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Posted by John Keller

Well I'll be jiggered! They did what they said they were going to do, when they said they were going to do it.

I'm talking about the OpenVPX committee, whose members passed the OpenVPX interoperability draft standards over to the VITA 65 committee of the VITA Standards Organization on Monday, on time, on budget, and on the ball.

It's refreshing, in this day and age, to see folks say they're going to do something, and then do it. Thank you to everyone who participated in the OpenVPX process to lay down guidelines that ultimately will help major systems integrators choose the VITA 46 VPX switch fabric interconnect with good assurance that it will work when they put their systems together.

Now the OpenVPX standards go to the VITA open standards organization in Scottsdale, Ariz., for final ratification -- not only as a VITA standard, but as an ANSI standard as well. The OpenVPX name will live on as a brand name for the VITA 65 interoperability standards for the VPX interconnect.

This process has been different in many different ways. First, the speed at which the OpenVPX committee agreed on interoperability standards acceptable to the big systems integrators like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman is unprecedented -- at least in recent memory.

Put a bunch of engineers in a room and ask them to agree on technical standards is usually a recipe for a time-consuming food-fight, with different camps fighting over the most minute details. Not this time -- not with OpenVPX.

The folks on this committee had a real sense of urgency. They knew that if they didn't come up with a draft standard, and quickly, that the prime systems integrators would go elsewhere for their switch fabric interconnects -- possibly to proprietary, closed-system approaches. Now that's probably not going to happen.

Second, the OpenVPX standards this group is handing over to the VITA 65 committee will be considered a "living specification," not set in stone, and with accommodations for upgrades and other improvements as time goes on.

Last, and perhaps most important, is this standard probably has more buy-in from the prime systems integrators, from the get-go, than most standards have had in the past. These so-called "lead systems integrators (LSIs)" were there to ride herd on the techno-purists and make sure the job got done.

Rest assured, furthermore, that the big systems integrators will keep an eye on the process as the OpenVPX interoperability standard goes through the VITA 65 committee because "they already have so much skin in the game," says Mark Littlefield of Curtiss-Wright Controls

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Blogger Chris said...
Nicely put, John. And especially interesting that while VITA took its eye off the ball in the first place, the organization got back in the game....and now controls the ball via VITA 65. Those guys are smart.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:47:00 PM EDT  

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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.

John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.