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Subject: Article about ebXML & Steel 24x7

Full text:

"Sending an unmistakeable message
by David Longworth
May 28th, 2003

An e-business messaging protocol that is helping enterprises migrate
from EDI to XML could become an essential ingredient of web services

For all the current hoopla about web services, the dominant standard in
most industries for exchanging business documents electronically is
still the pre-Internet e-commerce standard of EDI. Users have made
significant investments in EDI software and skills, and they know they
can rely on the technology.


The recommended path for EDI users embarking on that migration is
through adopting the ebXML standard for e-business data, jointly
developed by the UN body that oversees EDI and by e-business standards
organization OASIS. Because it includes support for EDI in its messaging
protocols, ebXML can provide a trusted migration path into XML and web
services for conservative users. 

As STEEL24-7 has discovered, it can also help plug an embarrassing gap
in the web services standards stack, by contributing a mature,
vendor-neutral messaging standard that adds security and reliability to
the core web services message format of SOAP. "ebXML was the only
standard that provides the features we were looking for. There were no
alternatives," says Tholen. "Web services bodies are working on
reliability and security but the specs are not ready yet and they are
not interoperability tested." 


Reliability layers
Although STEEL24-7 uses ebMS within an ebXML environment, the messaging
standard can also be used independently. Proponents argue that its
maturity as a finished specification for high-volume e-business makes it
an ideal candidate to rectify the current lack of a standard for
reliable messaging in the web services stack, where rival initiatives
such as WS-Reliability and WS-ReliableMessaging are still jockeying for

"You need several levels of reliability," says Jean-Jacques Dubray,
chief architect at Eigner Precision Lifecycle Management, based in
Waltham, Massachusetts, whose software enables manufacturers to exchange
product engineering data with their designers and component suppliers.
"The web services camp does not yet understand these levels of
protocols, they only understand transport-level reliability." 

Within the multi-layered ebXML standard framework, ebMS forms the
transport layer, which fulfils the base-level reliability requirement of
ensuring that a message reaches its destination. Other elements of ebXML
add further layers of reliability, such as, explains Dubray, confirming
that the message was in a valid format and thus intelligible to the
receiver ("structural reliability"), and that it was processed without
errors ("substantive reliability"). 

Anders TholÚn
Ferrologic AB
Steel 24-7: +32 2 334 2407 (Brussels)
Mobile:     +46 70 787 6787
e-mail:     anders.tholen@ferrologic.com


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