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Last modified: December 13, 2001
BIC Workgroup for XML-based eBusiness Standard Convergence

[October 26, 2001] Chaired by Dr. Jackson He of Intel Corporation, the Business Internet Consortium's Workgroup for XML-based eBusiness Standard Convergence is "incorporating customer requirements to develop a generic XML-based standards reference stack and best practice guidelines for B2B processes, as well as a roadmap for businesses to migrate to the stack."

XML Convergence Workgroup Description:

Although the promise of XML as providing easy, affordable, interoperable B2B solutions has its merit, the current reality is that XML's numerous and diverse 'standards' make it impossible to piece it together into one, functioning solution stack. This working group proposes to bring clarity by defining the generic layers and the corresponding recommended XML standards of a complete B2B, XML-based solution stack. The goals are to define a best-of breed XML solution stack that is standardized, comprehensive, and interoperable and develop an implementation path.

Deliverables: To achieve these goals the working group will produce: (1) Definition of the generic layers of the stack in support of business requirements. This stack will describe discrete layers of functionality required to meet most B2B interactions. (2) A map of existing and emerging XML standards to each layer (3) A roadmap that enables businesses to adopt short term solutions while migrating towards the long term standard stack (4) Proof of concept solutions to showcase and lead businesses to the standard stack.

From the 2001-06 announcement: "The Business Internet Consortium, an open-industry group formed to develop cross-industry eBusiness implementation guidelines has announced that RosettaNet joined the Consortium to help drive XML standard convergence activities in the industry. RosettaNet's membership pairs the efforts of these two leading eBusiness consortia to effectively promote supply chain interoperability. The Business Internet Consortium XML-based eBusiness Standard Convergence Workgroup is incorporating customer requirements to develop a generic XML-based standards reference stack and best practice guidelines for B2B processes, as well as a roadmap for businesses to migrate to the stack. The Workgroup expects to make recommendations to various standards bodies, such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and OASIS..."

XML-based eBusiness Standards Convergence Workgroup White Papers. The principal goal of the XML Convergence Workgroup in phase 1 was to develop "a conceptual model that describes the architectural components needed for B2B Automation. The goal was to define such a conceptual model and make it credible to describe the realities of today's business environment, and what needs to happen in the future to drive continued success in the B2B Automation space. Input from various expert sources resulted in several iterations of reconciliation and modifications to the model. The results are documented in the "High Level Conceptual Model for B2B Integration" white paper and supporting case studies. Three case studies from the member companies [Intel, RosettaNet, Ford Motor Company] link their current implementation with the conceptual model and enforce its validity. The point of these case studies is to show that the conceptual model is not just a collection of colorful 3D boxes stacked together with creative names. They actually relate to real systems in production."

BIC Overview: The Business Internet Consortium is "an open industry group comprised of leading e-Business technology providers and end users. The mission of the Business Internet Consortium is to accelerate the transition to e-Business. To achieve this mission, the Consortium will serve as an open forum for the exchange of ideas, provide architectural direction and recommend standards and best practices. Although the Internet brings with it many advances in convenience it also brings confusion for many vendors and customers. There is information overload, rapidly emerging technologies, limited scalability, and too-complex solutions. The Business Internet Consortium provides an avenue for customer input and influence on e-Business solutions, and allows multiple vendors to come together to efficiently address these customer issues."

Summaries from the XML Convergence Workgroup Phase 1 white papers:

High-Level Conceptual Model for B2B Integration. Business Internet Consortium (BIC) XML Convergence Workgroup. Version: 1.0. 5 October 2001. 41 pages. By Jackson He, Pete Wenzel, Pat O'Sullivan, Steve Agritelley, Colin Hulme, and Tim Thomasma. "This document is to be used as a high-level architecture guideline for Business-to-Business (B2B) integration. It will serve as a framework to collect customer requirements and analyze current B2B implementations. The requirements and architectural gaps identified could then be fed into B2B standard bodies to improve future B2B standard definitions. It could also be used as a blueprint for B2B customers and vendors as they plan for implementations and develop roadmaps for future B2B systems. The focus of this document is on high-level components of both enabling technologies and business processes for B2B automation. This is not an architecture description for direct implementation, and does not address the details of the logical and physical models, or implementation details for each layer...The purpose of this conceptual model is to provide a framework for B2B customers, vendors, and standard bodies alike to have a common view of what it takes to develop automated B2B solutions." [cache]

Summary of Phase 1 Deliverables. Business Internet Consortium (BIC) XML Convergence Workgroup. Version: 1.0. 5 October 2001. 12 pages. Gaps and issues: "As the case studies indicated, there are several areas that need improvement in terms of better standards specifications and adoption of more loosely coupled and flexible architectures. It is also apparent that several layers have multiple contenders, which could be opportunities for convergence. Traversing the model from bottom up, we can see that the first opportunity for convergence is at the messaging layer. RosettaNet has committed to supporting ebXML TRP for its new messaging layer to replace RNIF, or in other words, future RNIF will be based on ebXML Messaging, which is converged and built on top of SOAP. There are still needs to enhance security and reliable messaging on top of today's ebXML Messaging. This is something the XML Convergence Workgroup should help driving in the coming months. Other opportunities of convergence appear in the Registry, Repository, and Business Process Description Language layers. The case studies indicate the needs for clear definitions of these layers. The XML Convergence Workgroup should focus on collecting requirements and developing more use cases for these layers as well, in addition to the Messaging layer improvements noted above. In the coming months, the XML Convergence Workgroup will use the definitions of the conceptual model and the gaps identified in the case studies to clearly define customer requirements and document best practices to improve current implementations, while waiting for the standards to improve..."

Ford Motor Company Case Study Version: 1.0 5 October 2001. 16 pages. ['Describes Ford Motor's current B2B implementation, which is based on the OAGI specification and other technologies. It shows a strong relationship of Ford Motor's implementation with the conceptual model.'] "We expect applications to provide open standard interfaces. We use the OAGIS compliant interfaces that are provided in some of the business application software packages that we have purchased. We find that leveraging open standard interfaces implemented natively by business application software vendors in their products is the low cost, high value approach for A2A and B2B integration. In order to enable the applications we've built ourselves to participate in XML messaging collaborations, we build new interfaces on them to emit and receive the standard XML documents we use. It is relatively easy to write the programs to do this. Now that the latest versions of the database products we use come with tools for reading and writing information from XML documents into relational tables, this task is even easier..."

RosettaNet Case Study. Version: 1.0. 5 October 2001. 19 pages. ['Documents the current RosettaNet architecture components and connections with the conceptual model. It is an instantiation of the model with their current, generalized RosettaNet implementation.'] "RosettaNet is an XML-based protocol for automated B2B transactions among business partners. The XML Document Type Definition (DTD) is the foundation of all RosettaNet business document formats. Several XML capabilities are leveraged in the current business messages that are not supported in the DTD. This requires that a human-readable message guideline also be provided, external to the DTD. The message guideline captures the complete message structure, as well as code lists, additional validation logic and constraints, and specific cardinality requirements. XML schema has added functionality that should enable a machine-readable structure in the future... Currently, RosettaNet uses its own Messaging Service, the RosettaNet Implementation Framework (RNIF) Core Specification, currently published as version 2.0. At the heart of the RNIF 2.0 Core Specification is the RosettaNet Business Message, a transfer protocol-independent container that packages together the business payload, associated header components, and an optional digital signature, all of which must be exchanged as a unit between two endpoints of a RosettaNet interaction. RNIF 2.0 specifies the use of the MIME multipart/related type for the basic enveloping construct to bundle the different elements of a RosettaNet Business Message. In addition, the S/MIME v2 multipart/signed data type is used for digital signatures, and the application/pkscs7-mime data type for content encryption..."

Intel Case Study. How Intel Implemented RosettaNet. Version: 1.0. 5 October 2001. 15 pages. ['Describes Intel's specific implementation of RosettaNet. Intel added its own touch to the backend integration, which is not specified by RosettaNet. It also worked with vendors to interpret the RosettaNet specifications in the context of Intel's business environment. Again, this case study shows that the conceptual model is a true reflection of components needed for B2B Automation.'] "Because RosettaNet does not have a specification for the backend (aka 'private') integration portion of B2B automation (out of the scope for RosettaNet core functionality), Intel designed the private process architecture based on its current EAI infrastructure, which includes a common Messaging Bus, Message Routers, and Process Flow Translation and Coordination Engines (Process Coordinator)... The third party RosettaNet Engine product used by Intel is Java based. JDBC is used for connections with databases. The common Messaging Bus is used for communications between all pieces of the implementation... Intel constrains XML interchanges to DTDs provided by RosettaNet organization. These DTDs, and updates, are integrated into the RosettaNet Engine product. Messaging Services are based on the vendor implementation of RNIF 1.1 and RNIF 2.0, which is based on a proprietary messaging protocol by the vendor. Internally message reliability and re-usability (by multiple private processes for example) is provided based on the messaging protocol. Intel has worked with the vendor to define the RosettaNet Engine enhancements especially in the area of data re-usability and scalability to handle message volumes. Internally messages are represented in either XML. To some extent, this can be modified to suit the needs of the application end-points. Externally, all data adheres to strict RosettaNet XML definitions..."


  • Business Internet Consortium web site
  • BIC Workgroups
  • XML-based eBusiness Standard Convergence Workgroup
  • XML Convergence Workgroup white papers
  • BIC FAQ Document
  • BIC Member list
  • [December 13, 2001] "Driving XML Standards: Convergence and Interoperability." By Jackson He (Intel Corporation; Chair of the Business Internet Consortium XML Convergence WG). Presentation delivered at the "Electronic Business Interoperability Summit," December 6 - 7, 2001, Orlando, Florida, USA. 29 pages. This is one of eight presentations now available online. "Convergence Principles: (1) The lower the layer, the bigger the impact of deviation and duplication - converge from the bottom up; (2) Divide and conquer, each layer supports all those above it -- identify common functionalities converge layer by layer; (3) Not all layers are converge-able, however, broad agreement at lower layers allows effective diversity at the top layer; (4) If cannot converge, make them interoperable; (5) Continue looking for convergence opportunities, driving toward more converged horizontal standards, while allowing flexibilities to meet diverged business needs; (6) End-to-end solution is the key -- interoperability between multiple standards is needed. Convergence Strategies: (1) Be business requirement-driven, rather than technology driven [End-to-end customer requirements; Focus on what is good for customer, good for e-business, good for small and medium size businesses] (2) Coordination / Collaboration amongst standard bodies [ Division of labor based on a common framework / taxonomy definition, e.g., Interop Summit, Collaboration MOU; Building on-going coordination and collaboration mechanisms, e.g., Interop Summit, Common Taxonomy Registry, etc.; Build joint compliance programs to insure interoperability at all layers]." The document includes a useful final section with "Definition of Terms." See also Alan Kotok's summit report. [cache]
  • Announcement 2001-06-18: "RosettaNet Joins Business Internet Consortium. Joint Effort to Coordinate Convergence Efforts Within the Business Internet Consortium XML Workgroup."
  • Announcement 2001-04-25: "Business Internet Consortium Proposes First Workgroups. Workgroups will remove barriers and accelerate the move to eBusiness."
  • [November 20, 2001] "BIC Drives B2B Automation With Agreement on XML Conceptual Model. Ford Motor Company, Intel, RosettaNet and Other e-Business Leaders Publish a Common Framework and Case Studies." - "The Business Internet Consortium, an open-industry group formed to accelerate the move to e-Business through industry collaboration, today announced the publication of the Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based e-Business conceptual model developed by the consortium's XML e-Business Standards Convergence Workgroup. The conceptual model calls out the recommended protocols, standards and implementations for e-Business. Ford Motor Company, Intel Corporation and RosettaNet provided case studies of their specific e-Business implementations, backing up the guidelines published by the Business Internet Consortium. RosettaNet is a leading XML standards body, with more than 400 member companies. Intel Corporation is a leading user of e-Business processes, conducting nearly $24 billion in online transactions in 2000. Ford Motor Company is a leading proponent of e-Business processes among automobile manufacturers and vendors. The case studies give e-Business managers and developers a quick way to survey the common implementations among existing e-Business leaders. The Ford Motor Company case study details how the company collaborates with hundreds of suppliers using XML-based technologies. The Intel case study describes the company's implementation of RosettaNet technologies for managing relationships with hundreds of trading partners. The RosettaNet case study summarizes the RosettaNet Implementation Framework and Partner Interface Processes and their relationship with the Business Internet Consortium conceptual model. 'There are more than 250 iterations of XML for various industries and applications,' said Terry Spires, Intel marketing manager and Business Internet Consortium Chairman. 'So many standards have been proposed that it's difficult for managers to pick the winners. The Business Internet Consortium worked with industry leading companies and standards bodies to develop these recommendations. And, with the support of the case studies, the conceptual model is not just a collection of colorful 3D boxes stacked together with creative names. They actually relate to real systems in production.' Going forward, the XML e-Business Standards Convergence Workgroup will share requirements and identify architectural gaps with standards bodies including OAGI, RosettaNet, OASIS, W3C and UN/CEFACT. Additionally, the group is considering studying how Web Services technology could be more effectively used in B2B automation..."

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