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Subject: RE: Re: [ebxml-mktg] RE: Gartner and ebXML - distribution of thearticle

At 01:21 PM 9/11/02, Hickman, Michael (GXS) wrote:
"I agree completely with David that the ebXML set of specifications is modular enough and open enough to be vastly more accessible to SMEs and small-scale EDI users..."

Who says that "openness" and "modularity" make *anything* more accessible to anyone, let alone SMEs?

The original ebXML specs do.  (www.ebxml.org/specs/ebREQ.pdf)  Do you think we were wrong? 

    (1) Openness is essential to SME accessibility.  It permits easy migration of user data (as opposed to locked-in proprietary formats), which in turn permits lower cost integration with existing legacy systems and legacy data structures.
    By way of example, XML as a representation of data is more broadly useful than an Oracle or MS SQL7 file.  This is *not* a critique of the use of proprietary software:  rather, any database program that exports into universally transportable *formats* (like XML) is better than one than cannot.

    (2) Modularity is essential to SME accessibility.  E-commerce and EDI architecture require multiple interlocking functions.  Any "solution" that requires an all-or-nothing preemptive stack change is more expensive, more disruptive, and farther out of reach than one which permits gradual migration layer by layer. 
    By way of example, when migrating from 1980's EDI over VANs, some people first normalized to RNIF or OAG BODs, over the same VANs, and then started sending them over SOAP. Some kept their X12 or EDIFACT docs, first migrated the transport from VAN to AS1 or SOAP, are still transporting EDI docs, and will upgrade their business document payload later.  This flexibility of upgrade paths is good, and requires modularity.
    Also, having a neutral taxonomy of the necessary layers is essential for buyers (SMEs) to cut though overbroad function claims from sellers.  Users need to be able to see clearly in this smoky and mirrored space.  Modularity helps.  

Nothing I've seen about ebXML makes it more accessible than any other technology. What will make this technology accessible is when vendors package the technology into an easy to use product that doesn't require a huge staff or specialized technical skills to run, and allows companies to quickly get integrated with their trading partners.

    Yes it will help when mass market vendors ship.  Usually this takes a while, for any new technology.  In my view, the time needed to make a system working, open and functional is worthwhile, because it promotes accessibility of e-commerce.  In contrast,  strongly proprietary, insufficiently functional, or dysfunctional systems do not.  Rather, they suck up all the user's purchasing power, pre-empt other solutions, lock in the buyer, and then may fail to deliver, leaving necessary tasks unfulfilled.  
    After two years we are just evolving a bunch of big name betas.  How much faster did you expect this to occur?  The only way to move faster is to pump out nonfunctional vaporware or premature & incomplete "standards", to try keep the market to ourselves, and push all the implementation problems on the early adopters.  I know some people who do this well;  there aren't many of them at ebXML.  Sorry.

Regards   Jamie Clark

~ James Bryce Clark
~ American Bar Association Business Law Subcommittee on E-Commerce
~ 1 310 293 6739  jbc@lawyer.com

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