Standards up for Review

ebXML specs submitted to quality process

Boston, Mass., and Geneva  March 28, 2001  Global standards for B2B e-commerce took another step toward fruition Wednesday as two organizations charged with shepherding the standards-creation process announced that all ebXML specifications have been submitted for quality review.

ebXML is an international initiative established by the United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS, a non-profit standards group) in late 1999 with a mandate to undertake an 18-month program of work to research and identify the technical basis upon which the global implementation of XML (Extensible Markup Language) can be standardized.

The goal of ebXML is to facilitate open trade between organizations, regardless of size, by enabling XML to be used in a consistent manner to exchange electronic business data.

The specifications submitted for review are the result of more than a year's work by organizations and standards bodies around the world. The complete body of ebXML specifications defining business process methodology, core components, messaging, registry/repository, security, technical architecture and trading partner agreements are expected to be ratified in May 2001.

"We advise everyone involved with developing electronic business solutions to become part of the ebXML process by downloading these specifications now," said Klaus-Dieter Naujok of Netfish Technologies, chair of ebXML and a member of the UN/CEFACT Steering Group. "More and more suppliers are coming forward to announce their plans to implement ebXML-compliant products based on these specifications."

The ebXML Messaging Services Specification integrating the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP, a technology developed by Microsoft, IBM and others) is among the new specifications submitted to the ebXML review process. The effort to integrate SOAP into ebXML began just five weeks ago.

"We maintained an aggressive pace for developing ebXML because we knew the industry needed this kind of standardized framework as soon as possible," explained Dr. Robert Sutor of IBM, vice chair of ebXML and a member of the OASIS Board of Directors. "The specifications that are available now testify to the cooperative effort that has gone into the initiative."

Today's announcement followed the ebXML proof-of-concept demonstration by suppliers at the XML One conference in London last week. The suppliers  including Bowstreet, Btrade, Commerce One, Documentum, Fujitsu, IBM, IPNet, Killdara, Netfish/Iona, Sun Microsystems and XML Global with support from Interwoven, Cisco, NTT Communications, Savvion, Sterling Commerce, TIE, Viquity and XMLSolutions  collaborated to simulate a global, electronic business trading network using publicly available ebXML specifications. Many of these companies also issued public statements regarding their intentions to implement ebXML-compliant products in the near future.

For an in-depth look at where B2B standards are headed, read The Net Best Thing column in the June issue of iSource Business, available on newsstands May 22.