Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Certified Open – new initiative to reduce vendor lock-in

One of the key issues in W2L migration in organizations is how to deal with the current vendor lock-in. This is especially important when making decisions about new investments in the server room and business applications. If a decision leads to an increase in vendor lock-in (meaning: you are stuck to a specific vendor in more ways than you imagined) this reduces the flexibility of your organizations to tailor the ICT environment to your own needs.

OpenForum Europe and the Free Software Foundation Europe have founded Certified Open. This new organization aims to provide tools with which organizations can evaluate their technical and commercial lock-in. In their lingo:

Certified Open® is designed to evaluate technical and commercial lock-in. It promotes fair competition and increases the ability of suppliers to compete effectively in the provision of software, hardware and services.The Certified Open Products & Services Framework is an industry-agreed, highly granular framework that defines the characteristics of products and services.

You can’t find fault with the intentions of Certified Open. For instance:

Certified Open® programme enables SMEs to:
Ensure that purchasing decisions take open standards and the potential for lock-in into account when purchasing decisions are made.
Ensure that managers can manage the skills of their staff and provide a lifelong learning environment as the basis for professionalism.
Allows effective choice of partners when outsourcing support, integration or services.
Maximise speed and implementation of new innovation into the business.
Benefit from lower cost alternatives.

The program is open for trial until the end of January 2008. I will definitely give it a try in the coming period.

The first impressions are pretty good. One wouldn’t automatically associate the Free Software Foundation with business, but the two founding partners have created something that has a business-like appeal. It uses arguments that can be recognized by non-free and open source evangelists. Certified Open has various stakeholders in mind:

The Certified Open programme in general, and the Certification Framework in particular, represent strong value propositions for each of the key stakeholders:
Public Authorities – readily available accepted criteria against which to assess the openness of products and services.
Procurement – the ability to specify and objectively assess the openness of products and services.
Hiring Managers – the ability to assess products and services developed by would be job applicants.
External Service Providers – differentiation based on the degree of openness achieved by the product or service; in addition, a tool to guide developments by accredited partners.
Free Software/Open Source Product Providers – greater visibility for quantified advantages of services and products offered.
Enterprise Computing – the greatest possible level of granularity for ensuring openness of products and services in order to avoid supplier lock-in.

Lofty goals and ones that deserves our support.

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