Oasis Agrees to Play With SOAP

Oasis, a not-for-profit consortium of companies backed by the United Nations, Thursday seemed to back off from its confrontational stance against the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and said it would support that group’s Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) standard.

The move has important implications for e-business standards. The two groups have been at odds over which XML-based communications protocol will be used for businesses to exchange information with each other. The W3C was supporting SOAP, a technology originally created by Microsoft, while Oasis — whose members include Microsoft rivals like Sun Microsystems and IBM — was working on a messaging protocol as part of its Electronic Business XML (ebXML) effort. Two competing standards would have necessitated another standard to allow the two protocols to communicate with each other.

Oasis now plans to integrate SOAP 1.1 and SOAP with Attachments specifications into its ebXML Messaging Specification.

“The convergence of these two specifications marks a significant step forward for interoperability,” said Klaus-Dieter Naujok, chair of ebXML and member of the UN/CEFACT Steering Group. UN/CEFACT is a United Nations body with a mandate covering worldwide policy and technical development in trade facilitation and electronic business. “We’re committed — not only to integrating ebXML Messaging with SOAP — but also to completing this work in time to meet our original goal of delivering ebXML in May 2001.”

The ebXML initiative was established by UN/CEFACT and Oasis in late 1999.

“Having the messaging infrastructure of ebXML built on SOAP is a strong signal that standards convergence is both desired by the industry and doable,” said Dr. Robert S. Sutor of IBM, vice chair of ebXML and a member of the Oasis board. “As ebXML evolves, we will continue to explore how we can cooperate with others to help develop the foundational open standards for business on the Internet.”

The ebXML Messaging Specification is intended to allow e-business clients to request services from e-business servers over any application-level transport protocol, including SMTP and HTTP. The specification defines a general-purpose message with a header that supports multiple payloads while allowing digital signatures within and among related messages.

“By adopting SOAP in their messaging layer, ebXML puts to rest any worriers about interoperability between SOAP and ebXML,” said Andrew Layman, XML Architect at Microsoft. “This takes advantage of SOAP’s role as a key component of XML-based messaging.”

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