Elliotte Rusty Harold has a review over at IBM DeveloperWorks XML in 2006 which is worth even a quick skim, because he identifies very clearly the split between grassroots technologies (good in his view) and pointy-haired-boss-imposed technologies (bad.)
The money quote:
Ten years ago, the grunt programmers and network admins were installing Web servers on surplus PCs reformatted with Linux while the CEOs and CTOs played golf with salespeople and mandated corporate-wide Exchange Server deployments. Those same low-level techies made XML a success by throwing out decades of legacy binary gook and replacing it with off-the-shelf, open source parsers. Today, these people are quietly installing REST, Atom, and RELAX NG.
This is a slightly romantic view, of course. C*Os don’t only spend their time arranging pointy-haired golf deals, but they are also the ones pushing for adoption of Open Standards (though, perhaps the push to Open Standards is as a result of golfing with IBM sales people rather than MS sales people!). And low-level techies are sometimes the most conservative of people; they may play the field early in their careers and strive to find the most fabulous technology to best handle a job, but sooner or later they fall in love, settle down, and don’t want a divorce.
But ERH’s split (which echoes Jon Bosaks keynote at XML 2006) is a dynamic that procurement departments should understand. The combination of small open standards and modest open source projects seems especially potent for value-adding and enhancing existing systems: for evolutions rather than revolutions. It also fits into the Agile software development methodologies, where you implement the smallest system that would work, being free to learn and evolve the requirements in the light of emerging issues and opportunities, and then rapidly respond to actual issues that come out from using the system. This view also sees standards as a library of solutions (even the dusty ones) awaiting adoption. So an issue of IT governance would be “Are our solution developers and procurement departments aware in sufficient detail of the available open standard and open source solutions?”