Dynamic e-business using Web service workflow

Web services will be a critical component in the business plans of corporations as it offers the potential for creating highly dynamic and versatile distributed applications that span technological and business boundaries. One of the revolutionary concepts made possible by the Internet is "electronic value chains". However, enterprises face a daunting challenge when integrating different value chains from different corporations. A Web service workflow has the potential to successfully integrate value chains and opens the door to dynamic e-business collaborations. In this article I will discuss how dynamic e-business can be achieved by applying Electronic Business XML (ebXML) standards to Web service workflow for meeting real world business demands.


Market Analysis
Page Two: Dynamic e-business using Web service workflow

Streamlining the process of setting up and doing business
To facilitate the process of conducting eBusiness, potential Trading Partners need a mechanism to publish information about the business processes they support along with specific technology implementation details about their capabilities for exchanging business information. This is accomplished through the use of a Collaboration Protocol Profile (CPP). The CPP is a document, which allows a Trading Partner to express their supported business processes and business service interface requirements so that other ebXML-compliant trading partners can universally understand them. A special business agreement called a Collaboration Protocol Agreement (CPA) is derived from the intersection of two or more CPP's. The CPA serves as a formal handshake between two or more trading partners wishing to conduct business transactions using ebXML.

Creating electronic business collaboration
The strength of the ebXML architecture is that it provides a framework for electronic business collaboration. The architecture enables businesses to work together to specify business process, discover each other, negotiate collaboration agreements, and execute business processes. With reference to the ebXML functional service view, I will describe how two corporations A and B could create business collaboration.

  • Corporation A would like to enable its existing Legacy application as a Web service. It needs to adapt its system to ebXML standards.
  • Corporation A downloads the ebXML specifications, (i.e. the business process models) and determines which business processes best fit their current business model. Corporation A could implement only a subset of the business processes from the ebXML specification or modify an existing specification. In some cases a community of trading partners -- for example AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) or RosettaNet (a consortium of major information technology, electronic components and semiconductor manufacturing companies) may define the business processes to be used in the community.
  • Once Corporation A has determined the business process it can support it starts building an application wrapper around its legacy system to support the ebXML specification.
  • Corporation A defines the service interfaces that other business processes can invoke. It also describes the input and output messages that will be exchanged to complete a successful business transaction with its business partners and the corresponding error handling and failure scenarios. It would further specify the technical configuration of the supported transport, security and encoding protocols. In ebXML terminology this is accomplished by defining the Collaboration Protocol Profile (CPP). This profile is then stored in the ebXML repository for other organizations to discover. A CPP is equivalent to WSDL in the Web services programming model; however, CPP is more comprehensive and details the role of the participants involved in a business collaboration to be able to drive complex interactions to fulfill a service request.
  • Corporation B looks into the ebXML repository for possible business corporations providing a particular Web service, which could fit or compete for a role within its current business process.
  • Corporation B downloads Corporation A's CPP. The CPP contains details on Corporations A's Web service including the input and output messages the service implements.
  • Corporation B is interested in the Web services provided by Corporation A. Both these corporations meet together to discuss the details of the business agreement. The agreement, referred to as the Collaboration Partner Agreement (CPA), governs the interaction behavior by constraining the runtime environment to a set of parameters agreed to by both corporations.
  • Corporations A and B are ready to commence their electronic business interaction. The "payload" (i.e. messages) exchanged between the two corporations is governed by the defined CPA. The messages are transported in a standard manner using the secure and reliable ebXML Message Service.

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