Anish Karmarkar, Ph.D.

OASIS Board Member Spotlight Series: Q&A with Anish Karmarkar, Ph.D.

The OASIS Board of Directors are integral to the organization's success. Read our Q&A to gain a better sense of who they are and why they serve the OASIS community.

Meet Anish Karmarkar, Ph.D., an accomplished software professional whose career spans over two decades in the computer software industry. Anish’s active involvement in diverse Working Groups, Technical Committees, and Expert Groups serves as a testament to his unwavering commitment to advancing innovation.

What can you tell us about your current role?*
I’m a Senior Director in the Standards Strategy and Architecture team that reports directly to the Chief Corporate Architect at Oracle. We are responsible for overseeing our participation in technical standards and standards setting organizations across all business units and geographies. This involves coordinating with internal stakeholders in business units and working with developers, executives, and legal and policy professionals to create and execute coherent strategies.

My work also involves getting directly engaged in standards activities of strategic interests and representing Oracle in standards setting organizations at the managerial, governance, oversight, policy, and technical level. We serve as a point of contact for standards related matters and communication.
(*Anish began a new role in December 2023 at Amazon Web Services.)

What inspired you to join the OASIS Board of Directors?
OASIS has a very important role to play in the standards and open source ecosystem and to that end it is important to have a strong, capable, and experienced Board of Directors to oversee it. I believe my experience and passion for standards and standards setting organizations allows me to contribute to OASIS’ continued success.

Additionally, my team at Oracle is very supportive of me taking this role, as Oracle values industry-driven consensus standards and has been a supporter of OASIS for decades, going back to the days of ODF, SAML, and XACML. OASIS standards are important to their products and to their customers. Oracle continues to participate in various cloud- and security-related Technical Committees (TC) such as CSAF and VIRTIO.

What has been your involvement at OASIS?
I became involved in OASIS during the heydays of XML standards. Along with W3C and OMG, this is where I cut my standards-teeth. I always liked the openness, the transparency, the people involved in OASIS, and the attitude of enabling everyone to bring their ideas forward. OASIS always had the principle of letting a thousand flowers bloom and allowing the market to decide what is adopted and what can achieve success.

I’ve been actively engaged in a technical capacity in OASIS since 2003. I’ve been a contributor to eleven different OASIS TCs, editor of several OASIS specifications, and co-chair of three TCs. I did some work on the Service Component Architecture (SCA) under the Open Composite Services Architecture (Open CSA) Member Section and was a member of the Open CSA’s Steering Committee. I also played a role in facilitating the transfer of work from an organization called Web Services Interoperability (WS-I). It involved transferring their specifications, IPR, and funds to OASIS for future development and maintenance. This was overseen by the OASIS WS-I Member Section and I served on its Steering Committee.

What types of skills/expertise do you bring to the OASIS Board?
More than 25 years ago I was involved in implementing standards from OSF/DCE and POSIX pthreads. Since then, I have been involved with standards development and implementation in a technical, managerial, governance, policy, and leadership capacity. In 2022, ANSI named me a recipient of the Meritorious Service Award in recognition of my record of significant contribution to voluntary standards. My experiences and perspectives as a contributor, author, editor, chair, member of various boards, and executive and leadership positions at different standards-setting organizations give me valuable expertise crucial for serving on the OASIS Board of Directors. As OASIS builds on its successes and charts its future for its fourth decade in the ever-changing world of IT, I hope my broad experience and perspective in standards along with my skills in collaboration strategies, enterprise software development, and architecture can contribute to the organization’s endeavors.

How do you hope to make an impact as a board member during your term?
I hope to leverage my experiences from other SSOs/SDOs in implementing general best practices to make OASIS an even better organization. I think OASIS is truly in a unique place because it bridges both open source and open standards. As a member of the OASIS Board Governance, Finance, and Process Committees I hope to have an impact on the organization by advocating for changes that I think would make OASIS a better place for collaborations on standards and open source.

The current Board, I’m glad to say, brings different perspectives and representatives to the table. From large companies to SMEs to start-ups, academia to industry, and from North America to Europe, we bring much-needed diverse experiences and points of view. I believe this brings together a complementary set of skills needed for fiduciary and strategic oversight of an organization like OASIS.

What excites you about OASIS and why are you passionate about its mission?
OASIS has the right processes in place and the right IPR policies, including the much-preferred royalty-free option. OASIS is a flexible SDO with light-weight processes that places minimal constraints on its TCs. OASIS allows ideas to flourish and lets implementers and industry decide what makes sense. If it gains traction it thrives, else it withers. That’s how it is supposed to work. There is no top-down planning or architecture that is imposed. We are fortunate to have an Executive Director, Francis Beland, who brings a wealth of diverse experiences. With Francis at the helm, we are presented with exciting opportunities to forge ahead and gain traction in new and different areas.

OASIS and its community are open, welcoming, and transparent—key aspects for successful collaborations. If you want standards with Open Source implementations it is important that the community and standards be open, transparent, and have no-cost and readily available specifications. At every stage in OASIS processes, specifications are freely and readily available with the ability for the public to comment. In addition, all the technical discussions, issues, and progress are made publicly. It is also important to point out that the entry point for initiating projects at OASIS is low and one can go from chartering a new TC to finalizing the standard in a short time, assuming that there is consensus in the community.

What are some reasons why companies, organizations, and individuals should bring their projects to OASIS?
Participating in OASIS offers a multitude of benefits. OASIS has pathways to get an OASIS standard to be an ISO, IEC, or an ITU standard, which is particularly valuable if you want regulations to be based on international standards. OASIS is an approved ISO/IEC JTC 1 PAS submitter organization, which means it has met all the criteria set by JTC 1. This allows OASIS to submit its standards to JTC 1 for approval by its members. Once approved, the standards get the ISO and IEC imprimatur.

If you look at the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, it encourages international standards as a basis for regulation—that means the big “I” standards: ISO, IEC, and ITU . OASIS has the ability to make its standards an ISO standard, an IEC standard, and/or an ITU standard, making this a significant advantage of participating in OASIS activities.

As a thirty-year-old organization there is a lot to talk about. From ebXML, ODF, UBL, DocBook, XACML, and SAML, to the various current security-related standards and projects, OASIS is a mature and proven organization that allows both open standards and open source to work well together. This is not easy if you think about the agreements that you need to have in place, for example, to deal with IPR issues. OASIS allows one to do that through Open Projects. Add to that the openness, transparency, royalty-free IPR and lightweight developer friendly processes and you have an organization that should be on everyone’s list for collaboration.

Do you have an impact story regarding your work in open source or open standards, or work that you’ve done at OASIS?
While I’ve been on the OASIS Board since 2021, I got involved in OASIS in 2003 working on various XML-based Web services standards (WS-RM, WS-RX, WS-TX, WSRF and WSN). Around 2006 I got involved in the Service Component Architecture effort (SCA-Assembly, SCA-Policy, SCA-BPEL, SCA-J, and SCA-Bindings) including the related OpenCSA Member Section. I was also involved in bringing Web Services Interoperability work to OASIS and was involved in the WS-I BRSP work and its associated WS-I Member Section and its Steering Committee. In 2012, I was one of the proposers for the CAMP TC, which was an early attempt to bring standards to cloud computing. I ended being its main editor and later its chair.

What trends or changes do you see in the industry that are most exciting?
Globally, various jurisdictions are worried about their citizens’ data and their location. There are concerns around security, privacy, and data locality. There is a possibility of fragmentation of approaches taken around the world. Standards can help address this and OASIS can position itself as a leader in this space. I think Francis Beland has some great ideas regarding OASIS’ future. There is a need for standards in several verticals, OASIS should target some of them; perhaps health care and health informatics could be a start. Globally we have a lot of challenges with respect to climate change and issues around ESG (environmental, social & governance) and AI. Several technologies could play a role in this space. For example, ensuring that supply chains adhere to specific ESG related standards is just one example among many.

Can you tell us about a role model you’ve had in your career?
There are far too many to list here and I’m afraid I’m going to miss mentioning someone. But all of them have taught me to become more curious. Some of them have taught me how to take the “forest view” and look at things strategically, especially as it applies to my role as a Board member. They have also taught me how to collaborate better, transforming it to a win-win situation, and more importantly how to make the world slightly better every day.

Best piece of advice that you’ve received so far?
It is always a group effort and one can achieve anything if they are willing to give the credit to someone else. As someone who focuses on collaboration, this advice has served me well.

What’s a fun fact about you?
I like to run and cross-country ski. I’ve run three marathons (so far) and several half-marathons. I find that running gives me time and space to relax and think. I like training for a race more than the actual race. My long weekend runs are just about unwinding, endorphins, and the pleasure of being outside being physically active after being in front of a screen all the time. One other fun fact about me is that I play a percussion instrument called the tabla, which is used in Indian classical music. I’m not very good at it, but it is great fun to listen and play it.