panel discussion on that very topic which you can view here. Open standards will help to ensure that the internet, and the IoT, remain the premier platforms for innovation and borderless commerce and are extendable to other technologies. The principles stress voluntary adoption and empower the economies of global markets — fueled by technological innovation — to drive global standards deployment. To that end, insofar as the government is involved with the Internet, those governing bodies must be aware of the essential elements Internet architecture.

We welcome OpenStand supporters to share these principles by displaying a site badge or infographic on their websites.


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