Skip to main content

Interoperability – The Second Front Opens

Often tired and frequently oversold, the struggle between the software industry’s giants, otherwise known as the Open Source /Linux debate, has, over the summer, opened a second front, interoperability, injecting more life into an argument of increasingly strategic importance.

For a while now, the case in favour and against the introduction of Open Source / Linux solutions, has surrounded fundamental questions of reliability, security and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

A search for the ‘silver bullet’ argument in the analyst reports on any one of the vendor websites remains elusive and what one finds mostly surrounds the question of why one side’s TCO benefit is greater than another’s. After all, TCO and ROI (return on investment) are less factors of the underlying Operating System than the applications and services that support the Server platforms. Furthermore, it’s argued that TCO doesn’t examine the underlying flexibility of a technology and with it, any potential savings that accompany its implementation.

If the security and TCO argument isn’t conclusive or appears to be moving in a new direction, then we have to start looking elsewhere if we’re going to have a better opportunity to “get the facts” or just as importantly, judge how apparently opposing technologies can cost-effectively and productively co-exist if and when peace finally breaks out.

With the three main argument of the OS/Linux offensive bogged-down in the detail, where do we go next for some decisive action? In my view it’s toward the promise of interoperability and being clear about the true cost of acquisition; more importantly, understanding why these are important questions which shouldn’t be neglected as a strategic consideration in the broader technology decision-making process.

With all of us now living in the same moment in an increasingly connected age, interoperability is simply ability of different IT networks, applications, or components to exchange and use information, i.e., to “talk” to each other. This goal can be achieved through the development of software that is “interoperable by design” (e.g., inclusion of XML technology in software to facilitate the easy exchange of data across different applications), by licensing / cross licensing of proprietary technologies and essential intellectual property, through collaboration with partners, competitors, customers and through the  implementation of industry standards (including open standards and broadly accessible proprietary standards) in products and services.

Whether you happen to be Microsoft or even IBM or Novell, this makes sense, as you may have read in an earlier Silicon story which mentioned the interoperability benefits of JBoss working with Windows. After all, in a future which operates from behind a cloud of Web and software services, a liberal ‘multicultural’ approach to software interoperability offers considerable benefits to all the players involved.

Where it all may go badly wrong however, is when the interoperability that business and the public sector desires. is ‘cobbled-together’ or poorly engineered, because one solution or licensing model is mandated to the exclusion of another which may offer much greater flexibility and lower costs over time.

This is the main substance of the ‘second front’ argument which is likely to occupy a great deal of editorial space over the next twelve months. Has business and in particular, the public sector started along a path, which though recognising the benefits of interoperability, pays only lip-service to the sibling value of flexibility through the promotion of one technology over another. Selecting a narrow, ‘single-source’ route  for the delivery of  interoperable products?

A catalogue of high-profile public sector project failures over the last twelve months may encourage everyone involved in planning large IT projects to think more pragmatically on how software and services can cooperate and be truly interoperable in a Rubik’s cube world of emerging complexity. In looking to a future that argues for greater co-existence between both Microsoft and Open Source/Linux as facts of life, we might be better advised to explore the intrinsic flexibility and value for-money faces of different solutions. The alternative is to continue along a narrow path which increasingly specifies ‘Open solutions’ that in principal, deliver the opposite of what “Open” and interoperable should mean in the first place, through  simply imposing one set of arguments or (proprietary/open) standards and technologies over another.

Or to quote Winston Churchill: “If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.



I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

A Matter of Drones - Simon Moores for The Guardian

I have a drone on my airfield” – a statement that welcomes passengers to the latest dimension in air-travel disruption. Words of despair from the chief operating officer of Gatwick airport in the busiest travel week of the year. Elsewhere, many thousands of stranded and inconvenienced passengers turned in frustration to social media in an expression of crowd-sourced outrage.

How could this happen? Why is it still happening over 12 hours after Gatwick’s runways were closed to aircraft, why is an intruder drone – or even two of them – suspended in the bright blue sky above the airport, apparently visible to security staff and police who remain quite unable to locate its source of radio control?

Meanwhile, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, overtaken by both the technology and events, is reduced to sending out desperate tweets warning that an airport incursion is a criminal offence and that drone users should follow their new code of conduct. Yet this is not an unforeseen event. It was i…

Merlins over Thanet

Marooned, temporarily at Manston this afternoon are the Merlins over Malta team on the way to the Mediterranean for a display to mark the historic Second World War defence of the island.


Charlie Brown

Unfortunately, the weather over Thanet is appalling this afternoon and the Spitfire and Hurricane can’t get airborne again until it clears, so the celebrity Battle of Britain aircraft pilots, Charlie Brown, Clive Denny and their team-mates are contemplating an evening among the fleshpots of Margate.


Clive Denny (Hurricane) & Charlie Brown (Spitfire) Pilots

I’m rather hoping the weather it will clear through though as they have to get to Jersey before dusk if possible and I have to take some photos of the Spitfire and Hurricane for Pilot Magazine and I’ve always wanted a chance to get in either aircraft!

An Interview with Charlie Brown

They just got off, squadron scramble or what? They were ready and gone in ten minutes towards the nearest patch of blue sky!

An interview with the legendary S…