SATA-IO lays down specifications that all SATA devices must follow. There are various other bodies, committees and sub-committees; it’s SATA-IO that manufacturers turn to to be certain what they should be making, and users turn to to be certain that a device will be compatible.
Plugfests (also known as plugtests or plug tests) are one way – sometimes formal and sometimes informal – that compatibility is tested and confirmed. In its simplest form, a plugfest may simply involve two companies getting together to plug, for example, the cable of the one into the socket of the other. (Apologies if this seems to be straying into areas normally left alone by polite people). More formal plugfests are arranged by various bodies and trade associations.
For example, what is now the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and was originally the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) regularly arranges plugfests to test the interoperability of High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) devices with data sink and electronic signal repeaters. HDMI transfers digital video and audio signals to PCs, televisions, video projectors and the like and one can see that the compatibility of such devices is of great interest to an organization charged with protecting consumer interests.
The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) arranges similar opportunities for manufacturers to demonstrate compatibility with VESA’s own DisplayPort interface that – among other things – allows video sources to communicate with PC monitors.
The SCSI Trade Association’s plugfests are particularly important because SCSI (pronounced scuzzy), or Small Computer System Interface, was originally expected to replace SATA but has not succeeded in doing so and now exists happily alongside it.
USB device vendors arrange plugfests of their own and the OpenDoc Society arranges a number in conjunction with the various other bodies concerned with the multiplication, propagation and spread of OpenDocuments (a file format designed to encourage the spread of office application programs based on HTML to reduce or remove dependence on proprietary software such as Microsoft Office.