Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Thoughts on Industry Standards Bodies

Enterprisey folks love ceremonial practices that make everyone feel good but don't really contribute value nor provide any measurable return on investment. Figured I would comment on several industry standards bodies and why we should consider in some situations doing the exact opposite of their recommendation...

Ever heard of the Object Management Group? Ever look at their membership list? Did you notice that there isn't a single Fortune 100 enterprise (non-software) on the list? Do you think they may miss important customer requirements in their discussions if customers aren't participating in them?

It's gets even more interesting with Project Liberty. At least they have a few token Fortune enterprises but are still dominated by vendors pushing specifications where they can create products around them. Do you think the members will figure out how to create interoperability standards and practices around Active Directory Federation services? I think not. Do they care about customers or the ability to create products to sell to customers?

Then there are industry vertical standards bodies who are notoriously guilty of creating specifications for items in which standards already exist. Anyone can go around the table and solicit feedback and acknowledge that collaboration is a good thing but it takes real ability to get it right not only the first time around but to do so in a sustainable manner. Have you ever asked yourself what types of titles these folks that participate on industry vertical standards bodies have? Sure, the answer is that they are VPs and directors but that isn't the question you really should be asking. The real question is how many of the participants actually have software engineering backgrounds?

Maybe if industry vertical standards bodies don't respect software engineering disciplines then maybe there is an opportunity for me to practice open heart surgery on them by simply running to the bookstore the night before and picking of a copy of the book: Heart Surgery for Dummies.

I wonder what would need to occur for standards bodies to move away from XML? We all know that the wonderful garbage they created isn't being widely used because it is highly problematic to do so. Their first mistake was in hoping that XML schema would solve their interoperability problems. They went buckwild defining schemas and canonical form for all of their industry vertical data elements in a way that was all about the standard yet never figured out how folks could dynamically consume it.

Maybe if they actually studied some of the more popular XML formats they may learn a thing or two. What would happen if they payed attention to RSS? After all, it is simply the most popular XML format flying around the Internet today. Ever noticed that RSS isn't RSS but contains multiple formats? Did you ever noticed that validation doesn't occur via schema? Hopefully you are still following me.

What would happen if industry vertical standards bodies instead embraced the notion of Microformats? We understand that this would put a damper on all the SOA kool-aid they've been drinking lately. Hell, it would even cut down on the sale of my book. Why aren't they considering simply sticking to defining microformats that help enterprises get on the web 2.0 bandwagon.

Maybe they need to be briefed on what web 2.0 is? Maybe I am just the right person to do so...

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