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Home > News and Events > Newsletters > Volume III Sept 2004
CECID Update Newsletter Vol III Issue II September 2004
Update Newsletter
Volume III Issue II September 2004

Looking Back and Ahead: CECID's Competency in E-Commerce Standardization

To build an e-commerce software infrastructure that enhances the capability of Hong Kong government and business enterprises to conduct electronic business locally and globally, there are three dimensions of interoperability that need to be achieved. They are messaging interoperability, business information interoperability, and business process interoperability. CECID is gradually extending its technology focus from business connectivity to business process engine and further to business information and process modeling tools.

CECID has focused on addressing the messaging interoperability by developing standardized messaging frameworks that enable secure and reliable exchange of electronic documents between different enterprise applications for conducting business. Based on ebXML, CECID has developed essential ebXML architectural components such as ebXML message service handler, Hermes, for business documents to exchange in a secure manner. Besides ebXML, the R&D team is now developing Hermes 2 to support other messaging standards, such as AS2 and Web Services.

After enabling business documents to exchange securely, CECID works on TranXnet, which is a generic business process execution engine governing the document exchange sequence among the applications. It provides not only an execution platform for both external B2B application, but also internal workflow application or EAI. Partners involving in an e-business activity develop applications to interface with TranXnet to exchange electronic documents. Before a business process is started, business partners first define the business process as XML standards, e.g. Business Process Specification Schema (BPSS) in the ebXML domain, Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS).

Since November, CECID has proceeded to address the business information and process interoperability on the Internet. The new R&D initiatives involve standardization on the contents of electronic documents to be exchanged for conducting business, as well as standardization on business process that governs the document exchange sequences for conducting business. The development of Business Information Modeling (BIM) Tool and Business Process Modeling (BPM) Tool, aimed to achieve the business information and process interoperability respectively, is underway. These tools will support the process-driven, standards-based paradigm on XML and Web Services. This in turn brings benefits to organizations by enabling movement of business information smoothly within the organization and between the organization and its suppliers/customers via EAI and B2B integration. BIM and BPM tools are expected to complete by May 2006.

Thematic Interoperability Frameworks

Interoperability - the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.

IEEE Standard Computer Dictionary:
A Compilation of IEEE Standard Computer Glossaries.
New York, NY: 1990

The above definition implies at least two aspects need to be addressed by systems or components in order to be interoperable - technical interoperability and semantic interoperability. Technical interoperability can be achieved by using standards or 'standards-based' protocols. Semantic interoperability is concerned with the definition and understanding of data for exchange and reuse.

Interoperability frameworks are collections of technical and data specifications that define the interface between interacting applications. Frameworks of different focuses or themes have been developed to address the technical and semantic aspects. For example, OASIS/UNCEFACT's ebXML framework focuses on messaging, semantics, processes and modeling technical standards, while several economies, Australia, European Union (EU), Hong Kong, and United Kingdom, have developed interoperability frameworks for e-government initiatives. Spearheaded by EAN.UCC, an organization dedicated to standards development for universal product codes (or simply known as bar codes), Global Data Synchronization Network, aims to help retailers and manufacturers to synchronize product data. There are beliefs that global data synchronization is a necessary building block to RFID (radio frequency identification) implementation. Besides these frameworks, some industry consortiums have defined vertical frameworks (or models) for their industries. RosettaNet is one such model catered to the high tech products supply chain. Frameworks mentioned above may not cover the same focus or scope; nevertheless, one denominator they often advocate is openness: open standards, open systems interconnection, open architecture, or the use of open source software. For a comparison of open standards and open source, refer to CECID's June 2004 newsletter.

MTRC Staff Movement Data Synchronization Process Project

In an enterprise, data are collected by disparate systems and need to be synchronized across systems to ensure data consistency. At MTRC, the major subway operator in Hong Kong, employment records are frequently updated in the Human Resources Management System (HRMS) and Corporation Qualification Administration System (CQA). The data are then sent to several other systems at MTRC. To simplify and standardize MTRC's staff movement data synchronization process, CECID will provide an EAI solution. In this new pilot project with MTRC, data in source systems (HRMS and CQA) are synchronized with two critical systems, Engineering Traffic Management System (ETMS) and Operation Publication Distribution System (OPDS). The aim of this project is to improve the extensibility and flexibility of the current staff movement data synchronization process by using XML and Web Services standards.

From time to time, after employees join MTRC, their personal profile, job function, and/or employment status, demographic data and employment details need to be created or updated in the HRMS and CQA, and these data are supposed to be automatically synchronized with other systems to keep data up-to-date and consistent among systems. However, the existing interfaces between the HRMS/CQA, and the other systems are lack of standardized techniques and technologies for data exchange. To achieve interoperability, this project first defines data file in a more flexible XML format. After defining a standard data structure, a new centralized EAI architecture is proposed and Web Services technology is introduced to replace FTP as the data transfer protocol. This integration platform provides reliable messaging and data consistency across different systems.

The first phase of the project is on synchronization between CQA, ETMS and OPDS. The deployment has been done in August, and now the system is under pilot testing. This phase should be put into production in late 2004. The second phase will start in Q1 2005 which will put HRMS in the picture and aim at enhancing the reliability, extensibility and usability of the system.

  • Architecture of Web Services Integration for the MTRC Staff Movement Data Synchronization


CECID Hermes Won the Certificate of Merit at the 6th HKCS IT Excellence Awards

CECID is pleased to announce that our open source ebXML business-to-business (B2B) Messaging Server, Hermes, has been awarded the Certificate of Merit (Product category) at the 6th IT Excellence Awards for SMEs.

Organized by the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS), the IT Excellence Awards is an award scheme that has been recognized as one of the most prestigious events in the local IT industry. The presentation ceremony was held at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre on August 27, 2004. Over 250 IT professionals, business executives and their friends gathered for a delightful dinner and shared the joy of the winners at the presentation ceremony.

First time to enter the contest, CECID submitted Hermes under the competitive SMEs Product Category. The panel of judges, comprised of prominent IT professionals, and chaired by Prof. Lap-Chee Tsui, commented that Hermes was " a reliable and ready solution with good performance ... a number of commercial projects are under negotiation ... may create the XML based market for the local software industry".

Some local users of Hermes include MTRC, OOCL, Sony, HMV, and HKSAR Government's Marine Department. To our knowledge, several local software vendors also have plans to adopt Hermes to further develop commercial B2B projects for sale in local and foreign markets. This will establish the worldwide leadership of Hong Kong IT industry in this specific technology area and will potentially enhance the industry's overall international competitiveness.


Upcoming Events

Sept 21-22, 2004
Modeling Forum 2004
, Tokyo Conference Center, Japan
Hosted by UMTP Japan (Consortium for UML based Modelling Technologies Promotion)
Speaker: Patrick Yee (System Architect, CECID)
Presentation Topic: Global Business Model Sharing - Business Information and Process
Modeling for E-Commerce
Oct 5, 2004
Java Technology Forum 2004
, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong
Hosted by Sun Microsystems of California Limited
Speaker: Patrick Yee (System Architect, CECID)
Presentation Topic: Open Source Software with Java: Catalyst for Open Standards Adoption

New Staff

CECID welcomes Hugo Lam and Ronnie Kwok (Technology Officers, CECID) to join our R&D team.

With his extensive experience in large-scale enterprise systems development and integration, Hugo is now responsible for designing and developing a brand new messaging platform, Hermes 2, which can support multiple messaging protocols. On the one hand, he has a broad research interest in object-oriented and distributed systems. On the other hand, he likes playing snooker at leisure and traveling.

Prior to joining CECID, Ronnie led through various Java applications projects for clients in the banking and financial sector. Currently, Ronnie is responsible for the development of the B2B Connector, which is a standalone low-cost device for companies to exchange business information securely and reliably. In his leisure time, Ronnie enjoys reading and listening to music.

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