What Are "Open" Standards?
The standards that apply to the IT industry have been both a problem and its solution. After fifty years of IT evolution, we're finally reaching the conclusion that it's in everyone's best interest to have standards that provide good communication and compatibility among vendors, suppliers, and users. An open standard is a published standard that is possessed by no one and used by all. For example, the HTML software language is an open standard; the World Wide Web Consortium manages it and they see to its dissemination and evolution, asking for participation and input from all concerned. But they don't own it. No one does. Anyone can inspect, criticize, or suggest enhancements to an open standard, and any changes must be made by consensus.
Open standards address long-term, strategic business/industry issues, not simply the short-term, tactical or technical objectives of a single segment or company within the industry. Successful open standards expand the opportunities for the entire industry while providing users with long-term stability for technology. Such standards also provide a sound foundation on which users can base strategic business decisions.
We still have some way to go before reaching universal acceptance of open standards. Despite the unqualified benefits of open standards, many software vendors and corporations are reluctant to embrace this new approach.