Testing still B2B bottleneck
Testing and verifying trading partner connections, a time-consuming process,
has become another B2B bottleneck, according to Phil Robinson, strategic
accounts manager at Drake Certivo Inc., a supply-chain testing vendor based in
Newport Beach, Calif.
For a large manufacturer, setting up B2B connections with smaller trading
partners involves a lot of manual testing by developers on both ends, he
''I think the major push back from B2B right now is the old story of how much
time people spend,'' said Robinson, who as part of his job works with RosettaNet
on furthering implementation of its trading partner standard. ''We're seeing
firms in the high-tech industry where they have to use RosettaNet and then they
have to deal with the auto industry or the oil industry and they all have their
own vertical flavor of XML. It's very time consuming.''
Despite the potential benefits of B2B, sorting through all the standards and
technologies is still mostly a manual process, he noted.
''It's old-fashioned trail and error done by two people who may be hundreds or
thousands of miles apart,'' Robinson explained. ''Just the conversations are time
consuming, if you can imagine having to be on the phone talking back and forth
for weeks and weeks to get everything right.''
While his focus is on RosettaNet, Robinson said his experience while talking
to IT professionals is that the problem of time-consuming testing exists
regardless of the standards utilized, including XML in all its flavors and
The solution, in Robinson's view, is to automate as much of the testing as
possible. This can be done, he said, if a major manufacturer can send its
smaller trading partners a CD with testing tools that allow the partner to test
its compliance with all the standards required by that manufacturer.
The test CD can contain what Robinson calls a ''Mini-Me'' emulator of the
manufacturer's B2B engine. The developers for the trading partner can then test
their application to make sure it meets all the standards for B2B communication
without having to interact with the main B2B system, he explained.
This saves time because the trading partner's developer does not have to keep
phoning or e-mailing the manufacturer's IT department to see if the links are
working, Robinson added.
This ''Mini-Me'' emulator is part of the Jump Start tools for testing B2B
applications that Drake Certivo, the official Compliance Solution Provider (CSP)
for the RosettaNet Ready Program, unveiled this month, Robinson said.
For more information, go to http://www.certivo.net.
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.