Interoperability and open standards for eGovernment Services

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   eGov-Interop'05 Annual Conference
   23 -24 February 2005 – Geneva (Switzerland)

Interoperability and open standards for
        eGovernment Services

                  Hugo LUEDERS
          Initiative for Software Choice
    Director, Europe-Middle East, and Africa

                   eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)
                  ISC: an Industry Coalition of some 300
                    software companies – 80 in Europe

  • To ensure that all software licensing and development
    models remain viable

       -       proprietary, hybrid and OSS

  • Software should be chosen on its merits and value, not
    through categorical preferences

       -       tested by professional experiences and law
               (incl. EU public procurement regulations)

Hugo Lueders                  eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   2
                       ISC core principles

  • Procure software (case-by-case) on its merits and value,
    not on its license or development model

  • Promote universal availability of government-funded
    research, no R&D default preference

  • Promote interoperability through platform neutral and open

  • Maintain strong IPRs to promote pro-competitive software
    development solutions

Hugo Lueders            eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   3
                  ISC addresses mandatory
               “preference” policies worldwide

  • Nearly 70 such discriminatory laws, decrees or policies
    proposed in many countries - not only in Europe

  • These policies may include or make use of secondary
    legislation, administrative guidance or technical
    specifications or „advice‟ to impose exclusive standards

  • Preference laws will deter investors:
    - software companies, local resellers and developers
       would suffer and the industry and society as a whole
       would be hurt

Hugo Lueders            eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   4
                     Do Governments need these
                         preference policies?

  • e-security:         No clear-cut winner
  • Licence costs:      Software is a fraction of the TCO
                        through the whole value chain
  • Free service:       No free lunch; service costs will
                        come down the road

  • Employment:         Expert services might be
                        outsourced to other regions or
  • Interoperability:   Everyone agrees that products
                        must interoperate through open standards

Hugo Lueders            eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   5
               Interoperability and Open Standards
                   What does Interoperability mean?

  • Functional ability of two or more systems to interact or to
    be used easily or automatically in combination with each

  • Built and underpinned by and through adopted standards

  • A needed quality in the ICT industries
        – Provides connectivity between hardware or software,
          and between entities (government/business/citizens)
        – Increases flexibility and agility, reduces costs and
          implementation time

Hugo Lueders              eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   6
                    The Interoperability Continuum

  • Loose coupling vs. Tight coupling?

  • Coupling not through categorical preferences but case-by-
    case according to the specific interoperability facets

        – Content or service provider – to run a service over any
          suitable platform
        – Consumers – the ability to download content from
          different sources
        – Galileo/GPS network interoperability security to differ
          from local data interchange requirements

Hugo Lueders               eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   7
                     How is the ICT Industry
                    achieving interoperability?

 OSI Protocol
                     ebXML                                            Web Services

 Presentation   Trading Partner


                  Business                                       Publication
   Transport       Process
    Network         Core
                 Components                                       Message
   Data Link
    Physical      Messaging                                      Transport
Hugo Lueders         eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)                       8
                     Technical Interoperability

• EIF 1.0 (18 Nov. 04) describes 3 interop aspects:
        - Technical           communications infrastructure
        - Semantic            making business data understandable
        - Organisational      aligning business processes

• First: Technical Interoperability
     – Standards developed through open processes
     – Adoption driven by customer‟s requirements for standards
     – Standards and interoperability best when processes loosely
       coupled not by tight categorical preference

Hugo Lueders               eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   9
                     How to align Semantic and
                   Organisational Interoperability?

  • Semantic interop: driven by major software companies &
    leading public or private end-users

  • Organisational interop: business process standards driven
    by the market, major vendors and leading end-users

  • Problem aligning semantics and business processes
        – To agree on meaning of information
        – To agree on processes – laws must align

  • Alignment not a systems problem – political problem

Hugo Lueders                eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   10
                    Open standards and Open Source
                          are not synonymous

  • Open standards
      Specifications describing programme or device
      characteristics, available to the technical community,
      and vetted through open process, e.g.:
               - W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
               - OASIS (Organisation for the Advancement of Structured
                 Information Standards)
               - WS-I (Web Services-Interoperability Organisation)

  • Open Source Software (OSS)
      Source code is available to the general public for use
      and/or modification from original design without fees

Hugo Lueders                   eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   11
                       through open standards

  • Open Source Software may, or may not, interoperate

        – OSS should interoperate with other OSS if the 2 “end
          point” app‟s adhere to the same open standard/version
        – The fact that software is open source does not mean
          that it necessarily implements the same open standards
          as other Open Source Software applications

  • Proprietary software may also implement open standards
    and may, or may not, interoperate

        – Open standards specify the characteristics of the “wire”
          (the external interfaces) and both OSS as well as
          proprietary software may adhere to open standards

Hugo Lueders               eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   12
                  The EIF Open Standards Settings*
                   Any need to redefine the adopted term
                           “open standards”?

  • Maintained by a not-for-profit organisation, with an open
    decision-making procedure
  • Published and docs are available either freely or at a
    nominal charge; permissible to all to copy, distribute and
    use it for no fee or at a nominal fee
  • The IP – i.e. patents possibly present – of (parts of) the
    standard is made irrevocably available royalty-free
  • There are no constraints on the re-use of the standard

  * EIF 1.0 version of 18 Nov. 2004

Hugo Lueders                     eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   13
                    “Global Standards Collaboration”
                   GSC IPR Policies to provide incentives to
                     interoperate, innovate and compete*

        • Respecting the contribution of valuable IP assets
        • Balancing all stakeholders interests to make outcomes
          representative, inclusive and more broadly supported
        • Being open and transparent for all to review

        • Promoting the use of the best technical solutions
        • Being consistent with globally accepted F/RAND norms
          to receive reasonable and adequate compensation
        * 9th GSC meeting, Seoul 2004 (incl. ETSI)

Hugo Lueders                    eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   14
               The EICTA Open Standards Criteria

  • Control – the evolution of the specification should be set
    in transparent process open to all interested contributors

  • Completeness – the technical requirements of the solution
    to be specified enough to guarantee full interoperability

  • Compliance – there is a substantial standard-compliant
    offering promoted by proponents of the standard

  • Cost – fair reasonable and non-discriminatory access
    (RAND) is provided to IP unavoidably used in standard

Hugo Lueders            eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   15
                        Open Standards/Open Source
                             ANSI Comments*

      • OSS refers to software that is distributed under a certain
        license and not to the process by which a technical
        standard or specification is formulated

      • The terms “open” and “openness” (in conjunction with
        standards) characterise a process by which standards
        are subject to open, consensus-based procedures

      • The unrelated terms “open source” or “open source
        software” are properly used only to characterise a form
        of software distribution

      * 27th Oct. 2004 letter to the FTC

Hugo Lueders                      eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   16
                     Legal limits for Open Standards

  • EU law prohibits the definition of specifications excluding
    certain undertakings from a public tender

  • European case-law on technical standards prevents
    exclusive reference to a particular standard or technical
    solution (Dundalk case, Unix case)

  • Imposing “OSS-style Open Standards” as a matter of
    principle in public procurement would contradict EU law,
    public procurement directives and Intellectual Property

  * cf. ISC Legal Note of 16 Sept. 2004

Hugo Lueders                     eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   17
               Conclusions: no easy answers

    • Public Procurement “preference” laws or standards do
      not help, are not needed and therefore should be avoided

    • Lack of proof or reliable data over special value of
      “OSS-style Open Standards” for economic development

    • The arguments for and against each kind of software
      model are very finely balanced: competitive advantages

    • Technological neutrality will serve the public and the
      citizen best

    • Openness and neutrality principle reconfirmed by 2003
      WSIS Declaration and Action Plan

Hugo Lueders              eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   18
                          ISC Secretariat EMEA

                  B-1040 Brussels, 6, Rond Point Schuman
               Tel: +32-2/234.78.22, mobile: +32-475/63.33.52

                 ISC webpage:

Hugo Lueders                eGov Interop'05 - Feb 23-24, 2005 - Geneva (Switzerland)   19