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9/12/2003
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Amazon Makes Online Merchandising Easier

E-retailer introduces SOAP gateway as a callable Web service for third-party sellers

Amazon.com Inc. is adopting a Web-services approach to integration, ramping up its ability to add merchants to its site.

"The goal is for there to be no friction between us and the merchants," says Jim Harding, VP for technology. The E-retailer provides a "self-service" Simple Object Access Protocol gateway that a prospective merchandiser can call as a Web service, then use to link its systems to Amazon's. Until now, Amazon has integrated hundreds of merchants through an internally developed Soap gateway that tended to require Amazon IT services for each hookup, says Girish Prabhu, manager of integration systems.

As one of the largest online retailers, Amazon's use of a Soap gateway as a callable Web service for business partners may be copied by other sites. Its Soap gateway is provided as part of the Web Applications and Services Platform for C++, Systinet Corp.'s Web-services run-time environment. Amazon will publish an XML document schema that any merchant can use to register and submit product information, images, and other documents to a store that it builds on the Amazon site. All XML documents are submitted as Soap messages over HTTP. Their file formats will vary, depending on whether they've been sent by a Java- or a Microsoft .Net-based server, but the Wasp gateway recasts them in a neutral format that Amazon's applications can handle.

Systinet CEO Roman Stanek is former director of software engineering at Sun Microsystems. He joined Sun when it acquired his company, NetBeans, an early supplier of Java development tools.

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