Everything you always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about The Open Group

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The Open Group is a leader in IT standards.When it comes to IT standards, perhaps no industry consortium is as well-known as The Open Group. Boasting more than 450 member organizations, The Open Group is recognized globally as a leader in the development of vendor-neutral certifications and IT standards. With a worldwide membership (China, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, for example), The Open Group currently maintains offices in Brazil, India, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Open Group membership is rich in diversity including vendors, academia, suppliers, researchers, and much more. There are three membership tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum. While you’re likely to recognize industry leaders at all membership levels, at the Platinum membership level, you’ll find some of the elite mega-powerhouses in IT, including IBM, HP, Oracle, CapGemini and Philips.

While there are certainly many industry standards, and perhaps thousands of IT certifications available, it’s clear that there is something special and unique about The Open Group. Something that makes it attractive to enterprise corporations and those seeking excellence and quality in certifications and IT standards. The rise of The Open Group’s popularity (and stellar reputation) stems from two primary areas — its roots and its vision.

The Open Group isn’t a newcomer to the realm of IT certifications and standards. It’s the successor organization to some of the initial groups that tried to bring order from the IT chaos that prevailed during the “UNIX Wars.” Just in case you need a refresher on the UNIX Wars (or perhaps you’re too young to remember the days before standards were, well standard), the UNIX operating system was originally developed by AT&T in the 1970s.

By the 1980s, however, there were two popular versions of UNIX — one authored by UNIX primogenitor AT&T (System V) and the other created by the University of California, Berkley (BSD UNIX). While both shared a common original base code (Version 7 UNIX), the two dominant versions of UNIX that emerged were developed on divergent research streams resulting in versions which contained differing features and functionality.

There was no standardization during this period of development and the various UNIX systems weren’t necessarily compatible with one another. Also, it wasn’t uncommon for individual vendors to promote different versions of the UNIX offering. Obviously, competition to establish your particular version of UNIX as the preferred version was fierce.

In an effort to standardize open systems and promote greater compatibility and interoperability, the X/Open group was formed in 1984. The formation of the Open Software Foundation (OSF) followed in 1988, along with UNIX International (UI). The UNIX Wars began to draw to a close with the creation of the Common Open Software Environment (COSE) alliance in 1993. Eventually, AT&T sold UNIX to Novell which transferred it to X/Open. By 1996, X/Open and the OSF merged to give birth to The Open Group making it a child born of the UNIX wars.

Today, The Open Group is a recognized leader in IT certification standards. Of primary importance to The Open Group is its mission to drive the concept of Boundaryless Information Flow™ throughout the industry. To accomplish their mission, The Open Group employs a four-fold strategy:

1. Emerging technologies: Identify emerging IT trends, understand their impact, and create policies and best practices related to the future use of such emerging requirements.
2. Collaboration and facilitation: Lead in gaining consensus on open source technologies in areas of interoperability and specification integration.
3. Services: Provide services to membership that promotes efficiency.
4. Certifications: Lead the industry in certification excellence and services.

Since its inception, The Open Group has authored 16 inventions and standards, including the Single UNIX Specification (SUS), Common Desktop Environment (CDE), Motif, Universal Data Element Framework (UDEF) standard, ArchiMate, Call Level Interface (basis for ODBC), and TOGAF Enterprise Architecture Framework. The Open Group specifications have become industry standards changing the way we choose to do business.

The Open Group currently offers a number of experience and knowledge based certifications. The current credential offerings include:

The Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA): Focused on verifying skills for business and enterprise architects; three levels available (Certified, Master, and Distinguished); more than 4,000 credential holders.

The Open Group Certified IT Specialist (Open CITS): Documents the skills of IT specialists; more than 3,000 credential holders.

ArchiMate® Certifications: Focused on the ArchiMate Open Group standard specifications. Programs include ArchiMate 2 Certification for People Program, ArchiMate 2 Tool Certification Program, and an Accredited Training Program Course program.

Open FAIR Certifications: Focused on needs of risk analysts; covers the Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) methodology as well as the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge.

TOGAF® Certifications: Two certifications available, TOGAF 9 Foundation and TOGAF 9 Certified. Both certify understanding of the TOGAF standard.

The Open Group is a leader in IT standards.In addition to their certification portfolios, The Open Group sponsors quarterly conferences, events, meetings, forums, work groups (and more) designed to address a wide range of issues such as emerging technologies, business, technical, regulatory, and legal, and so forth, which impact the open source community.

The Open Group is also responsible for publishing multiple publications including white papers, technical guides, case studies, and much more. Members will find publications available on a range of interest areas and a variety of subjects ranging from cloud computing to security and risk to Open Platform 3.0, architecture and much more. Publications are free to members.

The Open Group forums afford members a platform to collaborate on industry best practices and standards, develop recommendations, and share knowledge. Silver members may participate in one Forum while Gold members may join any number of Forums.

Available Forums include ArchiMate, Jericho, Platform, Architecture, Enterprise Management, Identity Management, Security, Trusted Technology, Real Time and Embedded Systems, Universal Data Element Framework, and IT4IT. In addition to general Forums, there are special Platinum Forums which are available only to Platinum Members. The Governing Board charters Work Groups and members may join as many Work Groups as they wish.

For organizations that may need assistance implementing best practices or standards, The Open Group offers numerous collaborative services. Services range from setting goals and objectives, initial program set up, procurement, development and testing. The Open Group also provides training and certifications once programs are initiated.

Regardless of the industry sector — healthcare, government, private — The Open Group standards, certifications and services provide a solid foundation to accomplish your organizations business objectives.

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Mary Kyle


Mary Kyle is a full-time freelance writer, editor and project manager based in Austin, Texas. Formerly employed in various positions at IBM, Mary has more than 10 years of project management experience in IT, software development and IT-related legal issues.

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