Monday, January 08, 2007

Forrester Research - Web Services Specifications: What About ebXML? 

Forrester Research have published a paper (here) that they are asking $279 for. Their authoritative sounding title belays what is really transpiring: "How ebXML Compares With Web Services Specifications In Structure And Support. This is the tenth document in the "Status Of SOA And Web Services Specifications" series.

Obviously they are not expecting anyone to purchase this, because frankly - not only does their excerpt tell readers all they want them to know - it also reveals that the report is dubious research - and since readers are not required to pay for it to find out its message - clearly the sponsor is more likely a corporate spoiler who is intent on discrediting ebXML - yet again.

The list here is short but familiar - and the pattern reminiscent of those reports flung at LINUX by its frantic detractors while saavy users were forging ahead installing LINUX on their servers (hint - detractors include companies with an 'M' in their name).

Why? Because now that ebXML has legitimately gained real momentum in key industry sectors in 2006 - including healthcare, automotive, electrical utilities and eGovernment - the nay sayers once again need someone to rain on the parade. Congratulations Forrester Research - you receive the "Most Obviously Sycophantic Research 2006" award.

Forrester proudly reports - "According to data from recent Forrester surveys, there is very little vendor or user support for ebXML".

And then they note - "Along the way, the industry has created confusion around and between ebXML specifications and the emerging Web services specifications". Really? I wonder if the confusion could have been created by reseachers providing misleading reports and surveys?

One wonders who they mailed their surveys out to? And if they even bothered to enter "ebXML" into Google - and note and investigate the over 1,540,000 hits?

Let's see now - I just wonder who those hits could be? Obviously not developers working for Oracle, BEA, Fujitsu, IBM, Tibco, and Sun - all of whom have ebXML implementations.

Forrester does note very cagely - "unless they have a targeted reason for using it and
good support from their vendors" - such as Oracle perhaps - the worlds' largest application software providing company?

Continuing on - the users surveyed clearly are also not in Norway and the UK - where their national healthcare systems are being run by ebXML, or in Austria where electrical power is distributed using ebXML.

Likewise - Forrester failed to realize that the DHS and CDC/PHIN national alerting system that links critical care centers across the USA is underpinned by ebXML message exchanges.

Then Forrester overlooked the work by GM and VM who are installing ebXML systems to deliver spare parts to their dealerships here in the US and worldwide - Forrester employees obviously do not drive cars that require such servicing.

Meanwhile the Agricultural Chemical industry was strangely missed off the list - despite its members underpinning America's food industry - and the entire industry is now using ebXML messaging for their supply chain getting critical chemicals to farmers across the country for the vital farming cycles in the year. Oracle recently implemented an exemplar project for Helena Chemicals (as reported in SOA Web Services Journal) using ebXML B2B and BPEL and the industry RAPID standards for ebXML.

Also Forrester researchers clearly do not read InfoWorld - who awarded Xenos Inc the prestigious "Top 10 Healthcare Projects in 2006" - for their ebXML implementation.

And what about the relationship between ebXML and web services? Forrester notes "... and even though ebXML is incorporating some of the Web services specifications, a clear relationship between the two has yet to emerge". A quick inspection of Forrester's prior reporting in this area reveals a trend of such disinformation starting in 2003 and continuing to today's latest critique.

Let's spell this out so you do not have to waste $279 - the relationship has always been very clear - if you want proven and tried internationally approved standards based B2B interchanges for secure reliable eBusiness via the internet - then you have ebXML.

The ebXML technology itself can be viewed as a custom specialization of web services technology for use in formal B2B configurations. They both co-exist easily as Oracle's implementation of ebXML messaging and BPEL apply proves.

The foundation between web services and ebXML are identical - http, SSL, SOAP, digital certificates, internet server (Apache), and XML. The only differences are in the XML syntax itself overlaid on top. The ISO 15000 specifications detail these for ebXML, while the W3C and WS-I and OASIS have made numerous components for web services use.

1 - You use web services when you want quick DIY (Do-It-Yourself) simple point-to-point query/response exchanges using WSDL and SOAP or REST messaging and your applications handle resend and delivery status logic for you (loosey exchanges are not an issue). You also do not care about the information control policy - you send it and everyone can see it. And you have a very limited set of message types.

2 - You use ebXML when you need formal push and pull delivery asynchronously that is reliable and guaranteed. With ebXML you also get formal partner agreements and collaboration methods including versioning and message type control. You can restrict who can send and receive what from and to your systems.

3 - You use the web service WS-I stack with all its components when you need DOD levels of information control and security down to the byte level. Your customers are likely large corporations or governments who already have extended IT infrastructure.

Too bad that Forrester is advising its clients to not follow the success enjoyed by those industries and users and vendors already using ebXML.

Well at least those Forrester clients will not be bidding on or launching B2B projects this year - while that leaves the field wide open for everyone else.

Congratulations Forrester Research!

Randy Heffner, Gene Leganza, and Jacqueline Stone - take a bow - I hope you are enjoying eating your stone soup paid for by your sponsors' research money.

Related links:

Adoption of ebXML - Hiding in Plain Sight - Feb 2007

Comparing the Features of ebXML, WS-I, EDIINT and more - Mar 2007

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