Inside The Open Group

A Report on Emerging Technology and Standards

Sharing the Costs and Benefits of R&D

The Open Group Research Institute continues its mission of advancing open systems technology.

By Amy Auman

Over the past six years, The Open Group Research Institute (RI) has functioned as a shared research and development facility for the open systems industry. Its mission is to investigate software technology that is needed to improve the scalability, portability, interoperability and usability of computer systems. The RI is successful when its research delivers innovation and economy. Innovation provides solutions to difficult systems technology requirements, and economy provides a vehicle for shared investment in research. How successful has the RI been?

"Our work is broadly supported by government and industrial organizations; we've transferred our technology to both government and commercial concerns; and many companies have released products incorporating all or parts of our technology," says Paul Dale, a Research Institute veteran recently appointed to head the RI. "So I'd have to say that we've been very successful."

Recent technology transfers include the following:

In all cases, the cost of research and development has been shared by government and industry.

Currently, the RI has contracts with the following government agencies:

These relationships are complemented by industrial support from Apple, Dascom, Digital Equipment Corp., ETRI, Fujitsu, Gradient, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, NCR, Novell, Sony, Sun Microsystems and Trusted Information Systems.

The RI has core competencies in realtime, security, fault tolerance, scalability, portability and distribution and mobility. The RI currently develops and delivers its results through programs in Java, Web and operating system technology.

Java and the Web

The RI is championing the use of Java technology for platform-independent coding of client software that participates in a distributed computing environment. Besides the Java ports mentioned above, the RI's Java initiatives include:

The RI's work on integrating OSF DCE technology with the Web is intended to enhance the security and usability of the Web. This integration should provide improved authentication, encryption, fine-grained access control, logical names (versus absolute names--URLs) and other benefits. The RI's Web initiatives include:

In addition to the above Internet-related projects, the RI's system technology efforts focus on advancing the state-of-the-art in several areas, including:

Changing of the Guard

Since its beginning, the RI has operated under the direction of Ira Goldstein. Recently Goldstein left the RI to take the dual position of chief technology officer of Hewlett-Packard's computer systems organization and Internet technology officer. In this new role he is responsible for leading HP's Internet strategy. At the RI, Goldstein was early to embrace the Internet and related technology as a key part of an infrastructure which could deliver the RI's vision of "access anywhere, anytime, to unlimited computation and information."

His successor, Paul Dale, discusses the future of the RI. "We'll continue working with Ira's 'economic innovation' as a measure of our success," he says. "The philosophy of shared investment in R&D and sharing of the results broadens the common infrastructure required for open systems.

"Look at the success of the Internet," Dale continues. "It's a prime example of the positive effect on all classes of users of the wide-scale deployment of open technology. In the near future, we'll continue to focus our resources on Internet-related issues and the core operating system technology needed to support the increasing demands on system performance, scalability and availability in an interconnected world."

The RI will host its next public symposium in conjunction with the UniForum Conference in March 1997.

Amy Auman is manager of marketing communications programs for The Open Group. She can be reached at