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Data Exchange B2Bi

The limitation of the Application-to-Application B2Bi pattern is that it can be more demanding to implement. It necessitates that each participant handles and externalizes application native data directly. This makes it difficult to scale the B2B interaction model rapidly when such a demand is placed on the participants. The optimal solution is to provide a rapidly scalable B2Bi model in which participants can exchange data freely with minimal expectation on their infrastructure.

The Data Exchange B2Bi pattern enables B2B transactions predicated on a common data exchange format. It is the most widely applied pattern for B2B commerce today. Data Exchange B2Bi is effective because it is simple in concept and has been in use since the days of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the forerunner to today's B2B over the Internet.

Although there is a significant incumbency of legacy EDI transactions, the XML-based B2B will ultimately displace EDI as the primary mechanism for e-Business transactions. As Figure 3.7 illustrates, XML-based data packets are transmitted between two business entities through the use of a data exchange gateway service on both ends. One of the primary responsibilities of the gateway service is to prepare the data packets by placing them within a security envelope. The B2B gateway service supports security standards such as MIME, X.509, and S/Key. It is also responsible for routing data through a standard transport. Most B2B gateway services provide numerous transport options including HTTPS, FTP, and TCP/IP Sockets. However, upon examination, you will find that most B2Bi transactions still deliver XML documents over an HTTPS pipe.

Figure 3.7 Data Exchange B2Bi.

A point to note with this pattern is that the interactions are still primarily point-to-point. Furthermore, the semantics of interaction (that is, the business processes) between the e-Business entities are static. Many trading standards have emerged to define both the content of document exchange as well as the common business processes. One such standard is promoted by an independent, nonprofit organization called RosettaNet. RosettaNet is committed to developing standard e-Business interfaces that cover, among other things, e-Business processes for standard business transactions. These process definitions are captured in what is known as Partner Interface Processes.

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