Open Standards

Customer-Centric Open Standards

Customer-Centric Open Standards

Cisco Fellow Fred Baker is a former Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Chair, a current IETF Working Group Chair, and a member of the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee. Baker summarized his philosophy of developing open standards by stating that "Involvement with customers is perhaps the best use of my time. Senior engineers have to talk with and have personal relationships with customers to solve real customer problems."

"I want to solve real problems that customers are having, and provide them with interoperable second sources so that they are comfortable deploying them. That is the best way I can think of to have happy customers."

Baker observes that many companies try to force customers to use proprietary technologies, because it is easier to offer advanced features, and it helps ensure that each customer will buy future products and enhancements.  However, customers generally resist using these technologies, and may deploy only products with proven interoperability from secondary sources.

As a result, this strategy may undermine the company’s relationship with customers, making it difficult to collaborate on specifications.  Baker notes that "customers come up with good ideas and want their vendors to listen to them. There is nothing like co-authoring a specification with them to help ensure that they feel heard."

Baker's current work demonstrates how he acts on his customer-centric standards philosophy. He is working on projects with three customers, dealing with:

  • Source Address Validation
  • IPv4/IPv6 Translation, a technology supporting enterprise and service provider
  • IPv6 deployment
  • Mobile Ad Hoc Routing in OSPFv3
  • Definition of an Emergency Telecommunications Service
  • Improved scaling of internet routing
  • Improved transport behavior for applications like the World Wide Web.