Do We Need a New Standards Body?

Could the OSGi Alliance Take Over JCP’s Role?

Jessica Thornsby
Could-the-OSGi-Alliance-Take-Over-JCP-s-Role

Peter Kriens blogs the pros and cons of the OSGi Alliance assuming a JCP-like role.

It seems everyone has an opinion on the state of the JCP, and
Peter Kriens is the latest in a string of prominent community
members to post his take on the JCP debate; namely, that the OSGI
alliance’s structure is better suited to Java specifications than
the JCP’s.

The tricky subject of patents and copyrights are – in his
opinion – not so tricky for the OSGi Alliance. All Intellectual
Property is licensed to all members of the OSGi Alliance and the
specifications can be implemented by non-members. When it comes to
the JCP, Kriens states that “the contributions of other members in
the expert groups are gladly taken for free but do not provide any
rights in return.” When it comes to patents, in 2006 the OSGi
Alliance pledged royalty-free access to “necessary” patents
which were defined as patents that accelerate “the adoption of OSGi
technology worldwide.” They were joined in this pledge by Nokia,
IBM, Samsung, Makewave and ProSyst Software.

Peter Kriens has dealt with JSRs in the past, and in his
experience the process can differ widely on the JCP – he claims
this is not so with the OSGi Alliance, which implements a
standardised process where requirements are addressed first in a
Request For Proposal document, followed by APIs. He has found
ordering a proposal in this manner is often easier, as agreements
on requirements can be reached more quickly than agreements on
implementation proposals. Compatibility Tests can also be obtained
free of charge for qualifying open source projects.

In the interests of fairness, Peter Kriens acknowledges a few of
the possible arguments against the OSGi Alliance assuming the JCP’s
role. He admits there is a preconceived notion of OSGi being
closed, but points out that the OSGi Alliance has been releasing
RFCs ahead of specifications, and that the EG works best when there
is a period of time to act together before publishing. Another
potential problem is money: the OSGi Alliance subscription fee is
currently $25k, although there are currently plans afoot to try and
introduce tiered subscription fees. Peter Kriens admits high
subscription fees might be a necessary evil, in order to be
“independent of the big guys” who traditionally gain more power in
a supposedly equal organisation, by paying more. Another problem is
that the specifications would of course take the OSGi framework
into consideration, and not everyone uses this framework. However,
Peter Kriens points out that this would not influence the
specifications’ usage outside of the OSGi framework if said
specifications were properly cohesive and uncoupled.

Peter Kriens is pragmatic about the reality of the OSGI Alliance
taking over the JCP’s role, but the idea has been discussed in the
community, with Neil Bartlett posting a thinly-veiled blog painting the OSGi Alliance
as “a credible specification and standards body.” He praises it as
a more equal body than the JCP, and the fact that all
specifications come with a non-assert patent pledge from the
members.

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