Web services are ideal for integrating applications inside the private process space of an organization. However, Web services may also be used between business partners for simple e-business interactions like information dispersal, status updates, etc.
RosettaNet is ideally suited for industry verticals in the IT, EC, and Semiconductor space. However, RosettaNet's business processes may be utilized outside of these industry verticals, as they provide many common business actions like purchasing, invoicing, forecasting, transportation arrangements, order management, etc.
The EbXML framework is ideally suited for regulated interactions between partners with well-defined relationships. EbXML is a horizontal standard that is applicable in every industry, and it can utilize business processes and business vocabularies developed at other industry standards bodies like RosettaNet, HL7, EDI, UBL, etc.
Interoperability between Web services and EbXML can occur currently only in the un-regulated message exchange space, since Web services are incapable of enabling regulated message exchanges. There are two methods for co-existence between the EbXML and Web services frameworks:
1) With unregulated message exchanges, it is possible for EbXML and Web services based systems to co-exist and communicate with each other. However, this co-existence is not automatic, and does require effort. 2) When EbXML is being used for regulated message exchange to conduct an external business process, and it is interoperating with the Web services framework that is being used internally to integrate applications and enable the back-end functionality required by the external business process.
With convergence possibilities in the future, key components of EbXML and Web services can co-exist even today. For example, UDDI and EbXML registries can be used to access information from each other even today. The future possibilities of tighter interoperability between the two look very promising.
There are several areas of interoperability between the Web services and EbXML frameworks. At the registries level, both UDDI and EbXML registry efforts are publishing technical notes and related literature to show how the two registries can interoperate. Another area of interoperability is in the use of SOAP in the message-packaging framework. Further ambitious efforts are underway to enable the business community to define business processes in a framework agnostic manner and then utilize either Web Services or EbXML to conduct the business process.
So to wrap up - the best way to think of how to use Web services and EbXML together, is to think of the WS-Stack (the currently standardized components of Web services), as an excellent way to integrating services inside the organization, since these interactions are informal and non-contractual. So once having integrated the systems within the organization, one can now use EbXML to conduct communication with other business partners, as this interaction is more specialized and requires a formal contractual and regulated form of communication.
This was first published in September 2004