What could have been perceived as a marketing ploy has turned into a serious grass-roots movement thanks to heavyweight sponsorship from IBM and support from more than 2,500 open source developers.
The Open Group of San Francisco, a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium that offers certification services and conformance testing, recently established an online document called the "IT Declaration of Independence." The declaration promotes the free flow of information, and will be part of the organization's effort to promote and defend open source against threats from proprietary architecture.
As of Monday, 2,517 developers had signed the declaration which calls for independence from proprietary and legacy software with the ultimate aim of IT infrastructure being based on open standards.
"Lots of people [subscribe] to the ideals of open standards, and this is an ideal way of putting a name badge on your chest and saying you'll do the right things," said Open Group vice president of marketing Graham Bird.
The declaration, which could have been seen by critics as a marketing tactic, was immediately given some clout by a pledge of support from IBM, which made a similar public call for open standards in Grapevine, Texas during the IBM Rational Software Developers Conference.
"The inherent assumption that open standards need to be competitive with the standards that are out there … people are not just going to chose them because they are open," Bird said.
Bird said that open standards and the declaration will take off because they allows people to get information when they need it, in the form they need it and with full system interoperability.
"The only way you can do that without reinventing is to use open standards," Bird said.
Even with all of the attention the Open Group's declaration has received, Bird is cautiously optimistic as the number of signatures rises each day.
"These things take time ... we are delighted IBM stepped up and sponsored us, it's great to get their support, they are one of our major sponsors, and we would love to see other organizations join in," he said.
Other organizations are joining in the open standards cause. Bird said that during an IPv6 open discussion at the Grid Enterprise Services Forum, the U.S. Army talked very openly about migrating to open standards.