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Subject: President's Message - April 2005

OASIS Members:

The upcoming OASIS Symposium will examine XML vocabularies from a wide
variety of industry sectors and approaches.  I am excited by the line-up of
sessions, however, I believe the real value of the program lies in the
opportunity it presents to chart a cross-sectoral path forward for building
the next generation of open standards.  Scott Hinkelman, IBM, sums up the
business problem quite succinctly, which this year's Symposium is
addressing:  "Businesses typically find themselves unable to utilize
vertical industry B2B vocabulary standards directly out of the box, and have
difficulty in leveraging multiple vertical industry standards and
specifications due to differences in both methodology/design and the actual
content.  Interoperability at the business layers continues to be difficult
using a single vertical industry's standards, let alone across industries."

So, this is the heart of the issues that OASIS members are addressing and
will be discussing at the Symposium: how to build cross-sectoral e-business
standards to enable interoperability at the business layer.

What's the problem?

Until now, industry-specific vocabularies have all too often been developed
in a stove-pipe fashion that limits many companies' use of the Internet for
e-Business.  The lack of a unified approach has become a barrier to
achieving service expansion benefits into cross-sectoral lines of business.

Governments too are realizing the shortcomings of a departmental approach to
standardized vocabularies, as they find themselves hampered by attempts to
share information between agencies and between different levels of
government (federal, regional/state, local).  The departmental stove-pipe
approach hinders their ability to interact with other countries and with
businesses covering a wide range of industry sectors.  

We need to apply a cross-sectoral approach in order to create
interoperability at the business layer. We need to do this both with the
vocabulary standards and with the web service standards that are needed to
support critical industry functions.

How did we get here?

When XML became a W3C Recommendation in 1998, organizations such as
CommerceNet were already evangelizing the practical benefits of using XML in
business vocabularies and interface protocols.   Industry groups began to
develop their own XML vocabularies, despite the efforts of visionaries who
advocated for cross-industry adoption of a common business language and
agreement on element naming design rules.  Consequently, we are now faced
with dozens, if not hundreds, of incompatible and non-interoperable business

The Universal Business Language (UBL) OASIS Standard and the UBL Naming and
Design Rules OASIS Standard, together with the UN/CEFACT ebXML Core
Components Technical Specification provide a means for cross-referencing
some of the industry-specific XML-based vocabularies. Unfortunately, it took
over seven years to move from initial concept (the US NIST-sponsored
CommerceNet/Veo/Tessarae Common Business Library research project in 1997)
to the UBL OASIS Standard in 2004.

As we apply hindsight to the future, it's clear the business layers needed
for SOA shouldn't have to rely on adapters, transformers or mapping tools.
We need to adopt a more robust way to achieve cross-sectoral
interoperability-and we need to achieve usable results a lot faster.  We can
draw on the depth of experience within OASIS membership from creating
interoperable framework protocols, and apply that to solving the business
layer interoperability challenge.

What are some examples of ways forward?

Using the UBL OASIS Standard to provide a common point of reference against
which existing industry business languages can map their vocabularies is one
practical approach to solving the problem.  Researchers also look to various
combinations of Web services with the Semantic Web and with Grid Computing
to enable automated invocation of business functionality through message
exchange (e.g. SOAP, UDDI, WSDL, WSBPEL, etc.).  

At OASIS, we see another example emerging of how cross-sectoral standards
can be developed quicker and with greater industry adoption on a global
scale.  The model links open standards development processes closer to
university- and government-sponsored research efforts. Active involvement of
technology vendors--small and large--helps identify approaches that can be
implemented in software solutions. With industry associations and end-user
businesses taking an active role in setting requirements and priorities,
even version 1 specifications are assured to be usable and readily embraced.
With governments collaborating in the process, the results are also more
likely to meet public policy requirements  and become widely adopted,
especially in many of the global markets where international trade is vital.
With open source software developers participating, implementations into the
small and medium enterprise markets and smaller governments are eased by the
broader range of tools and applications based on the open standards.

Another advantage for industry groups to participate with OASIS in the
development of their SOA and Web Services standards for use in their
industry, is that they can shorten the time to development by understanding
and building on other infrastructure SOA and Web services standards that
have been or are being developed within the same OASIS environment.

An excellent example of how the collaborative approach is already reducing
the time-to-market for cross-sectoral standards can be seen in the OASIS
FWSI TC (Framework for Web Services Implementations).  This Committee was
formed in September 2003 to define implementation methods and common
functional elements for broad, multi-platform, vendor-neutral
implementations of Web services for e Business applications.  The group has
already produced its first draft of common functional elements, in the
process growing from 13 participants in nine organizations, to 56
participants in 28 member organizations.

Another example of how an industry can develop its SOA/WS standards in a
more integrated fashion can be found in the OASIS oBIX TC (Open Building
Information Exchange).  In 2004, the Continental Automated Builders
Association voted to move its oBIX working group activities into an OASIS
TC, so that the resulting standard would be more integrated with the
enterprise SOA and WS standards.  The wisdom of that decision is now paying
off as the OASIS oBIX TC has been able to reach out to multiple other OASIS
Web services efforts such as the OASIS WS Distributed Management (WSDM), WS
Resource Framework (WSRF), and WS Notification (WSN) committees as well as
referencing some of the security standards, XACML and XCBF.  Consideration
is also being given to how the oBIX Alerts and Sensors work can be
integrated with the OASIS Emergency Management TC's Common Alerting Protocol
(CAP) OASIS Standard that is being adopted by the US Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) and many state and local public safety organizations.  This
collaborative approach is saving oBIX developers time and reducing the
chance of overlap and duplicative effort.  

You can get more insight and help drive solutions for cross-sectoral
standards at the OASIS Symposium, week of activities (24-19 April 2005, New
Orleans, Louisiana, USA.).  This is an exciting opportunity to give context
to the need for cross-sectoral e-business standards and to discover,
collectively, ways forward.

A wide variety of industry sectors will be represented, including financial
services, automotive, telecommunications, aerospace, defense, information
technology, electronic components, semiconductor, building automation,
petroleum, travel, publishing, localization, geospatial, legal, public
safety, and government..  Perspectives from pioneers of XML,  Jon Bosak,
Mark Crawford, Bob Glushko, and Ken Laskey, , and will join with the
practical experience from technologists working on the next generation of
SOA and Web services, and researchers such as Christoph Bussler, Adrian
Mocan, and Michal Zaremba, from Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI)
in Ireland and Liliana Cabral of the Open University's Knowledge Media
Institute in the UK.

We are also honored to have two very distinguished keynote speakers who will
help frame these issues against a broader landscape.  Mitch Kapor, founder
and President of the Open Source Applications Foundation, will address the
need for an information commons and describe how leading-edge businesses are
learning to thrive on openness.  Joanne Friedman, co-founder and CEO of
ConneKted Minds Inc., will provide a unique perspective on the need for
stewardship and governance to help drive the multilateralism needed to
support global cross industry trade.

As exciting as the Symposium's parts may be, I believe the sum of the whole
will be even greater. That's because the OASIS Symposium not only offers a
forum for the exchange of ideas, it also delivers a level playing field for
putting those ideas into practice, for collaborating on solutions to address
the real problems that user companies, governments, and industry
organizations are experiencing.  

I look forward to seeing you all there.

Patrick Gannon
President & CEO
630 Boston Road
Billerica, MA  01821  
+1.978.667.5115 x201  - office
+1.978.761.3546       - mobile

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