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OASIS Forges ebXML Technical Committees

Geneva's UN/CEFACT and Boston-based OASIS Thursday officially settled on three technical committees that will be responsible for overseeing a standard devised to facilitate online business processes.

Co-sponsors of the Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language Standard (ebXML), UN/CEFACT and OASIS said the committees signal the end to an 18-month development phase; to continue ebXML maintenance, OASIS has formed the ebXML Messaging TC, the ebXML Collaboration Protocol Profile and Agreement TC and the ebXML Implementation, Interoperability and Conformance TC. Members of the existing OASIS Registry/Repository TC have expanded their charter to embrace the ebXML Registry/Repository Specification.

ebXML specifications were created to provide a standard method for companies to exchange business messages, conduct trading relationships and better define business processes. Using ebXML, e-business clients can request services from e-business servers over any transport protocol, including SMTP and HTTP. OASIS and UN/CEFACT inked a final agreement on the standards in May.

Each group's responsibilities were documented thus by OASIS: the ebXML Messaging TC will attempt to advance ebXML's secure specification for exchanging electronic business transactions using the Internet; the ebXML Collaboration Protocol Profile and Agreement TC will continue its definition of how trading partners engage in e-business; the OASIS ebXML Implementation, Interoperability and Conformance TC will focus on implementation issues surrounding ebXML and provide guidelines to industry groups, vendors and users seeking to adopt the specifications; lastly, the existing ebXML Registry/Repository TC will advance XML registries, which list company capabilities in profiles that will help prospective business partners in finding one another.

For UN/CEFACT, the United Nations' body responsible for the technical development of e-business, the organization plans to form a working group for ebXML business process and core components in the near future. As per usual, OASIS and UN/CEFACT will manage ebXML Technical Architecture and Marketing Awareness functions.

"As more companies and standards bodies begin implementing ebXML, these OASIS TCs will work to further the consistent adoption of the specifications," said Laura Walker, executive director of OASIS. "The OASIS ebXML TCs will proactively engage with related activities in other forums, such as the W3C, and closely coordinate our efforts with UN/CEFACT."

The formation of the committees marks a degree of closure for OASIS, which had taken issue with the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) in the past year for its support of a similar e-business exchange standard created by Microsoft Corp., called Simple Object Access Protocol, or SOAP.

In February, OASIS softened its resistance to SOAP by agreeing to integrate SOAP 1.1 and SOAP with attachments specifications into its ebXML Messaging Specification.

OASIS ebXML TC members include BEA Systems, Commerce One, Cyclone Commerce, eXcelon, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Identrus, IPNet Solutions, Oracle, SAP, Sterling Commerce, Sun Microsystems, Tibco, webMethods and XMLSolutions. Organizations interested in working on ebXML are encouraged to join OASIS prior to the first TC meetings in July.