July 23, 2003

Proprietary vs. Standard Solutions - Not Always a Clear Choice

Over on TheServerSide.com :

Stuart Charlton looks at the dilemma of choosing between standards-based and proprietary technologies. According to Stu, the "all standards, all the time" attitude blinds us to the principles of delivering quality software. It ignores the need for continued innovation in the commercial sphere, and hides the tremendous differences that products have in their core assumptions and paradigms. He believes developers need to be more cognizant of the tradeoffs involved in choosing a standard approach over a proprietary approach. Either approach might be superior, depending on your project's needs. The choice is rarely cut-and-dry, especially in areas of data access and management.

[ Stuart Charlton - Proprietary vs. Standard Solutions: Not Always a Clear Choice ]

Here's some interesting excerpts, which provide a thought-provoking challenge for the standards industry I think:

Taking a standards-based approach is useful only when the technical domain in question is mature and there is more benefit gained from standardization than from continued innovation.

My fear is that we sometimes can get too "drunk on standards" and miss the forest for the trees.

Premature standards can cause tremendous strife in delivering quality software.

Sometimes, on the other hand, standards drive the innovation of companies.

Stu provides some illustrations of these aspects drawn from the history of EJB / J2EE, but I think his points are generally applicable in the wider context too.

I don't want to re-open the Great Petstore Debate either, but I think Stu has some valid points on that front too.

As Stu points out, delivering a working project on-time to fulfill a real business need may be better than waiting around for the standards to crystallize and mature. It's a difficult choice though, and often not clear cut at all.

Food for thought for anyone working in the Web Services standards process!

Entry categories: Standards
Posted by Jorgen Thelin at July 23, 2003 11:51 AM - [PermaLink]
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