OpenVPX interoperability standard hands off to VITA in another step toward ratification

By John Keller
Posted by John Keller

Well I'll be jiggered! They did what they said they were going to do, when they said they were going to do it.

I'm talking about the OpenVPX committee, whose members passed the OpenVPX interoperability draft standards over to the VITA 65 committee of the VITA Standards Organization on Monday, on time, on budget, and on the ball.

It's refreshing, in this day and age, to see folks say they're going to do something, and then do it. Thank you to everyone who participated in the OpenVPX process to lay down guidelines that ultimately will help major systems integrators choose the VITA 46 VPX switch fabric interconnect with good assurance that it will work when they put their systems together.

Now the OpenVPX standards go to the VITA open standards organization in Scottsdale, Ariz., for final ratification -- not only as a VITA standard, but as an ANSI standard as well. The OpenVPX name will live on as a brand name for the VITA 65 interoperability standards for the VPX interconnect.

This process has been different in many different ways. First, the speed at which the OpenVPX committee agreed on interoperability standards acceptable to the big systems integrators like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman is unprecedented -- at least in recent memory.

Put a bunch of engineers in a room and ask them to agree on technical standards is usually a recipe for a time-consuming food-fight, with different camps fighting over the most minute details. Not this time -- not with OpenVPX.

The folks on this committee had a real sense of urgency. They knew that if they didn't come up with a draft standard, and quickly, that the prime systems integrators would go elsewhere for their switch fabric interconnects -- possibly to proprietary, closed-system approaches. Now that's probably not going to happen.

Second, the OpenVPX standards this group is handing over to the VITA 65 committee will be considered a "living specification," not set in stone, and with accommodations for upgrades and other improvements as time goes on.

Last, and perhaps most important, is this standard probably has more buy-in from the prime systems integrators, from the get-go, than most standards have had in the past. These so-called "lead systems integrators (LSIs)" were there to ride herd on the techno-purists and make sure the job got done.

Rest assured, furthermore, that the big systems integrators will keep an eye on the process as the OpenVPX interoperability standard goes through the VITA 65 committee because "they already have so much skin in the game," says Mark Littlefield of Curtiss-Wright Controls

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

July 2015
Volume 26, Issue 7

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