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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.

Pravin R. Morais is a software engineer at Cysive, Inc. where he works in Product Development on the Cymbio Interaction Server. Pravin is a Sun Certified Java Programmer and Java Developer, and has a BS in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering. Pravin may be reached at pmorais@cysive.com.


Market Analysis
Dynamic e-business using Web service workflow

Summary
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.

Challenges to electronic collaboration
Electronic collaboration is a skill corporations will have to master to leverage and reap many of the benefits the Internet has provided. Today the world of electronic collaboration is developing rapidly, introducing new technology, and new ways of collaborating. The success of collaboration will depend on the ability of a corporation to make sure that their applications are not only dynamic, but maintain a high degree of inter-operability with collaboration partners. EDI - it's so "last century"

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) essentially defined the technology of electronic collaboration for the last millennium, but its popularity is waning for a variety of reasons. EDI is an expensive solution, due to the high cost of network infrastructure and system integration. It has also proven to be complex, difficult to maintain, and inflexible in the face of changing market conditions. Smaller businesses with low volume collaboration needs simply preferred to stay away from EDI and implemented custom solutions in an ad-hoc fashion. Security issues also limited corporations from directly accessing the computing resources of its trading partners, which used "firewall-unfriendly" protocols. The challenge to achieving dynamic e-business collaborations lies in the need to have a low cost, flexible software solution that allows corporations to build new applications in response to changing business needs while adhering to a defined electronic business standard.

Web services - the key to online business integration
Web services offers the potential for seamless application integration regardless of programming language or operating environment. Web services technology is based on a set of existing Internet standards and widely accepted specifications; HTTP, XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI. Selecting Web services for achieving business integration yields many benefits, including:

  • The ability to quickly respond to changing market conditions by using loosely coupled modular services.
  • Avoids proprietary lock-in via a standards-based architecture and programming language neutrality.
  • Enables IT to reduce costs due to increased interoperability, and reuse of existing legacy systems.
  • Increases revenue by enabling rapid assembly of existing assets into new, value-added services

ebXML - streamlining the process and creating business collaborations
ebXML is a set of specifications that enable a modular, yet complete electronic business framework. If the Internet is the information highway for electronic business, then ebXML can be thought of as providing the rules of the road. The ebXML initiative is designed for electronic interoperability, allowing businesses to find each other, agree to become trading partners and conduct business.

Appling ebXML standards to Web service model
Web services alone are insufficient to achieve effective electronic collaboration; unless Web services are applied in the context of collaboration standards such as ebXML, they are just another set of stateless services, providing no real business value. Corporations need to understand the Web services programming model and its underlying technologies, and then be able to apply them within the realm of an electronic business standard.

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