Friday, April 23, 2010

Proprietary versus Open and Royalty Free Protocols

I have called the previous attempts for a standard mechanism for machine tools to communicate the "Country Club Approach To Protocols" where you have to "pay to join the MASTER PROPRIETARY Country Club and then you have to pay to play wherever and whenever you play golf."

Let me expand on the golf analogy.  I chose this sport because my parents live and die for golf.  As a child, I would always look forward to going to the mailbox to get the postcards they would send from their exotic vacations they would take around the globe to try out different golf courses.  When my sister and I were older, they allowed us to come along when we proved we could carry their bags for 18 holes.   I have wonderful memories of being a 125 pound 12 year old carrying around an 80 pound golf bag for 18 holes in 105 degree heat, but I digress :-)  Back to the golf analogy.

Below are the specifics of a PROPRIETARY PROTOCOL and following the golf analogy:
  • With a proprietary protocol they do not own just THE MASTER Country Club, they own ALL of golf.
  • The first step is that You have to PAY to join THE MASTER PROPRIETARY Protocol Country Club
  • You Pay Each Time You Play, WHEREVER  AND WHENEVER YOU PLAY!
  • It does not matter if you want to invest your own money to build your own Country Club or public golf course, you STILL HAVE TO PAY THE MASTER PROPRIETARY Protocol Country Club for the right to build a golf course and the MASTER Country Club determines the fees you must charge each golfer.
  • The MASTER PROPRIETARY proprietary protocol controls all aspects of the game, the country clubs, public golf courses, design of golf clubs, who can teach golf, etc....

Let's look at the difference at the MTConnect OPEN and ROYALTY FREE Golf Club:
  • It is FREE to join the MTConnect OPEN and ROYALTY FREE Golf Club.
  • You are free to play golf anywhere and at any time and there is NO FEE back to OPEN and ROYALTY Free Golf Club.
  • There are rules that are freely available for anyone to read and follow to make sure that the game of golf is consistent.  For example, you can not hit a golf ball with a baseball bat instead of a golf club.  
  • There is no FEE back to the MTConnect OPEN and ROYALTY Free Golf Club if you want to create your own golf course, your own golf clubs, golf bags, golf balls, etc.
    • There are agreed upon rules that are widely available so that golf balls are not self-powered for example :-)
  • If you create and build your own golf course, clubs, balls, etc., you are free to charge or not charge whatever you like.
Hopefully this golf analogy gives you a better idea on the differences between proprietary and open protocols.   The other analogy that I like is from Scott McNealy, Founder of Sun Microsystems.  Scott liked to say that "a proprietary protocol is like having a private company own the alphabet".   Imagine if you had to pay a fee for each time you used the letter "d" or "e" in any type of writing?  Or worse, imagine if the company that owned the alphabet would decide to get rid of the letters "d" and "e" so all of your books were no longer readable?  Sound familiar?   Open protocols almost always win and proprietary protocols almost always lose....