The Labyrinthine Nature of Web Services
Web services is the latest and clearly favored denomination invoked to describe a way of allowing computers to interact and make decisions based on the data that has been fed to them. That much is true. But what non-analysts or non-standards gurus may not know, is that there are other options, albeit ones that are not as popular today. Yet analysts and standards workers have maintained that schemas such as ebXML, or electronic business Extensible Markup Language, remain viable.

Web services versus ebXML
For those that go back a little ways in the software networking annals, ebXML is meant to be an extension of EDI or Electronic Data Interchange. ebXML has also been around for a couple of years -- the messaging aspect of the seven-parts of the ebXML standard was ratified in 2000.

The end purpose in all of this is for the computer and corresponding network to fill items such as purchase orders, and to fill them intelligently. For instance, if a computer has two copies of the same purchase order, with the functionalities provided by ebXML, the computer will know that it should only process one of them. This can be crucial in businesses whose systems process POs numbering in the millions.

B2B arrangements are devised of horizontal and vertical parts. On the horizontal stacks, there are software functions such as messaging, routing and packaging data. On the vertical side, there are business processes, such as a purchase order. That's in general; there are cases where a PO can be part of the horizontal stack.


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