May 1, 2001
RosettaNet is delivering on the promise of extensible B2B
The Electrified Supply Chain
by Rajeev Kasturi
Over the past decade, the information technology (IT),
electronic components (EC), and semiconductor manufacturing (SM)
industries have seen unprecedented growth. New products and
services are fueling continued expansion, led by investments in
science and technology and demands for high productivity. IT,
EC, and SM industry supply chains are now more complex and
dynamic. There is a real need for an effective, fast
communication and transaction backbone to satisfy unique and
growing e-business needs.
RosettaNet, a self-funded, nonprofit consortium of over 250
IT, EC, and SM businesses, has been working since 1998 to
establish and implement industrywide standards for e-business.
Trading partners adopting RosettaNet standards will benefit from
a common language and communication protocols based on Internet
and XML technologies. Using the standards also will result in
reduced transaction turnaround times, greater transparency in
translation and integration with backend systems, reduced costs,
and increased efficiency.
RosettaNet wants be the "lingua franca of
e-business," an important goal given the huge economic
impact of the IT, EC, and SM industries: RosettaNet reports that
its members alone represent a trillion dollars traded per annum.
The initiative has the support of industry heavyweights,
including IBM, HP, Compaq, Dell, Lucent, 3Com, Agilent, and
Cisco Systems, coupled with strong participation by solution
partners such as SAP, CommerceOne, WebMethods, Vitria
Technology, Andersen Consulting, and Viquity.
What Are the Standards?
RosettaNet standards address four aspects of transactions
between trading partners: business processes, data elements,
communication protocols, and product/partner codification. In a
nutshell, these four components encapsulate the exchange of
information among trading partners.
RosettaNet's Partner Interface Processes (PIPs) are elements
that define business processes among supply-chain partners, such
as pricing and availability requests, purchase orders, and order
acknowledgements. PIPs are system-to-system, XML-based dialogs
carried out based on certain specifications and guidelines.
PIPs lie at the bottom of a hierarchy headed by clusters and
segments. Clusters represent fundamental business process
groups. Clusters are further broken down into segments, which
represent interenterprise processes involving different types of
trading partners. Segments consist of PIPs that define specific
For example, Cluster 3 is for order management, and it
includes a Segment A that pertains to quotes and order entry.
This segment has seven published PIPs, including 3A1 (Request
Quote), 3A2 (Request Price and Availability), and 3A3 (Transfer
Shopping Cart). Each PIP comes with a message guideline and XML
document type definition (DTD).
Dictionaries, which define data elements, come in three
flavors: Business Dictionary, IT Dictionary, and EC Dictionary.
Business data entities and properties are defined in the
Business Dictionary, the IT Dictionary defines IT products and
properties, and the EC dictionary defines components and their
properties. All these elements are mapped to codification
standards such as UN/SPSC.
One of the fundamental requirements for meaningful data
exchange and efficient information processing for products and
services is commonly accepted codification standards.
Fortunately, RosettaNet supports three widely accepted
codification standards. The Data Universal Numbering System
(DUNS) is maintained by Dun & Bradstreet and identifies a
business and its location. The Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)
identifies products, and the United Nations/Standard Products
and Services Code (UN/SPSC) robustly and comprehensively
classifies products and services.
Another fundamental requirement for meaningful data exchange
and information processing is a communications protocol. The
RosettaNet Implementation Framework (RNIF) adequately covers
this need for communication standards. The framework defines
open exchange protocols and guidelines for communications
between applications on networks. These specifications encompass
various requirements such as message packing and the transfer of
PIP objects between Web or browser servers; they incorporate
protocols such as Common Gateway Interface (CGI), HTTP, and
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The RNIF also supports digital
signatures, digital certificates, and SSL to ensure business
transactions are secure.
Any standard or technology, however technically perfect, is
only as good as its adoption and penetration. A standard becomes
permanent (as much as that is possible in this fast-paced,
ephemeral, Internet world) when it evolves as an integral
component of business-as-usual.
RosettaNet already appears to be achieving this status, given
its initial implementation successes and strong support from
industry leaders and solution providers. RosettaNet has quickly
moved ahead of Internet B2B "noise" to be viewed as a
dominant standard, at least in the IT, EC, and SM arenas.
RosettaNet also hopes to unveil plans for e-business standards
for other industries. It remains to be seen if RosettaNet will
continue to lead; nothing about B2B is yet written in stone.
Participation Levels in RosettaNet Supply Chain Partner
If you are a member of the information technology, electronic
components, or semiconductor manufacturing supply chain, you
qualify to be a RosettaNet Supply Chain Partner. By providing
the subject matter expertise and human resources for interface
development project teams, you will have direct involvement in
the development, approval, adoption and implementation of
RosettaNet standards. Solution Partner If you provide the tools
or services -- and can offer a solution -- to aid Supply Chain
Partners with implementing RosettaNet standards, you qualify to
be a RosettaNet Solution Partner. Coalition Partner If you are a
trade association or not-for-profit government agency, you
qualify to be a RosettaNet Coalition Partner. You will be
involved in the development of RosettaNet standards and serve to
enlarge the support base and constituency of RosettaNet by
increasing exposure to its projects and standards.
From RosettaNet: www.RosettaNet.org,
How to Join link
Rajeev Kasturi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a consultant on B2B and SAP technologies and author of the
book SAP R/3 ALE and EDI Technologies published by
McGraw-Hill. He welcomes comments and suggestions.