A large amount of rhetoric has been given to open systems in recent years. The terms "open" and "openness" regularly appear in vendor sales-pitches world-wide. Large government development contracts are now beginning to identify openness as a primary requirement. But how can one determine if a system is sufficiently open?
Countless definitions for "Open System" exist. Most refer to the adoption of public or consensus based standards, published interfaces and a modular system architecture. However, achieving these goals may still overlook the customer’s real reasons for desiring an open system. In fact, our research suggests it is possible to develop a proprietary, "closed" system yet still be able to qualify as "open" under many definitions of openness.
Customers have many reasons for wanting an open system: avoiding single vendor lock-in; forming part of an obsolescence strategy; increasing the potential to utilise commercially available technology; and support for organically developed capability are but a few commonly identified goals. Knowing what drives a customer to desire an open system is important. A system thought by the vendor to be "open" may miss the mark in the eyes of the customer if, for example, the system fails to align with a customer’s desired level of module granularity.
Innovation Science’s Openness Assessment process has been applied to large scale distributed computer systems in Australia, France, Germany, the UK and the USA. The process considers over 70 system, engineering, management and business attributes that research has shown to contribute to openness. The assessment can be applied as a generic assessment focusing on identifying how openness can be improved within a product; or a targeted assessment that is weighted to consider customer goals for procuring an open system.
Innovation Science Openness and Evolvability Assessments are tailored specifically for:
- Tender Preparation: Apply an openness assessment to your proposed system and resolve open system compliance concerns before submitting your tender.
- Tender Evaluations: Assess candidate solutions for their ability to deliver an open system within a competitive tender environment.
- Independent Oversight: Eliminate conflict of interest concerns by performing regular oversight on the systems architect and integrator roles to identify risks to openness and evolvability as soon as they arise.
Whether you are a vendor who is serious about manufacturing open systems, or a customer wanting an independent assessment of openness amongst competing candidate solutions, the Innovation Science Openness and Evolvability Assessment can help.
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