Chapter: XML and Web Services : Applied XML : Implementing XML in E-Business


Data Dictionaries, Partner Interface Processes (PIP), The RosettaNet Implementation Framework, Business Process Modeling and Analysis, Future of RosettaNet.



Named after the famed Rosetta Stone that helped in the understanding of ancient languages, RosettaNet not only seeks to standardize the grammar and language for Information Technology (IT) vendors to participate in e-business transactions but also to specify the business processes in which they take place. RosettaNet has gained much attention from the heavyweights and over 400 participants in the IT industry, many of which are also members of ebXML and other efforts. RosettaNet was formed in 1998 as an independent IT and electronic components–focused industry consortium formed by leading manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and resellers. Its main goal is to produce an e-business specification for the industry that optimizes supply chain interactions. The result is a comprehensive set of standards and guidelines for an automated, Internetbased exchange of business information and transactions between trading partners. RosettaNet was an early proponent of defining B2B process standards in addition to simplifying business data formats, and perhaps their work has influenced the direction that other formats such as ebXML are headed. In essence, the group is focused on enabling businesses to conduct dynamic trade by means of providing flexible trading networks, improving operational efficiency, and presenting new business opportunities. An illustration of RosettaNet’s role in e-business is shown in Figure 20.7, which references the eCo Framework as well.

The main components of the RosettaNet e-business architecture consist of the following:


   Data dictionaries


   Partner Interface Processes (PIPs)


   The RosettaNet Implementation Framework (RNIF)


   Business process modeling and analysis


These components are described in the following subsections.


Data Dictionaries


The goal of RosettaNet dictionaries is to eliminate or reduce semantic confusion in sup-ply chains due to differently defined terminology. There are actually two RosettaNet dic-tionaries: the Business Dictionary and Technical Dictionary. The RosettaNet Business Dictionary defines a common set of properties and data elements for describing business properties for specific industries. This includes definitions of catalog properties, partner properties, and business transaction properties.

The Technical Dictionary specifies common properties for IT products. The main goal is to simplify the process of locating and comparing the pricing and availability of similar products from multiple vendors. Dictionaries are applied on a per-industry basis, such as the Information Technologies Technical Dictionary or the Electronic Components Technical Dictionary.


Partner Interface Processes (PIP)


RosettaNet Partner Interface Processes (PIPs) control and coordinate the exchange of messages between internal IT systems and trading partners to support specific business-to-business processes. They are individual dialogs that contain the specific sequence of steps required to complete B2B processes such as catalog management, order manage-ment, inventory management, and customer service and support. Each PIP specification includes a business document that contains the required vocabulary, business process, and choreography of the message dialog. The PIPs also define the specific information exchange and transactions each step in the business process triggers. PIPs are grouped according to core processes known as clusters. These clusters include Administration, Partner, Product and Service Review, Product Introduction, Order Management, Inventory Management, Marketing Information Management, Service and Support, and Manufacturing. Table 20.2 provides a sample listing of PIPs dating from mid-2001.


TABLE 20.2    Examples of RosettaNet PIPs

PIP    - Description


PIPlB1        Manage product information subscription

PIP2A1       Distribute new product information

PIP2A2       Query new product information

PIP2A5       Query technical information

PIP2A8       Distribute product SKU

PIP3A2       Query price and availability

PIP3A3       Transfer shopping cart

PIP3A4       Manage purchase order

PIP3A5       Query order status

PIP3A6       Distribute order status


The RosettaNet Implementation Framework


The RosettaNet Implementation Framework (RNIF) provides a structure for intersystem communication, messaging, transaction control, and response mechanisms as well as the implementation guidelines for creating components that facilitate the execution of PIPs. The RNIF core specification outlines the protocols used for the reliable, secure, quick and efficient exchange of PIPs and related business process information.


The RNIF is defined through the use of PIP implementation and message guidelines. These define the vocabulary, structure, and allowable data elements as well as values and value types for each message exchanged in a PIP. The message guidelines are composed of three major parts: the preamble header, service header, and service content. These are all packaged for transport as MIME messages that are packed, validated, and transmitted between RosettaNet participants through server-to-server transfers or transfers through an intermediate human-controlled browser.


Business Process Modeling and Analysis


Although the dictionaries, PIPs, and RNIF form the core of the RosettaNet specification, supporting business process modeling and analysis activities surround them in a layer of additional capabilities. The business process modeling involves a number of activities around identification and quantification of the various elements of a business process and the possible reengineering of those processes to simplify their implementation. It involves the creation of an “as-is” model of current business processes and generic “to-be” processes to be modeled in the RosettaNet architecture. A “blueprint” is created from the “to-be” model that identifies all the partner roles, interactions, and interfaces required to execute a business process. This includes specifications for PIP services, transactions, and messages. A PIP protocol is then created from the blueprint that results in a valid XML document based on the data dictionaries and RNIF.


Future of RosettaNet


A key element in this vision is a shift in strategy from being focused on providing a cer-tain number of business process definition documents known as Partner Interface Processes (PIPs) to an e-business “ecosystem” that focuses more on proof-of-concept implementations, small subsets of existing PIPs, and implementation with a limited set of trading partners. Ten production milestones have been created that are meant to reflect real-world implementations and full-fledged tests of the capabilities of the RosettaNet specifications. Each of these milestones consists of a small ecosystem of companies committed to implementing a particular business process scenario, in a production or nontest capacity, by a certain date. Each milestone deals with different, specific problems within a supply chain. For example, in the Electronic Components industry, 15 compa-nies are committed to implementing a closed-loop “Design Win Management” process by December 2001. Cisco’s iHub project is committed to implementing 24 PIPs that provide greater supply and demand chain visibility by the third quarter of 2001. Each of these milestones is committed to tackling different business process scenarios and con-sists of three phases of implementation with a steadily increasing number of trading part-ners at each phase. Some of these processes will result in implementation of RosettaNet PIPs, whereas others will result in the creation of new processes to be defined by RosettaNet.


RosettaNet claims that each implementation of a “delivery-win” PIP saves each partici-pant over $400,000 per trading partner. Rather than producing a laundry list of require-ments, the organization is focused on an engagement model that stipulates that it can only focus on work that is supported by a significant number of board members. When these board members indicate that they want to attack a particular problem, RosettaNet then assigns resources and ramps up its work activities as quickly as possible. RosettaNet has announced another major milestone—the implementation of RosettaNet Basic, which is aimed at bringing the middle-tier of trading partners into the loop. This is done by greatly simplifying the process of implementing a RosettaNet solution, providing greater involvement of software developers and OEMs, and requiring large trading partners to perform RosettaNet-based exchanges with at first hundreds and then thousands of trading partners. RosettaNet Basic milestones are focused on defining use-cases and implementa-tion guides, working with solution providers to specify a target price and implementation methodology, and encouraging solution providers to produce a series of product offerings based on the RosettaNet Basic requirements. RosettaNet and these solution providers will then market this offering to mid-tier trading companies.


RosettaNet is also flexing its international muscles by aiming to have a group of six Japanese companies and 60 of their trading partners communicating using RosettaNet specifications. Later, this same group will expand its scope to over a thousand trading partners. RosettaNet has also announced its support of the ebXML effort as well as sup-port for the use of UDDI registries and repositories. In particular, RosettaNet is support-ing the ebXML messaging service in its RosettaNet Implementation Framework (RNIF).

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