The main aim of standardization is to enable interoperability in a multi-vendor, multi-network, multi-service environment. Businesses cannot afford to allow products and services for which there is great demand not to interoperate and thus not to come into being.
ETSI is therefore committed to ensuring that interoperability cannot be obstructed by poor or insufficient standardization. A standard is only one part of the design phase of an eventual product, but it is a critical part.
We know what the inhibitors to interoperability are, and we are organized to avoid them. We do this by operating a standardizing process that is proven, managed and accountable. Our experience has shown that our approach goes a long way towards eliminating basic interoperability problems at an early stage, thereby saving costs and potentially embarrassing publicity for the implementers of standards, as well as for ETSI itself.
We address the issue of interoperability from several directions:
- production of technical standards and reports, following well-defined and transparent procedures in which all interested parties can participate. The procedures ensure that the documents are written in well-structured prose, and also provide for the judicious application of modelling techniques, tools and specialized languages where appropriate
development of standardized test specifications. Testing will not eliminate all possible instances of non-interoperability, but it can do a lot to help. ETSI focuses on the development of two types of test specifications, which reflect the principle: test the components first, then test the system, i.e.:
- conformance test specifications; and
- interoperability test specifications.
Conformance testing and interoperability testing are complementary techniques. ETSI is a world leader in the development and application of testing methodologies, techniques and languages. Nearly all ETSI conformance test suites are developed according to International Standard ISO/IEC 9646, recognized as the standard for conformity assessment. ETSI has also developed a similar methodology for interoperability testing.
- interoperability test events. The ETSI PLUGTESTS Service is a professional unit of ETSI specializing in organizing and running interoperability test events for a wide range of converging standards for telecommunications, Internet, broadcasting and multimedia.
Companies (they do not have to be ETSI members) that participate in PLUGTESTS events find that they are effective in improving both the quality and features of their implementations, accelerating time to market thanks to early product debugging. The events provide a unique opportunity to meet partners and competitors, whilst the feedback from the events is extremely valuable to the standardization process. Ultimately, the PLUGTESTS service helps to ensure end user satisfaction and improved business revenue.