Sunday, July 20, 2008

The two cultures

There is a strong cultural difference between the approach of the computer world and the telecom world. The computer world makes progress through vendor neutral open standards. E.g. HTTP is a vendor neutral standard that is controlled by no firm. You can download the full specification. There is no commercial or legal overhead for a person to sit down with the HTTP spec and start writing stuff. There is unlimited flexibility for people writing software at the server and the client in terms of what they want to do - as long as both sides speak HTTP. The HTTP server does not know or care who is on the other side - as long as the other side speaks grammatically correct HTTP conversations.

Such openness has been crucial to the revolutionary growth in sophistication, and crashing prices, of the computer industry. The big telecom companies, in contrast, like to have much more control. One famous battle between the two approaches was the war between X.25 and TCP/IP. The computer companies won; almost everyone in the world now uses TCP/IP.

In the Economist, I read an interesting article about the emerging conflict between WiMAX (being advocated by the computer companies) and LTE (being advocated by the telecom companies.

1 comment:

  1. Ajay,
    this is a propaganda done by the computer industry that people donot trealise that telecom has equally open standards, and computers have same vendor wars.
    Telecom standards are done by ITU-T etc. and an example of famous battle of microsoft leb lobby and rest is ODF vs OXML...

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