What is ebXML?
Is ebXML intended to be a formal standard?
What is the business need for creating ebXML?
Why have XML as a basis?
Is ebXML just business-to-business or can it be applied to business-to-consumer trading?
How does ebXML address the needs of the small-medium size enterprises?
What is the relationship between ebXML and other XML initiatives?
The Business Advantage
Why should businesses adopt ebXML?
How can ebXML reduce costs?
How can ebXML enhance competitive advantage?
How will ebXML affect relationships with trading partners?
How can ebXML extend electronic business to new and existing trading partners?
How does ebXML affect specific industries?
How does ebXML impact current EDI investments?
How does ebXML support international electronic business?
How does ebXML facilitate convergence of different XML-based implementation frameworks?
How does ebXML affect an existing IT infrastructure?
What development environments does ebXML support?
Are there royalty fees for the use of ebXML?
How is ebXML maintained?
How can interested parties participate in ebXML?
What's the best source for information on ebXML?
Q: What is ebXML?
A: ebXML is a modular suite of specifications that enables enterprises of any size and in any geographical location to conduct business over the Internet. Using ebXML, companies now have a standard method to exchange business messages, conduct trading relationships, communicate data in common terms and define and register business processes.
Q: Is ebXML intended to be a formal standard (submitted to a standards body)?
A: Backed by UN/CEFACT and OASIS, ebXML offers a framework that will become an international standard, most likely under the auspices of UN/CEFACT, one of the four de jure standards bodies in the world. Even before ebXML becomes a formal standard, it will likely become a de facto standard as industry groups, individual trading partners and e-business solution providers adopt it.
Q: What is the business need for creating ebXML?
A: Up until now, the technology available for most businesses to exchange data was electronic data interchange or EDI, which made significant contributions to productivity and inventory control. Many companies, however, find EDI expensive and difficult to implement. ebXML, using the economies of scale presented by the Internet, breaks through these obstacles.
The conventions established by ebXML are available publicly. These conventions encourage software developers to build packaged applications based on the common structure and syntax of ebXML messages and dramatically lower the cost of exchanging business data.
Q: Why have XML as a basis?
A: One of the technical foundations of ebXML is the Extensible Markup Language (XML) that allows parties to exchange structured data, like the information kept in databases, over the Internet. XML is an open and freely available document from the World Wide Web Consortium and has the support of the world's leading technology companies. XML also supports Unicode that enables the display and exchange of most of the world's written languages.
Q: Is ebXML just business-to-business or can it be applied to business-to-consumer trading?
A: ebXML supports messages and services among businesses as well as between businesses and consumers. For business-to-consumer exchanges, however, the specifications define only the services and architecture on the business end, not customer screens or interactions.
Q: How does ebXML address the needs of the small-medium size enterprises?
A: ebXML's requirements begin with the objective to promote the use of shrink-wrapped, plug-and-play software to support its messages. By keeping that focus paramount, as well as taking advantage of the economies of scale presented by the Internet, ebXML's design and technical architecture remain within the reach of smaller businesses.
Q: What is the relationship between ebXML and other XML initiatives?
A: Few if any other XML-based initiatives have tried to accomplish what ebXML does. Other e-business specifications address single industries or a specific set of business functions. Many of these initiatives now support ebXML and integrate the specifications into their own work.
RosettaNet, a consortium of more than 400 companies in information technology, electronic components and semiconductor manufacturing, plans to integrate support for the ebXML Messaging Services Specification in future releases of RosettaNet's Implementation Framework (RNIF). The Global Commerce Initiative, which represents manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods, chose to base their new Internet protocol standard for trading exchanges and B2B communications on ebXML.
Other industry organizations, such as the Automotive Industry Action Group, Health Level Seven, Open Applications Group, Open Travel Alliance, SWIFT and formal international and North American EDI standards bodies, have also been active participants in the ebXML initiative.
The Business Advantage
Q: Why should businesses adopt ebXML?
A: ebXML offers businesses of all sizes a common message structure and syntax for exchanging business data over data networks like the Internet using XML. Without ebXML, companies face the prospect of interacting with multiple vocabularies, most focusing on specific industries or functions that cannot talk to each other.
Q: How can ebXML reduce costs?
A: ebXML enables businesses to exchange XML-based messages and offer data services over networks with any other businesses. Companies that use EDI now, will likely find ebXML software much less expensive and easier to implement. For companies that use paper-based forms, the staff time saved through using business data exchange will be even greater.
Q: How can ebXML enhance competitive advantage?
A: Companies that implement ebXML will find it easier to use networks for exchanging data with current and potential trading partners. They will be able to add new trading partners much more easily and open up new markets with less effort than before.
Q: How will ebXML affect relationships with trading partners?
A: Those suppliers and customers with whom companies now use EDI will likely see little change at first, since systems based on EDI will continue operating successfully. For those trading partners not using standards-based data exchanges, however, ebXML offers a chance to begin taking advantage of the improvements in business processes and productivity that these exchanges offer.
Q: How can ebXML extend electronic business to new and existing trading partners?
A: ebXML includes specifications for public repositories of industry business processes, messages, and common data objects that companies need to get started exchanging data, as well as to register their capabilities to engage in electronic business. Companies can use these registries to access the stored data objects and find new suppliers or customers with the ability to provide electronic messages or services.
For existing trading partners - for example, those using EDI - ebXML offers a way to increase the level of support or service while maintaining compatibility with your existing EDI investment.
Q: How does ebXML affect specific industries?
A: If an industry already has agreed on an XML vocabulary, it may need to change its specified message structure to meet the requirements of ebXML. Many industry consortia, however, support ebXML because of its ability to provide interoperability.
If an industry does NOT have an XML vocabulary, then it can begin implementing one based on ebXML without retrofitting to a previous version.
Q: How does ebXML impact current EDI investments?
A: Companies with systems set up for business data exchange will probably have fewer changes in business processes than those starting from scratch. ebXML builds on the lessons learned from EDI, particularly the need to identify trading partners and messages and account for all message traffic. The best practices established for effective EDI apply to ebXML. ebXML also identifies common data objects, called core components, that allow companies to interchange standard EDI data with XML vocabularies compliant with the ebXML specifications.
Q: How does ebXML support international electronic business?
A: By taking advantage of the Internet and other available networks, ebXML opens up business to many more potential trading partners, in more places in the world than before. It provides a single framework for exchanging business data anywhere in the world that has access to these networks.
Q: How does ebXML facilitate convergence of
different XML-based implementation frameworks?
A: The common message structure and syntax of ebXML encourages industries with XML vocabularies to adjust their efforts to meet ebXML requirements. Companies in these industries gain interoperability with other industries as a result of this effort. No business communicates solely within its supply chain. All companies need to exchange messages with those outside their industry boundaries as well as within them.
Q: How does ebXML affect an existing IT infrastructure?
A: If a company does not yet exchange electronic business data, ebXML means making the connections to send and receive these messages, authenticating other parties, editing the contents of the messages, and mapping the data to internal systems. If a company already uses EDI or other business data exchange protocols, it may have already established these facilities but may still need to write new routines for ebXML messages. We expect packaged software to make these functions transparent to the end-users, but they will still need to get done.
Q: What development environments does ebXML support?
A: ebXML was designed to be independent of equipment, software platforms or communication networks. As long as a system supports standard Internet transport protocols and XML, it should also support ebXML.
Q: Are there royalty fees for the use of ebXML?
A: OASIS provides ebXML specifications free of charge. There are no royalties or fees associated with the use of the ebXML specifications. Openness of the ebXML specifications is a requirement in order to encourage adoption.
Q: How is ebXML maintained?
A: Work on ebXML continues within OASIS, where OASIS ebXML Technical Committees are actively advancing each of the standards, in cooperation with the OASIS ebXML Implementation, Interoperability, and Conformance Technical Committee and the OASIS ebXML Joint Committee.
Q: How can interested parties participate in ebXML?
A: Organizations or individuals interested in ebXML are encouraged to join OASIS.
Organizations interested in the ebXML business content (core components and messages, and business process models) may participate by becoming a member of UN/CEFACT.
Q: What's the best source for information on ebXML?
A: The ebXML website will continue to be the focal point for news, information (white papers, presentations) and support. Completed ebXML specifications and technical reports will be available for free download from this site.
Specific questions and comments on ebXML can be posted to the ebXML-DEV list.