The Standards Blog

ODF Alliance Continues to Grow and Build Out

OpenDocument and OOXML

As you may recall, a new organization called the ODF Alliance was formed on March 3 of this year to support the uptake of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) by governments.  It's formation was in large part intended to make the adoption of ODF less difficult for future states (and less dangerous for state CIOs) than it had been for Massachusetts last year. Yesterday, the ODF Alliance  issued a press release announcing that it has more than tripled its membership to 138, and has also appointed a Managing Director.

As I reported one month ago today when I decided to look in on the Alliance a few weeks after its launch, this highly targeted initiative got off to a very rapid start.  It appears that the pace of recruitment has slowed (membership leaped from 38 to 113 in the first two and a half weeks, while an additional 25 members have joined in the past month), but I expect that the rate of recruitment may pick up again with the addtion of the new Managing Director, Marino Marcich.

The membership now comprises quite an intriguing list of members, including Corel Software, EDS, EMC, IBM, Novell, Opera Software, Optaros, Inc., Oracle, Software AG, and Sun Microsystems (among many others), on the vendor side, and BellCom OpenSource A/S, Free Standards Group, GNOME, Mandriva, OpenOffice.org,  OSDL, and Red Hat (again, among many others) on the open source side.   There are many other for profit and not for profit members of all types as well.  Or, as  sponsor organization Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) President  Ken Wasch phrases it in the press release, membership, "ranges from the City of Bloomington, Indiana and the National Archives of Australia to the Indian Institute of Technology and the Bristol City Council (UK)." (For a more detailed analysis of the membership at formation, see my earlier blog entry on March 3.)

The hiring of a Managing Director indicates a degree of commitment and longevity for the initiative, as it is difficult to attract good talent for transient efforts.  Marcich's credentials for the job are listed in the press release as follows:

Marcich brings more than a decade in working internationally on technology, standards and open market issues. Prior to joining the Alliance, Marcich was vice president of Dutko Global Advisors, an international strategy and management firm. A former senior official at the U.S. Department of State, Marcich has worked in Brussels advising companies on global strategies relating to regulation, standardization and trade issues.

The European connections are particularly apt, as active and public interest in open standards/open source is much higher in European governmental agencies than in the U.S. counterparts, where support for and adoption of open source software is ongoing but less visable.  The membership of the Alliance also reflects a very strong showing of European based companies and organizations of all types.

The press release does not include a great deal of additional information about the activities being conducted by the Alliance (nor has the ODF Alliance Website been updated with anything interesting in the last month), but it does close with this intriguing note:

The ODF Alliance is now actively supporting adoption of the Open Document Format as a worldwide standard of the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The six month approval ballot began November 1, 2005, and ends May 1, 2006. The ODF Alliance and its members have contacted various national voting entities recommending approval and are optimistic of a positive outcome.

In other words, it sounds like the Alliance is engaged in global lobbying for approval of ODF by ISO.  From what I understand from other sources, a favorable vote, perhaps involving the participation of an unusually high percentage of eligible members, is not in doubt.

As previously, I'll check in on the Alliance from time to time and report on further developments as they occur.

For further blog entries on ODF, click here

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