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Is XML Ready for Business?

While the XML family of technologies goes a long way to build up the features needed for exchanging business messages, XML markup technology by itself can't do all that's needed. The major inhibitor to the use of XML for business is its inability to provide for interoperability among the various vocabularies written for exchanging business messages. The number of these vocabularies is expanding rapidly; a survey in 2000 showed these vocabularies doubling between February and August 2000.46 Unless a way is found to allow businesses using these vocabularies to understand messages from other vocabularies, the promise of XML as a data exchange technology will go unfulfilled.

NOTE

The major inhibitor to the use of XML for business is its inability to provide for interoperability among the various vocabularies written for exchanging business messages.

To achieve this interoperability, companies using XML need to have a common set of methods with translation among the different industry syntaxes. Also needed is a way of relating the XML messages to overall business processes that give context to the messages and the data contained within them. XML by itself also has no inherent provisions for security and privacy, although the W3C has undertaken important initiatives in these areas, notably with digital signatures and privacy preferences using extensions to the base XML specifications.

At the same time, no solution can just pile on all of these requirements without keeping an eye on the impact it will have on achieving the desired objectives—keeping within the scale and price range of the millions of smaller businesses that so far are left out of the data-exchange experience. This is the challenge laid at the feet of ebXML.

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