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Shift In Web Services

Carmakers collaborate on project to establish transaction standards
A project being undertaken by leading members of the auto industry this month could facilitate the convergence of much-needed capabilities found in the ebXML transaction standard into the three most widely accepted Web-services specifications.

As part of the Automotive Industry Action Group's project to improve visibility within the supply chain, Ford Motor, General Motors, and, most recently, DaimlerChrysler have agreed to work to bring ebXML's encryption, reliability, and security capabilities to the UDDI registry of available services, the Web Services Description Language, and the Simple Object Access Protocol. EbXML is more advanced than these Web-services protocols, providing for reliable business collaboration and interenterprise process automation, according to research firm Gartner.

The auto industry's Inventory Visibility and Interoperability project is based on ebXML standards, but carmakers say partners already supporting UDDI, WSDL, and Soap would rather see ebXML's benefits brought to those platforms. "The problem we hear from industry suppliers and customers is they have to support two techniques," says Michael Richards, manager of enterprise architecture at Ford. A consistent approach will lower supply-chain costs with simplified business processes, says John Jackson, GM's director of software technology. The next step is to gain approval from the standards bodies.