XML and ASP - panaceas or what?

Are XML and Application Service Provision panaceas for e-business, or just more IT false dawns? POSC members’ opinions differ.

Fluid transactions depend on interoperability so how do different e-commerce hubs talk to each other? The answer seems to be with difficulty. Suppliers are ‘going crazy’ with proliferating hubs. For the standards bodies, a common XML-based taxonomy is what is required and PIDEX, API and POSC ‘should get together on this problem.’ But the portal community offers little support for standards. The consensus is that XML itself is as near to a standard as we are going to get. While some believe that de-facto standards may emerge, Petris’ Jim Pritchett opined “Standards will not emerge – but technology may circumvent some of these problems.” Louis Hecht from Open GIS informed the audience “You are not alone in facing these problems. The US Government shares them and has the same misgivings about XML and whether it will fulfill its promise. Taxonomy is the key issue.” While Shell’s Nico de Rooij asked “in 10 years time from now will we still face the same problems and will there be a ‘new XML’?”


ASP offers great scope to vendors to offer jam tomorrow, but initial feedback from early adopters suggests that it may be harder to deploy than first thought. Shell’s Nico de Rooij believes that ASP is a disaster for data management and pleaded to vendors and ASP’s to “get together and sort this out - don’t leave the integration misery to the oil companies.” Total’s Philippe Chalon outlined its experience of ASP with GeoNet. This has been disappointing due to poor bandwidth in remote parts of the world, problems of data sharing, plotting, printing and security. Chalon insists “We need a data model, an exchange format and Open Spirit.” Chalon believes that an ASP must be a data management service provider and that oil companies will need and use several ASP’s and SSP’s. GeoNet’s Bob Aydelotte believes that a service provider can do all of this. “It is a tremendous challenge but not insuperable.” BP Amoco’s Hunter Rowe added that ASP is ‘obviously valid,’ but all of these tools come unstuck when confronted by issues such as bandwidth to Azerbaijan or Angola!

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