BEA sends b-to-b XML spec to standards group

In a bid to provide coordination for Web services and a model for defining and managing business-to-business interactions, BEA Systems Inc. submitted its proprietary business transaction protocol (BTP) technology to a standards body last week.

BEA also formed a technical committee to shepherd BTP through the open standards process.

"The protocol is responsible for managing the life cycle of a transaction and the events around such transactions," said Rocky Stewart, CTO of San Jose, Calif.-based BEA and chair of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a consortium for developing XML standards for e-business.

BTP allows complex XML message exchanges to be tracked and managed as loosely coupled "conversations" among businesses. BTP is but the latest specification to emerge around XML.

Fairfax, Va.-based webMethods, for example, in November announced the XKMS (XML key management specification), which enables the integration of digital signatures and data encryption into e-commerce applications.

The idea behind such specifications, said Kimberly Knickle, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston, is to support XML with a variety of functions so as to guarantee that it works well.

"All these things are focused on allowing more open communication," said Kevin Costello, a consultant at Arthur Andersen LLP, in Chicago. "It's one of the reasons that XML is a better answer than EDI [electronic data interchange]; it's more open and easier to translate."

Although several vendors, including IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Bowstreet Software Inc. have begun work on another similar specification, XAML (Transaction Authority Markup Language), BEA, rather than waiting, submitted the technology to OASIS. "[The other companies] didn't have their spec written yet, and we have a product already, so we decided we'd turn it over to the standards body," BEA's Stewart said.

The technology behind the specification is currently being used as the eXtended Open Collaboration Protocol (XOCP) for BEA's WebLogic Collaborate.

Boston-based OASIS will focus on developing a protocol that works with existing business messaging standards, specifically ebXML (electronic business XML) and RosettaNet. In addition, the work of the OASIS committee will extend beyond ebXML to such efforts as BizTalk, the XML data exchange initiative of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, Stewart added.

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