Oasis raises the standard

An international working group has agreed an e-business internet standard that should make sharing data between companies easier.

A consortium including technology providers, major IT users and the United Nations said agreement on the specifications of ebXML would help electronic communication between companies regardless of their size, location or industry sector.

The Oasis group — which includes IBM, SAP, Sun Microsystems, Intel, Boeing and EADS Airbus — spent 18 months developing the new standard.

XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) is a technology platform for sharing data via the internet and other electronic networks.

The global business community has been wrestling with the problem of making sure XML is available in a common form, rather than just in industry-specific versions that could leave different sectors unable to communicate with each other.

The UN’s CEFACT trade and e-business agency, responsible for the international standard on EDI, worked with Oasis to draw up the new specifications.

They hope e-business ventures will now integrate ebXML, one of the biggest initiatives to unify online data exchange, into their own standards.

Early encouragement came from RosettaNet — an e-commerce standards consortium of more than 400 companies in the electronic components, semiconductor and IT sectors — which will build in support for ebXML.

As well as helping new ‘pure internet’ ventures such as online trading exchanges to communicate with each other, ebXML could also enable companies using legacy EDI systems to join the e-business age more easily.

Patrick Gannon, chairman of the Oasis board, anticipates a wave of ebXML implementations. ‘We expect the rate of deployment to accelerate quickly,’ he said.

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