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New XML spec prepped for business

by Jessica Davis, InfoWorld

In a move that could play a key part in spawning peer-to-peer exchanges, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Bowstreet Software this week announced the creation of a new XML specification to enable complex business transactions among multiple parties.

The companies expect to complete the specification, Transaction Authority Markup Language (XAML), in mid-January and submit it to one or several standards bodies such as the Internet Egineering Task Force (IETF) or the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Businesses could start implementing the spec by early next year, said Tim Dempsey, chief marketing officer at Portsmouth, Nevada (3272)New Hampshire-based Bowstreet.

"XAML is about making Web services transactional," Dempsey said. "It helps companies preserve their investments in existing transaction monitors and other software."

But while analysts agree that XAML could have an impact on e-commerce by making it easier for businesses to conduct transactions with each other, how soon that might happen remains in question.

"It will be an important thing for Web services, but Web services have to become mainstream before transactional semantics become important," said David Smith, vice president of Internet Strategies at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Group.

A realistic timetable for XAML to be implemented is a couple years, Smith said.

More important initiatives such as Universal Description Discovery Integration (UDDI) need to move forward before XAML can make a major impact, Smith said.

UDDI is another XML specification for e-commerce that allows vendors to expose their database-resident information such as supported transport protocols to other companies. That data can then be used to match companies for e-commerce transactions. Together with UDDI, XAML could enable peer-to-peer exchanges for business-to-business e-commerce.

"The concept of Web services such as UDDI and XAML lends itself well to peer-to-peer marketplaces," Gartner's Smith said.

Existing exchanges could also make use of technologies such as UDDI and XAML, Smith said.

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