OASIS Blue Initiative

OASIS Energy Interoperation TC
OASIS Energy Market Information Exchange (eMIX) TC

OASIS is issuing the following white paper as a means to foster discussion on the role of open standards and sustainability. The consortium has also created a SmartGrid interest list for members and non-members. All interested parties are invited to provide input relevant to the issues raised by this paper. Its goal is to create a family of OASIS technical committees chartered to address the specific open standards needs of the energy community.

There is a growing, global awareness that we must develop new models for mindful use of resources: ones that support efficient, effective economic growth and enable rapid innovation in the most fundamental infrastructure of our lives. This development will occur via new markets that offer wider energy choices and greater personal autonomy. These markets will require a new language and new interfaces for efficient economic interaction.

The time to define and standardize such requirements is now.

OASIS, a non-profit international consortium, has been at the heart of information standards development since 1993. We have seen the standards devised at OASIS transform the business world through eCommerce and transform the office work world through document formats. One lesson is clear: standards have the power to ensure that all the economic actors—consumers, businesses and governments—can freely exchange knowledge and information consistently across transactions and systems.

The same innovation that drives eCommerce and the internet must be brought to bear on intelligent buildings and smart energy grids and producers so we can have the opportunity to do well by doing good.

This goal and this experience have prompted us to launch the OASIS Blue initiative.

Why Blue?

Few would disagree that Green is good. Yet Green is all too often associated with sacrifice and denial. Adam Werbach, former head of the Sierra Club, believes that real strides in sustainability will only be realized when we view our efforts in terms of business opportunities, not sacrifices. According to Werbach each decision and each transaction should be made mindful of price, purpose and process—and the benefits of economic growth can be guided by the ethos of sustainability. He named this new synthesis Blue, invoking the earth as seen by the astronauts.

The Blue approach builds on the sustainable, environmentally sensitive nature of the Green movement, extends the impact and broadens the appeal. Economic principles such as the value of greater efficiency, of reduced infrastructure cost, of more effective use of resources, and the benefits of economic growth are the guiding principles of Blue.


The future of smart energy operations in smart power grids and in smart buildings has much in common with the running and management of eCommerce enterprise systems. Each has similar needs for reliable, secure, and scalable infrastructure, and each requires embracing diversity to enable innovation.

The natural consequence of this alignment of technology and interest is OASIS Blue, an initiative for applying the lessons of e-commerce to the new world of distributed, interactive energy.

Consumers make many small personal decisions about energy use each day. The processes for energy use must be scalable and inexpensive. Energy decisions are at the core of lifestyle and personal values; they must be based on verifiable security while supporting privacy. The marketplace of energy includes many participants offering different prices and supporting different values; transparency and clean accounting must be at the core of decision-making and market clearing.

Informational interoperability is a core value of OASIS, and eCommerce has been a key focus of our work.

  • Our oBIX Technical Committee (TC) produces specifications for interacting with the smart buildings and with other energy using technologies.
  • Our Forest Industries TC works to facilitate the flow of information from forest managers to their customers.
  • Our pioneering eCommerce standards such as ebXML, BPEL, and UDDI, have empowered businesses and consumers to make better economic decisions, achieving efficiencies and driving innovation for the economy as a whole.
  • Our fine-grained security standards, including SAML, WS-Security, and XACML, enable highly scalable solutions that allow high confidence in who your partners are, who you're communicating with, and what authorization they have.

OASIS Blue brings together three seminal areas of standards work: energy, security, and transparency.

OASIS Blue Energy

The power grid's inability to negotiate and anticipate energy needs causes great inefficiencies in the generation and transmission of power.

OASIS Blue standards will empower energy consumers to negotiate the rates they get, the source and characteristics of their energy, and calculate the real cost of energy in the present and near future.

To truly respond to the grid, building systems must become responsive to their occupants. oBIX and other OASIS specifications will enable competitive development of software to mediate between building-based systems and the intelligent power grid. Open standards are the way to incorporate business needs, household needs, and other information into energy decisions in an interoperable manner,creating new markets.

With OASIS Blue, these markets will move beyond energy providers and operators controlling your business toward expanding the autonomy and service provided to energy users.

OASIS Blue Security

Security is not about locking the door, It is about responding in the right way at the right time to the right party. Good security facilitates genuine transactions while preventing pickpockets from joining the crowd. Working with any number of organizations, each with changing employees, delegated rights, and commercial relationships, will require federated identity management. The effective energy commerce envisioned by OASIS Blue Energy will require the fine-grained security that OASIS standards define.

At OASIS, we have security Technical Committees that are producing and have produced broadly used standards on every aspect of secure data exchange, from security frameworks to biometrics to digital signatures to security tokens and access management. These standards have already helped deliver the astonishing surge in eCommerce worldwide. These same standards, and whetever new standards are needed as Blue develops, will be the foundation upon which global, efficient energy markets will be built.

OASIS Blue Transparency

In order to make informed choices and to maintain trust, transactions must be transparent as well as secure. At OASIS, we have fostered standards that structure data exchange in a way that makes the history of the exchange accessible and available at any time to participants.

OASIS standards are used to track transactions transparently across multiple parties. Multiple stages of authorization flow across complex transaction streams; WS-Reliable Messaging tracks not only message delivery, but the receivers' understanding and acceptance; ebXML defines the interoperable approaches for working with diverse business partners; UBL is the common framework for business interactions.

The Blue energy buyer will want to know more about energy in the market, just as the Blue grocery shopper wants to know about the origins of and processes used to bring food into the grocery store.

Work is currently underway at OASIS to bring about this information-rich future.

OASIS Blue Values

Our values grow from our belief that applying successful eCommerce technologies will greatly improve the profits and efficiencies of our current economic growth model.

  • We need better tools to understand and to facilitate our economic decisions. One of these tools has already materialized: the Internet is catalyst to ever-more efficient markets and decision-making. Blue is lean.
  • We believe all standards should be truly cooperative and interoperable: OASIS has a proven track record of allowing people and companies to work together to build successful standards that solve problems and allow useful and broad interoperation. Blue is interoperable.
  • We believe all standards should be developed under a clear and well-defined process that all can read and understand. OASIS has such a process, which is constantly being reviewed for effectiveness. Blue is clear.
  • We believe all standards should be genuinely free. Completed OASIS standards are freely and publicly visible on the web. There are no fees to read and analyze OASIS standards. The licenses to implement are clearly stated. There are no surprises, no barriers to adoption and use. Blue is useable by all.
  • We believe all standards should be completely transparent: All OASIS Technical Committee work is freely visible on the web—all Technical Committee mailing lists, drafts, documents, and meeting minutes. There are no exceptions, no secrets, and no private committees. Blue is transparent.
  • We believe all standards should be open to all input: OASIS has a comments facility to allow absolutely anyone to comment on technical work, subject to a standard comment license so a Technical Committee can take your advice. Blue is open.

What next?

OASIS Blue is "a big tent." Whether one's interest in sustainability comes from a concern about climate change, energy security, resource depletion, national security, or just because is it the largest venture opportunity of our lifetimes, the challenges are the same. All of these agendas are advanced by getting the standards, the interfaces, and the interoperability work done soon. OASIS Blue is a big enough tent for anyone to come inside.

OASIS encourages all those interested in the role of open standards and sustainability to participate in OASIS Blue. We especially invite people representing:

  • energy providers,
  • developers of Grid-related applications or services
  • providers of eCommerce applications or services
  • experts in energy, building management, or eCommerce
  • government agencies involved in energy legislation and use
  • industry organizations working on standardization around sustainability
  • research institutes studying traditional and alternative energy sources

These participants will prioritize areas of standardization and build consensus on how to structure and charter the work within OASIS. To ensure your voice is heard in this most important dialogue, subscribe to the SmartGrid Interest Mailing List.

SmartGrid Interest Mailing List

OASIS has created a public discussion list to build consensus around the benefits of applying interoperable enterprise and eCommerce standards to smart power grids and articulate a way forward for the industry. Architectural and implementation issues will be explored, with specific focus on market interactions and interactions with smart buildings. Everyone is encouraged to view the list archive, subscribe and post to this list.