Open Systems and SMEs are they Compatible?
Mention Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) to most Small Manufacturing Enterprises (SMEs) and you will either draw a blank stare or an informed shrug accompanied by the comment “Interesting, I suppose, if you’re GM, but not very relevant to me”. Further probing will bring comments about OSI being too expensive and too complex a solution to the perceived simpler communication needs of the SME.
In this paper, we consider the truth of those statements. We examine the financial implications of OSI in the SME environment and draw some conclusions about the broader issue of standards in operating systems, relational data bases, user interfaces, and languages as well as in communications. This suite of “standards” will be referred to as Open Systems within which OSI is a component.
It is clear that end users remain very sceptical about the true commitment of major vendors to Open Systems. Many users believe that vendors will continue to exploit their differences as competitive advantages and that they will continue to develop their own versions of “standards”. This wide-spread scepticism is retarding user take-up of Open Systems. After all, how can they commit to such systems if the vendors cannot? Our conclusion is that Open Systems today is a win for applications vendors who can facilitate the porting and subsequent product offerings of software across mufti vendor platforms. OSI specifically has the potential to be a win in the communications areas as users want better communication across multi-platforms.
However, as long as hardware vendors remain ambivalent about Open Systems, as long as they continue to give the appearance of paying only lip service to developing products which are conformant to major standards, so long as the controversies persist which prevent agreement of standards in operating systems, languages and data bases, SMEs will not be able to realize the full potential of Open Systems.
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