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Standards & Standardization
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Standards & Standardization

We are all witnessing the growth and impact of e-commerce on business and on our everyday lives. Businesses and governments are keen to deploy e-commerce technology for efficiency improvement and cost savings. To fully benefit from e-commerce, data and information must be shared and exchanged anytime anywhere. Standards are critical to ensuring that diverse information systems can interoperate within an organization and across organizations. Two of CECID's mandates are to participate in international standards development and to adopt these standards in our R&D products.

Interoperability can be defined in three dimensions: data exchange protocol, business data, and business process. Organizations must develop agreements along these dimensions with their partners in order to transact electronically, and our R&D focuses on these dimensions.

Data Exchange Protocol Standards
Agreement on the data exchange protocol enables trading partners to use a common way to transmit business data on the Internet. Most of these recently developed protocol standards are based on W3C Simple Object Access Protocol. Different data exchange protocols provide different quality of service capabilities. A few protocols such as ebXML Message Service offer some security and reliability features that make data transmission on the Internet come very close to lease line quality. Some new Web Services standardization activities are also working on adding similar features to the Web Services basic profile.

Business Data Standards
Apart from the data exchange protocol, trading partners must also agree upon the format, structure, and semantics of the business data they communicate so that their computer systems can understand and process the data unambiguously. While XML is considered as the universal format for data exchange on the Internet, W3C XML Schema is commonly used to define XML data structure and semantics.

To facilitate development of data standards, some organizations have formulated their data standardization guidelines and methodologies. UN/CEFACT, the e-commerce standards body of the United Nations, has released the Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) under the ebXML framework as a systematic approach for analyzing business information and structure the information in electronic documents. Based on CCTS, Universal Business Language (UBL) is being developed in the OASIS Technical Committee. UBL intends to become a legally recognized XML-based business language standard for international trade. The Hong Kong Government has also published its XML Schema Design and Management Guide to set a methodology standard for government agencies and software vendors to design electronic documents and data standards for e-government application.

Business Process Standards
Another crucial aspect for enterprises to collaborate electronically is business process standardization. To automate business transaction processing, information systems must follow pre-agreed flows of business data exchange mechanisms within an enterprise and among multiple trading partners. These data exchange flows are usually prescribed in business process specifications. RosettaNet has defined a rich library of business process specifications called RosettaNet Partner Interface Processes for business collaboration in the high technology industry.

Several standards are being developed to support specification of business processes in a way that software systems can understand and execute the specifications. Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (WSBEPL) and ebXML Business Process Specification Schema (BPSS) are two rival standards that take different approaches for analyzing and specifying business processes. While BPSS is based on the choreography approach, WSBPEL has adopted the orchestration approach.

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