AFNOR CGTI/CN22/GE "POSIX" response to Action Item nb 9505-37 of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG15

It is often difficult for users to know who is doing what in the world of Open Systems. However, a better understanding by the IT community of the role of the actors, may help in promoting Open Systems and avoiding many common misunderstanding. This contribution is based on an AFUU publication (French Unix and Open Systems User Group): "Guide on Open System Actors".

The precise role of any organisation in open systems may evolve, some organisations may also carry several tasks. It is then difficult to draw a clear picture of the open system process based on the various organisations. An alternative approach is to identify the various tasks needed to achieve open systems and to position organisations among these tasks. While the organisations scopes may still evolve, such a picture may help them to promote their usefulness, and to show their place in the open system world.

An open system process is taking place. 3 main steps may be identified:

Creation of technologies which may be promoted as De facto standards (In this case, the owner of the technology keep the full control of the product), this is the first step toward Open Systems.

Publication of Publicly Available Specifications (PAS). It is then possible to implement several products with compatibility achieved at the interface level.

Achievement of a formal consensus, with publication of specifications as De Jure standards. This may be done by the development of a standard inside a formal standardisation body or by the formal adoption of an existing specification.

The fast evolution of IT technology lead to a constant stream of new technologies/specifications/standards. Any complex Information System contain elements at various degree of openness. Integration of open functional elements become more and more a strategic issue. This lead to two different focus to achieve open systems:

Development of Functional elements

and Integration of these elements (usually in profiles).

It is then possible to represent development tasks in the open system world as a matrix (definition of functional elements and integration of : technologies, PAS & De Jure Standards). Any organisation may carry one or several tasks. In Addition, several organisations may work in say, development of PAS, as the complexity of Information System lead to a wide range of expertise.

Figure -1- shows the map on which, each organisation may position themselves

Figure 1

figure -1- The Open System process

This map may be used to position an organisation. This organisation may be concentrated on one task (e.g Development of Publicly Available Specification for a Specific Functional Element such as windowing API and protocoles) or may work on several aspects (e.g definition of de Jure Standards for Individual Functional Elements and for profiles, integrating various standards). Figure -2- gives a representation for this 2 Kinds of position, without any reference to a specific organisation. This up to the organisations themselves to define their own position.

Figure 2

figure -2- Examples of various positions


This is a first attempt to position some of the majors actors in the open system world. It is recognised that each organisation should define its own role. However, this example may help to understand the general scheme and may serve as a base to clarify relationship between organisations. The position of an organisation may evolve when the scope is updated.

Only few organisations are represented in this example:

ISO: Approbation of de jure standards and integration of standards in SGFS

IEEE: development of specifications and of some profiles. While IEEE produces de jure US standards, its specifications are unofficial for the rest of the world until they are adopted by ISO.

X/Open: Integration of specification into the XPG and development of some specifications

OSF/OMG: provide Technologies and Specifications on some functional elements

Companies and Research Centers: Some of them provide technologies to other organisations. The use of open standards by companies to supply products is out of the scope of this picture. Only the position of some companies as technology providers to the community is shown here.

Figure 3

figure -3- First attempt to position some organisations

Important Note:

This example only represents the current understanding of the editor of this annex for the position of some organisations, at the time the contibution is drafted (september 95). Your feed-back on the understanding (or misunderstanding) of the editor woud be appreciated.