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Standardization for Interoperability

Need for standardization across the industry is imperative to support interoperability of software services, applications and systems. Interoperability has been defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE Standard Computer Dictionary as "the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged." The capability to understand and use the information being exchanged is crucial to support interoperability among differing services, applications and systems.

Throughout most all industries, the capability to exchange information among a large group of industry vendors, as well as the large variety of vendor's systems, services and applications can pose significant challenges. The solution involves the development and adherence to rules (standards) for interacting (interoperability) between all components involved.

Government organizations are also increasingly promoting standardization to support interoperability. The rationale for supporting standardization, in particular open standards, is technical, economic, and political. The technical rationale is to promote maximum interoperability to enable the universal and efficient exchange of information among technologies, regardless of manufacturer or geographical region. The economic rationale is to foster an environment of competition among products based on the standard and provide fertile ground for national entrepreneurship and innovation. The political rationale for standardization is to contribute to efficient and accountable government functions.

Security has also made interoperability more of a challenge. No longer can someone just plug in a new component to interact with other components in a system. Rather, the new component must be authenticated before use of information that would be exchanged with the new component. This requires enhanced security measures be incorporated to ensure the real identity of a wide-range of components (e.g., devices, services, applications, etc.) within an environment in order to support secure interoperability across the components.

There are a number of financial considerations as well when it comes to standardization and interoperability. Organizations, who have invested heavily in their current IT infrastructure, cannot simply throw away their technology investments. There must be a migration path to support increasing interoperability of new services, applications and systems within an existing IT environment. Technology vendors too, cannot readily adapt their existing solutions to be in compliance with new standards without incurring an additional financial burden due to new development, testing and updating of the particular solutions to support these standards.

Life-cycle cost savings are an important benefit to consider for transitioning to interoperability standardization. Decisions often have to be made which involve determining whether future savings are worth the initial cost increases. The following diagram depicts the basic relationships among cost and time for different technologies that may be in use.

Wind Farm

Interoperability and the use of standards can increase cost savings over the long term by providing life-cycle maintenance savings. In addition, further savings can be realized with the upgrading and replacement of components through simple "plug-in" techniques. Long-term cost savings should be considered when deciding on technologies/solutions that support interoperability.

As technology, industry and business evolve there is greater social, technical, and financial need for interoperability and the standardization that make interoperability a reality. SoftRoots has designed and developed to a wide-variety of technical standards. As we strive to promote the open standards approach, we will continue to incorporate standardization throughout all of our solutions to further enable our customers to realize the benefits of interoperability.