Don't Europeanize Enterprise Software


Andy Updegrove is an attorney with a practice representing various IT companies, standards efforts and standards consortia, according to his Web site. He is part of a group of vehement advocates for a European Union (EU) IT policy determined to impose so-called open standards, open interfaces, open this and open that on the IT world. Of course, most of you in the IT world really want nothing but open choice.


There is no clearer sign of Atty. Updegrove's ideological bent than his recent post that started by talking about President Obama's promises relative to open government in the U.S., but was posted up on his Web site with the EU flag. That's because he proceeds in the blog post to advocate (apparently to the Obama administration) the misguided statist EU view of the enterprise software market. That's the view that the government, manipulated by a few large IT suppliers, should decide what's best for you. Remember that this is the same EU that only recently rescinded a rule that had the government deciding what shape fruits and vegetables Europeans could buy. Most IT users, as judged by how they vote with their pocket books, abandoned such ideas long ago and believe enterprise software has no nationality.


Americans buy "French and German software," such as from the former Business Objects and its new parent SAP, and Europeans buy "American software" such as from Microsoft and Oracle. Of course SAP and Business Objects have American research labs and Microsoft and Oracle employ thousands of European developers. The software has not nationality and its success in the marketplace is not dependent on any "buy EU" edict or on any pre-ordained standards status.


Atty. Updegrove calls the EU approach a:

"substantial advance in the examination and determination of what should constitutes openness in government ICT (information and communications technology) standards from both an aspirational as well as a pragmatic perspective."

Hogwash. The EU approach is just a process of interfering in IT markets to tilt the playing field in favor of home-team enterprise (and consumer) software suppliers. And it's been going on for 40 years (see Plan Calcul), not the 10 years that Atty. Updegrove implies.


But his April 8 post includes one thought with which I agree. Perhaps it was a throwaway line but he says:

"Traditionally, openness related discussions leading to the adoption of IPR (intellectual property rights) policies have been "bottom down" in nature, in that those that develop standards have decided what they are, and are not, willing to do. In other words, the opinion of the customer has been largely missing from the equation, because they are usually underrepresented, when they are represented at all, in the standards development process. This, because although customers are welcome at the standards development table, few have taken up the invitation."

This is the thrust of a series of posts and articles on standards available here on the blog and in the archives of IT Business Edge feature articles. Again my opinion is based on open choice. Get involved if you can and if you want to. Or don't.


The choice is yours. Many of you are happy letting the suppliers battle it out in the marketplace rather than getting involved in standards groups. And that's a good choice, too. That way you choose from among winners that have proven themselves with your peers rather than from among companies annointed in attorneys' conference rooms. That's open choice.