The Internet Business Services Initiative (IBSi), an industry association promoting the development and use of Web-native business solutions, Thursday (Feb 15) announced it has launched a “proof-of-concept” implementation of its first standard to streamline interoperability among Internet Business Services. The new provisioning specification, slated for release to the general industry in March, will improve the customer experience by allowing secure account information to be shared among services.
The IBSi ITML (Information Technology Markup Language) Provisioning Specification defines secure interoperability standards for sharing user data among Web-based business-to-business services so that customers will not have to enter the same information every time they subscribe to a new service or change their user-permissions levels. It is an important step toward enhancing the integration among online software companies, according to Chris Haddad, IBSi technical committee chair and engineering manager at IBSi member Employease.com.
“As the provisioning specification is propagated among Web business applications, customers will be able to quickly access accounts at all of their subscribed software services. Customers will have one-step account management for multiple Web-based software services, making online applications even more convenient and flexible to use,” Haddad said.
The specification is the first in a series of IBSi technical recommendations being developed this year to encourage interoperability among software services. A second specification also originally scheduled for release this quarter addressing a single user sign-on is being re-evaluated based on related work from industry standards organizations. The IBSi is channeling its resources toward generating technical guidelines for those issues that have not yet been taken up by standards groups in order to establish a commonly-accepted integration path for services as quickly as possible.
XML Standard Suited for IBS Implementation
The current ITML provisioning specification is based on an industry-standard XML protocol for provisioning users and companies across multiple Internet business services and integration platforms. It applies proven technology compatible with the IBS model and also supports secure business practices. The specification was proposed by Jamcracker, an IBSi member and an aggregator of Web-based services, and evolved with the combined efforts of the IBSi technical working group.
“Automated provisioning using the widely-accepted XML technology will accelerate the time-to-service for both customers and IT administrators. It also allows customers to rapidly make changes to their user environment, such as adding, deleting or modifying access to Web services,” said Jamcracker senior manager of business development Kelly Emo.
The “proof-of-concept” implementation is being managed by IBSi members OpenAir.com and Jamcracker, and the specification has been released to members for their comment. The final recommendation will be published for the general industry after the testing phase and with the approval of the IBSi membership, expected by the end of March.
“This specification represents a major step toward the Initiative’s goal of improving the interoperability of software delivered over the Internet. As an industry association, the IBSi is committed to developing standards that open the way for IT managers to integrate Internet Business Services into their business processes,” said OpenAir.com’s Jon Finegold.
The IBSi technical working group is focusing on interoperability because service-to-service integration offers significant business and economic advantages to online software suppliers. With the IBS model, a supplier only has to write code once to integrate with another service and the added functionality is immediately availabl
e to all customers using the software. With traditional or packaged software, code must be written and customized for each customer, often resulting in time-consuming and costly IT projects.
In October 2000, the IBSi announced it had begun addressing a series of technical issues as part of an aggressive program to improve interoperability among Internet Business Services. These standard procedures are being developed based on existing technology adapted to the needs of Internet Business Services and released as rules and methodologies that define best practices. Protocols are planned for consolidated billing, a common look and feel, coordinated session management and other integration opportunities.
Internet Business Services Initiative (IBSi) was founded to facilitate the growth, availability and adoption of Internet Business Services that deliver business-to-business applications over the Web. Headquartered in San Francisco, the non-profit industry association is educating the marketplace and making it easier for customers to access, evaluate, use and benefit from these services.