[Talk] Open systems - who gives a *&^%?

Greg 'groggy' Lehey Greg.Lehey at auug.org.au
Fri Dec 6 10:38:23 EST 2002

On Thursday,  5 December 2002 at 14:15:41 -0500, BlakeAGoddard at aol.com wrote:
> Hi
> I've been lumbered with writing a report type thing for someone who
> wants to know if open systems are a universal cure all for the info
> integration problems of a business.

It's easy to answer such a categorical question: "No".  But obviously
he's asking the wrong question.

> I asked him what he meant by open systems and he said he didnt know
> and that was part of the problem. Magic.

He's not alone.  As I wrote in the last issue of AUUGN:

  Most notably, of course, there's ``Open Source''.  Or is that Open
  Systems?  Or Open Computing?  Or Open Standards?  Or just plain Free
  Software?  The Board has discussed the terminology at length and
  we're still far from agreeing.

I did some trawling round the web while thinking about these terms,
and I've come to the personal conclusion that the term "Open Systems"
has passed it's use-by date.  As I said, other members of the board
disagree.  We didn't use it in the title for next year's conference
("AUUG2003: Open Standards, Open Source, Open Computing").  On the
web, though, "Open Systems" tends to be applied to proprietary
software which adheres to open standards, for some definition of
"adheres".  Is that what you mean by it?

> Anyway, I've decided that all systems are open its just HOW open,
> and open ranges from developers only allowed in, to business people,
> to suppliers, to business partners, to customers, and ulimately to
> everyone allowed in (eg Internet). Theres loads of hype about open
> system enablers like XML and web services being just around the
> corner, but what do YOU think? Are the security and co-ordination
> issues just too much for anyone except the big boys who have been
> doing this sort of thing for years?

Presumably you're excluding Microsoft from the "big boys"?  Certainly
I think that free operating systems (there's a new term for you) can
hold their own in matters of security.  As for coordination, I don't
see that as the job of a software supplier; that's project management
and thus a whole different can of worms.

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