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About The Open Computing Alliance

 

The Open Computing Alliance (OCA) was founded in June 2009 by Tim Cowen, former General Counsel and Commercial Director at BT Global Services. The Alliance’s charter is to build a community of interested parties to address issues of mutual concern across the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector, including the impact of the emergence of Cloud Computing. The OCA is currently focused on identifying issues and solutions related to procurement, competition and interoperability.

The hallmark of the Alliance is active participation from a cross-section of ICT organizations. Current participants include BT, Fujitsu, CSC, Colt, Microsoft, Hitachi Data Systems, Airwave, Cap Gemini, Logica and Symantec. The Alliance is also encouraging participation by customer associations such as the International Telecommunications Users Group (INTUG) and academic institutions such as University College London, (Department of Computer Sciences).  For example, the OCA and Queen Mary College, London are jointly investigating how computer and communications systems are accessed and how interoperability can be developed to guarantee that applications run across multiple technology platforms given the shift to Cloud Computing.

The OCA has engaged an experienced senior representative for Asia - Pacific, Michael Mudd, based in Hong Kong China, to drive membership and issues in a region bounded by Japan, India and Australia, home to over half the world populations and fastest growing economies. 

The goals of the OCA are:

  • To build a proactive organisation of providers and users of ICT solutions to identify, develop and communicate positions related to public policy, regulatory and other related issues.
  • To support public initiatives dedicated to increasing productivity, growth and employment through the greater use of ICT.
  • To help educate policymakers, governments, and regulatory or enforcement agencies about the ICT industry, the dynamic nature of competition in the industry and the economic forces shaping the industry, particularly as the industry shifts to Cloud Computing models.
  • To promote pro-consumer open markets and encourage more efficient and effective regulation of markets by policymakers, governments, regulatory and enforcement agencies.
  • To improve the procurement processes for ICT products and services used by governments and public authorities.
  • To promote the ability to securely access critical corporate and government data across all technology platforms through recognized standards.

Areas of Focus:

A transformation is taking place in the computer and communications world today with the shift from on-premises computing to a service-oriented, off-premises computing model known as Cloud Computing. The concept of Cloud Computing is now a reality in part due to the liberalisation of the telecommunications industry which has resulted in increased choice and reduced communication costs between suppliers and consumers. However, as Cloud solution providers offer customers computer applications and software services at a distance, the challenge now is to ensure that the various systems and services operate together or "interoperate". Interoperability needs to work in a way that addresses customer needs first, regardless of the underlying technology platform. Interoperability based on open standards must also exist between legacy on-premises systems and Cloud-based systems and services. Where technology "lock-in" prevents interoperability or confers unfair competitive advantage to a particular provider, authorities should intervene to ensure that undistorted competition and cross-system interoperability are maintained.

The ICT sector has historically been an area where authorities have proactively applied competition rules to maintain open markets. These rules should promote a level playing field for competition, prohibit abuse by dominant firms and control anti-competitive agreements and cartels, however in some cases suppliers and procurement agencies ignore the rules. Given technology’s central role in the Lisbon Strategy for driving GDP growth in a modern European economy, the European Commission has prioritised anti-trust enforcement in the ICT sector for some time. In the United States, the Obama administration has also indicated that anti-trust enforcement action in the ICT sector is a top priority.

With the rise of cloud computing, there has been a revolutionary shift in the networking world from expensive, proprietary hardware solutions to open, agile software-driven approaches. These developments have the potential to lower costs while increasing flexibility and management capabilities if the market can diverge from its legacy mindset. Now that governments are working to diversify their ICT supply chains to level the playing field for all vendors, innovative networking technologies should have a chance to compete for ICT contracts.

Procurement legislation should be designed to ensure that open markets are maintained and government purchasing is bound by open, non-discriminatory competition laws. Laws should also ensure that governmental bodies follow a transparent competitive tendering process to acquire ICT goods and services that is economically beneficial to both the users and suppliers.  

    Open Computing Alliance Limited is registered in England and Wales with number 7089537 and has its registered office at 62-64 Cannonsgate House, Cannon Street, London, EC4N 6AE