Massachusetts Promotes Open Standards as SOA
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is promoting an Enterprise Open Standards
policy that advocates using open-source office applications while at the same
time it sets guides for moving to a service-oriented architecture. According
to a statement posted on the state’s Web
site, the plan is to standardize on platforms and technologies that will
make it possible for state government and its partners to more readily exchange
and reuse data.
“Information is no longer viewed as an exclusive agency asset but is
leveraged and re-used throughout the enterprise while observing appropriate
privacy and security protections,” according to Peter Quinn, the state’s
CIO. “Electronic records are preserved in open formats that allow for
optimal electronic records conservation and availability to the public over
long periods of time.”
One of the most critical SOA decisions for the Commonwealth is the adoption
of XML as the primary standard for data interoperability, Quinn says. “XML
has become the lingua franca of application integration, facilitating application
interoperability, regardless of platform or programming language.”
Unless there are compelling reasons not to use XML, Quinn says, agencies should
consider incorporating XML into all their projects. Some agencies are just beginning
to create XML-aware applications. The Mass.gov portal uses XML to separate content
from presentation, for example.
In addition, Massachusetts agencies have until Jan. 1, 2007, to install applications
that support OpenDocument file formats. Massachusetts endorsed using Adobe’s
PDF, which meets the “criteria of openness and therefore considered acceptable."
Documents need to adhere to a version of PDF that supports XML.
"Given the majority of executive department agencies currently use office
applications such as MS Office, Lotus Notes and WordPerfect that produce documents
in proprietary formats, the magnitude of the migration effort to this new open
standard is considerable," Quinn says.
The OpenDocument format, which the state ratified as a standard last May, includes
word processors, spreadsheets and other applications such as Sun’s StarOffice
Quinn says the state met with industry representatives earlier this year about
office applications and its standards, and the discussions centered on office
documents, their importance for the current and future accessibility of government
records, and the relative openness of the format options available to us, Quinn