Vitria pushing a value chain markup language

Integration vendor Vitria Technology Inc. last Wednesday unveiled what it is calling an XML-based set of documents and vocabularies to facilitate business-to-business collaboration throughout the value chain, which consists of enterprises, partners, customers, and the supply chain.

VCML (Value Chain Markup Language), as the technology is known, is a common approach to describing business documents in an XML format that retains the structure and business terms with the documents.

Although VCML has not officially been submitted to a standards body, Vitria is calling it an "industry-agreed-to set of documents and vocabularies for business-to-business," said Daryn Walters, vice president of VCML solutions at Vitria, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

"The approach many consortiums and companies have taken is to start from scratch," Walters said. Since the industry, as a whole, has spent the past 30 years defining terms for collaboration, Walters added that Vitria is looking to tap into that knowledge base, rather than rewriting it for XML.

By launching the VCML Web site, Walters continued, Vitria is hoping to "break down one of the major barriers of b-to-b collaboration: the lack of common semantics."

Vitria is hoping that companies will visit, analyze, and test the content of the VMCL Web site, www.vcml.org.

"We have a message format that won't compromise the existing infrastructures," Walters said.

The Washington-based Aerospace Industry Association has been working with a VCML-like methodology for some time now, trying to solve some issues relating to EDI (electronic data interchange), according to Bob Moore, co-chairman of the enterprise e-commerce working group.

"We realized XML would provide a great advantage in connectivity over the Internet that EDI didn't have," Moore said, adding that VCML enables AIA to use its EDI infrastructure. "We think this is the next step in how the evolution [of b-to-b collaboration] will go."

Vitria's Walters said that VCML is not designed to replace other business-to-business standards.

"We are absolutely not trying to compete with ebXML [e-business XML], RosettaNet, or the others. We're in no position, nor is it our primary business, to go and create a standard," he added.

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