IBM Systems Journal

Business-to-business integration with tpaML and a business-to-business protocol framework

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In business-to-business interactions spanning electronic commerce, supply chain management, and other applications, the terms and conditions describing the electronic interactions between businesses can be expressed as an electronic contract or trading partner agreement (TPA). From the TPA, configuration information and code that embody the terms and conditions can be generated automatically at each trading partner's site. The TPA expresses the rules of interaction between the parties to the TPA while maintaining complete independence of the internal processes at each party from the other parties. It represents a long-running conversation that comprises a single unit of business. This paper summarizes the needs of interbusiness electronic interactions. Then it describes the basic principles of electronic TPAs, followed by an overview of the proposed TPA language. The business-to-business protocol framework (BPF) provides various tools and run-time services for supporting TPA-based interaction and integration with business applications. Finally, we describe examples of solutions constructed using TPAs and BPF.