The DMTF Standards Incubation Process: Promoting Open Collaboration throughout the Standard
By: By Josh Cohen, Vice Chairman of the Board and Process Committee Chair
With the launch of the Open Cloud Standards Incubator in late April,
DMTF initiated its first effort using the standards incubation process. DMTF incubators are
designed to enable members to work together to produce informational specifications that can later
be submitted for further standards development.
Why was the Incubator Created?
In the past, the development cycle for a future standard often began with a group of vendors
working privately to create a specification. Once finished, this specification would be submitted
to a standards body, such as the DMTF, for ratification as a standard. While these private efforts
were very successful in certain situations, they also had various drawbacks. Even when operated
fairly, they were still governed by agreement of the vendors involved rather than an open standards
body with a well-defined process. The incubator process allows vendors to form a group within DMTF
to develop such a specification. The DMTF process ensures oversight by a standards body rather than
private vendor agreements. The DMTF processes themselves are defined, in a democratic process, by
the members of the organization. In cases where there is a disagreement, members can use a
well-defined escalation process which may proceed up to the DMTF Board of Directors for resolution.
This provides a mechanism to enable transparency and resolve issues fairly and by consensus of the
How is an Incubator created?
New incubators can be proposed by any two Board or Leadership member companies within DMTF.
Incubator proposals are submitted to the DMTF Process Committee Chair, who notifies the general
DMTF membership of the intent to form the incubator. Interested members then work to develop a
charter, which must be approved by the Board of Directors before the incubator can begin working on
its stated deliverables.
Once an incubator is approved, any DMTF member can participate to provide input. The Incubator may
define additional requirements for members who wish to participate at a leadership level. They also
define their voting rules and processes, where they do not conflict with overall DMTF processes, to
allow increased flexibility. This flexibility provides vendors an alternative to private
What is the output of an Incubator?
An Incubator will produce deliverables, such as specifications or other materials, that are
considered informational specifications. Informational specifications produced by DMTF incubators
are reviewed by the Board, which determines the next step for the work. Specifications developed
through the incubator process are expected to evolve into permanent DMTF standards; however, there
is no guarantee that DMTF will accept the specifications. More information on the incubator process
is available here.
If informational specifications are deemed appropriate for evolution into standards, they may be
transferred, by the Board, to an existing or new working group. That working group will apply
DMTF’s standards development process to take, as input, the Informational Specifications developed
by the Incubator and produce consensus-based DMTF standards.
In the case of the Open Cloud Standards Incubator, the incubation process allows DMTF members to
begin building alignment around an approach for addressing the emerging cloud ecosystem early in
the technology’s life cycle. This alignment, flexibility, transparency, and governance by the DMTF
allows for a streamlined path to produce standards in a timely manner.
DMTF is very pleased to be using the incubation process to explore the possibilities for cloud
standards. We look forward to the group’s continued work in this exciting space.
Upgraded Web Tools Coming Soon; Training Webinar Scheduled for June 17
In early July, DMTF will migrate to an updated version of the Kavi platform. The upgrade features
several changes and improvements to the existing DMTF Web tools that will help members collaborate
To ease this transition, DMTF is offering a training webinar for members on June 17 at 8:00 a.m.
PDT. The training will be accessible at http://dmtf.webex.com. Don’t miss this opportunity to
learn about the capabilities of the new platform. More information on the migration will be
available in the coming weeks.