Sun exec preaches UBL

Universal Business Language (UBL), a proposed OASIS specification for electronic commerce, presents the potential of enabling smaller businesses worldwide to engage in global commerce alongside major vendors, a Sun Microsystems Inc. official said during a presentation in Menlo Park, Calif. on Tuesday.

John Bosak, Sun’s Distinguished Engineer and chairman of the OASIS (Organization for Structured Information Standards) Technical Committee on UBL, noted that most e-business is done in a business-to-business fashion. He stressed that a UBL infrastructure could level the playing field for smaller companies that need to conduct electronic business with large companies with expensive EDI systems.

“I think this is how the developing world gets into the party,” Bosak said.

UBL defines a library of XML-based electronic-business documents for standardizing functions such as purchase orders and invoices. It plugs directly into existing traditional business, legal, and records management practices and eliminates the re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based supply chains, according to Bosak. It also fills the “payload” slot, or document format, in b-to-b commerce frameworks such as the UN/OASIS ebXML initiative and various Web services schemes, said Bosak.

Version .7 of UBL has just undergone a review period. Version 1.0, expected in May, will incorporate comments from a just-concluded review period. Adoption by OASIS would be expected by the end of the year if the organization chooses to take such an action, Bosak said.

He would not provide specific details on how Sun might productize UBL, although he speculated that Sun could conceivably offer a low-cost Linux system with a UBL and ebXML stack on it.