FAQs on ebXML Message Services (ebMS) for Automotive Industry

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Drummond Group?

Founded in 1999, Drummond Group is a leader in innovative, global software testing, certification and acts as a catalyst to advance and tie together technologies, standards, security and interoperability in vertical industries – smart grid, automotive, health care, financial services, government, petroleum, pharmaceutical and retail. As a trusted, experienced and accredited interoperability test lab, the firm offers global test services through the product life cycle, including auditing, quality assurance, conformance and test consulting.

Drummond Group administers interoperability tests to enable vertical and horizontal interoperability across the global supply chain. Drummond Group's expertise in interoperability testing services and ebusiness standards is reflected in a series of research reports designed to provide education and valuable insight into current technology issues and guidance to enterprises seeking the best solutions for their supply chains.

What is ebXML?


Electronic Business using eXtensible Markup Language (ebXML) is a standards framework created by UN/CEFACT and OASIS. ebXML's mission is "To provide an open XML-based infrastructure enabling the global use of electronic business information in an interoperable, secure and consistent manner by all parties."

ebXML has five main areas of focus:

  • Business processes - Business Process Schema Specification
  • Register business processes - Registry & Repository
  • Define trading relationships - Collaborative Partner Profiles & Agreements
  • Common terms for business data - Core Components
  • Reliably exchange business messages - Message Services

The ebXML framework is a loosely coupled group of standards that was built concurrently. The end result is that each major standard may be implemented independent of the others.

What is ebXML Message Services?

ebXML Message Services is the messaging standard defined within the ebXML framework and is sometimes abbreviated as ebMS. ebMS has seen the most interest and adoption of the five key ebXML standard efforts. ebMS provides for secure and reliable messaging over the Internet. Organizations that exchange business data using ebMS can take advantage of its ability to provide:

Privacy
Encryption of data via SSL or optional data encryption standards

Authentication
User authentication via SSL or Digital Signature

Reliable Messaging
Once-and-only-once message delivery and integrity of message content validated through SSL or Digital Signature

Robust Messaging
Support for extremely large messages, multiple payloads in a single message & asynchronous messaging

Flexibility
Messages of any data type, including binary graphics, EDI or XML

How is ebMS being utilized within the automotive industry?

In the automotive sector, industry groups such as AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) and STAR (Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail) are looking to ebMS as a means for businesses to exchange messages and data directly in a safe, reliable manner over the Internet and are making recommendations to their respective memberships.

In August 2004, STAR published the STAR Transport Guidelines which included ebMS Implementation Guidelines. These guidelines provided best practice recommendations for using ebMS in the upstream automotive space and a recommendation to include data compression, a feature not currently in the ebMS specification, but critical to their business needs. STAR serves as the IT standards body for the North American retail automotive industry and focuses on providing assistance to automotive dealers, manufacturers and Retail Systems Providers (RSPs) as they seek to establish a common data exchange with one another.

For AIAG, ebMS is one of the core standards in play within a critical pilot and demonstration project named IV&I (Inventory Visibility and Interoperability). It is in a position to bring significant cost savings to the auto sector by providing a base for interoperability of inventory systems throughout the automotive manufacturing industry.

What is the price of ebMS software and how can I purchase it?

Drummond Group serves as a vendor-neutral, third party to test commercial software for interoperability. To maintain its vendor neutrality, Drummond Group does not make product recommendations or provide pricing information. Companies interested in purchasing software which have successfully passed interoperability testing can refer to the product listings located on the Drummond Group website. To see a list of certified ebMS products, or to read all the test details, go to ebMS Interoperability Product Directory.

Take note that ebMS is just one of the standards that Drummond Group tests. Products that pass DG's vendor-neutral tests are certified interoperable or compliant and published in the list of Drummond Certified products. Since 1999, Drummond Group has facilitated multiple ebMS test events of numerous software vendors' products. When suppliers choose from the list, they start with products that:

  • Have met the benchmark requirements for interoperability and compliance
  • Will work together with a minimum of installation effort and expense
  • Represent a range of features and price points to meet different supplier needs

It is up to you to contact the individual companies to get pricing and product feature information.

How often does Drummond Group conduct tests for messaging standards such as ebXML or ebMS?

Drummond Group conducts periodic tests of products for various standards. The frequency varies by standard and its stage of adoption in the industry. See the Drummond Group Test Calendar for each year's schedule.

What is interoperability testing and why is it important?

Interoperability testing is important to ensure that your supply chain can efficiently operate even when your partners are using applications developed by different software vendors. Just because a product is "conformant" or "compliant" to a standard does NOT mean that it's interoperable. For companies engaged in the growing electronic commerce marketplace, software interoperability is vital, and its absence can strongly inhibit supply chain implementations and add significant supply chain costs.

The exchange of vital information at a proven security level between automotive dealers, manufacturers and RSPs is critical for the automotive sector to meet the demands of a changing world. This requires the move toward new technical communication environments that share common data messaging standards in the supporting software.

What is the difference between compliance testing versus interoperability testing?

Compliance means "I followed the technical specifications" and is generally tested against one software reference implementation. Interoperability testing goes one step further because it means each party is both compliant and can interoperate with each other party according to a subset of the standard. Interoperability testing is done among all participating software products. When an important communication is needed, an interoperable software product will ensure the communication will be there reliably and securely. It will work when needed.

Interoperability testing goes further than compliance testing by ensuring that software solutions from different vendors can communicate thereby reducing integration and implementation costs. For example, the retail industry found compliance insufficient and made a strategic decision to roll-out only interoperability tested software in their supply chains. This was critical to successfully automating the exchange of millions of dollars of invoices and purchase orders on a daily basis.

Best practices which can be applied to automotive supply chains are:

  • Confirm that each party's software is compliant with the technical standard
  • Reach solid agreement on a compliance profile, or subset of a complex standard
  • Confirm each party's software can interoperate with each and every other party over the profile

What is Drummond Group's Interoperability Compliance Process™?

This is a methodology for testing that software applications created by different vendors can communicate with each other. Drummond Group tests every product-with-version against all of the other products-with -version involved in a specific test round. Drummond Group has done extensive work in the world of interoperability, having tested products from more than 350 software products since 1999 which support these Internet messaging standards: AS1, AS2, AS3, ebXML messaging vs 2.0 and CPFR®. Drummond Group's reach extends across the globe as companies based in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas have participated in interoperability testing.

How are Drummond Group's interoperability tests performed?

Drummond Group's software testing services provide a critical link by ensuring that multiple software products are interoperable. Furthermore, Drummond Group continues to mediate the resolution of interoperability problems, if they occur, between DG-tested products in the industry.

Since 1999, Drummond Group has specialized in interoperability tests, cross-testing all participating products against each other to ensure interoperability among all products in the test round. Products that pass testing not only comply with the standard and work against a reference platform, but interoperate with one another. The testing process, as well as detailed test results for each product and standard, is available at: Certified Products Directory

In addition to a team of experienced developers, Drummond Group also offers new automated testing software called InSitu™. If your initiative requires ongoing periodic verification of interoperability across versions, InSitu can provide valuable savings in manpower, time and costs.

How do I obtain the software needed for secure ebMS with my supply chain?

Third-party software vendor solutions that support ebMS can be used to automate business to business style messaging with supply chains.

What third-party vendor software solutions have been tested and certified as being interoperable?

ebMS is just one of the standards that Drummond Group tests. Products that pass Drummond Group's vendor-neutral tests are certified interoperable or compliant and published in the list of Drummond Certified products. Since 1999, Drummond Group has facilitated multiple ebMS test events with numerous software vendors' products. To see a list of certified ebMS products, or to read all the test details, go to ebMS Interoperability Product Directory.

When suppliers choose from the list, they start with products that:

  • Have met the benchmark requirements for interoperability and compliance
  • Will work together with a minimum of installation effort and expense
  • Represent a range of features and price points to meet different supplier needs

What are the key benefits to using ebMS for data interchange?

Benefits will differ depending upon exact situations, but general benefits include:

  1. Secure messaging, including encryption for Privacy of data
  2. Reliable messaging including guaranteed one-time delivery of messages
  3. Ability to automate messaging, reducing keying errors

Are there any performance issues when using ebMS software?

Performance will differ depending upon platforms, memory, network and processor speed. Most ebMS solutions are capable of processing a message in a matter of seconds, and will allow for significant scalability even on smaller servers or desktop machines.

Is ebMS limited to transporting only XML data? What about binary formats like pictures, audio or EDI data formats?

ebMS can transport any type of digitized data including pictures, audio and EDI file formats. Data is transported in a package known as a payload, in a similar fashion to e-mail attachments. A single message can contain multiple payloads.

How can I integrate ebMS software with my current information technology infrastructure?

Software vendors that provide ebMS support also provide middleware, or partner with companies that provide middleware targeted at integrating messaging with back-end systems. As ebMS is SOAP-based, an ebMS gateway can also be quickly integrated to backend systems that support SOAP based messaging.

What version of ebMS will be used in Drummond Group's interoperability test rounds?

Currently, ebMS version 2.0 of the ebXML Message Service standard is being utilized by multiple industries, such as automotive and public health.

What is the current status of ebXML Message Services Version 2.0?

ebMS is maintained by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Systems) and was approved as an OASIS standard in 2002. Since 1999, more than 100 ebMS solution providers have successfully completed Drummond Group's interoperability testing of ebMS Version 2.0.

If I buy a software solution supporting ebMS, will it work with an AS2 based software solution?

No. The AS2 and ebXML Messaging standards do not interoperate. However, a growing number of software vendors provide functionality that would support both standards. So, one might start with AS2 and move to ebXML, or vice versa, with the same product base. Please check with your software vendor for particulars.

How can I estimate an ROI for using ebMS for data interchange?

Return-on-Investment will differ depending upon situations. General ROI can be assessed by looking at:

  1. Error reduction due to less keying of data
  2. Value of using a secure, standards based messaging service
  3. Value of integrating back-end systems

Where can I find more information about ebMS?

OASIS and the UN sponsor an industry portal specific to ebMS at: http://www.ebxml.org/

 

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