Adoption of new ebXML standards inching forward

Efforts to create Electronic Business XML (ebXML) messaging standards took another step forward this week as the Open Applications Group Inc. (OAGI) said it will incorporate recently announced ebXML specifications into its existing business transaction standards.

In an announcement yesterday, the Atlanta-based group said it will incorporate the ebXML specifications into the 182 business transaction standards it currently uses. The move comes as ebXML tries to build momentum as a global e-commerce standard for computer-to-computer information exchange.

The creation of the new ebXML specifications is sponsored by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), a U.N. policy and technology group, and by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a nonprofit, international consortium that creates interoperable industry specifications based on public standards such as XML and SGML.

David Connelly, chief executive officer (CEO) of OAGI, said the ebXML standards could help businesses around the world by simplifying communications and transactions.

For years, much of the computer-to-computer business communications among the largest companies have been done using electronic data interchange (EDI) technologies for purchase orders, order confirmations and other transactions. But EDI is considered too complex and expensive for small- and mid-size businesses to implement.

EbXML is seen by advocates as a way to change that by providing a less expensive, standardized way for businesses to do business with each other.

"OAGI's decision to adopt ebXML is an exciting milestone and will do much to advance our mutual goal of interoperability," said Laura Walker, executive director of OASIS, in a statement. "OAGI was an active participant in the development of ebXML, and we welcome their support in furthering its implementation."

Last month, two EDI standards groups, the Accredited Standards Committee X12 and the UN/EDIFACT Working Group, announced that they would join the ebXML effort to establish a set of core components for global business-process integration (see story).

In May, the first ebXML standards were approved by OASIS and the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) (see story).

The specifications include a technical architecture, business process specification schema, registry services and messaging. The ebXML 1.0 standard was designed to be the online, easy-to-translate equivalent of EDI.

Much work still remains before ebXML will be ready for business use, however.

"We're looking at a world where there's going to be a convergence" of different data exchange systems, said William Zachmann, an analyst at Meta Group Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. "It's a complex cast of characters. Nobody can know for sure how this is all going to sort out."

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More about Meta GroupOpen Applications GroupOrganization for the Advancement of Structured Information StandardsUN/EDIFACT Working GroupUnited Nations

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