Covisint exchange vows it will support ebXML

Less than a month after the 1.0 version of ebXML was ratified by the OASIS and UN/CEFACT standards bodies, the infant business-to-business standard has gained key support from Covisint, the online marketplace formed by the nation's Big Three automakers.

Covisint LLC, in Southfield, Mich., last week announced that it will make the electronic-business XML specifications a central component of its automotive trading community.

Jeff Cripps, director of industry relations at Covisint, said executives at the exchange view ebXML as a critical component in helping the company form a truly global and open approach toward conducting e-commerce.

"We're looking for an invoice that can be used across industries," Cripps said. "There's a lot of these common processes which pretty much everyone in every industry can agree upon, and we think they're really getting at the heart of that."

Last month, Covisint took part in an ebXML "proof of concept" presentation in Vienna that featured demonstrations of functions such as exchanging and routing documents, uploading and downloading catalogs, and submitting purchasing orders. Cripps said the success of that effort helped convince Covisint that the standard is one worth pursuing. "We've got to pound a stake in the ground and move forward here," he said. "And this is the stake we've chosen."

Covisint might have the power to move a lot of businesses with it. Founded by General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG, the exchange and its principals have a lot of clout in the US$300 billion automotive supply chain.

"It's absolutely a significant step for ebXML," said Laura Walker, executive director of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), which helped develop ebXML.

Cripps noted that Covisint has also been following earlier business-to-business standards by the Open Applications Group (OAG) and the XML Common Business Library (XCBL) and plans to urge those groups to dovetail their efforts with ebXML. In April, RosettaNet, which has been a popular business-to-business standard in the high-tech industry, promised to merge its messaging protocols with ebXML.

"If [the OAG and XCBL] keep going down separate paths, we're not going to end up at a global standard for messaging and document exchange," Cripps said.

He added that Covisint technology partner Commerce One Inc. played a major role in introducing the exchange to ebXML. Commerce One is currently in the process of building an ebXML gateway into its online marketplace software.

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More about Commerce OneCovisintDaimlerChryslerFord MotorGatewayHolden- General MotorsOAGOpen Applications GroupOrganization for the Advancement of Structured Information StandardsRosettaNet

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