RSS has been the darling of Webloggers and news hounds since it first began appearing in the late 1990s as a way to syndicate Web content. Up to now, however, there have been few applications for the technology within enterprises.
That may be changing.
Two enterprise RSS providers are teaming with XML security company Reactivity to provide secure RSS features that could allow the technology to be used for everything from notices of credit card transactions to supply chain management, according to Andrew Nash, chief technology officer of Reactivity Inc., which makes secure XML infrastructure products.
On Monday, Reactivity, of Belmont, Calif., will announce new features for its secure XML gateway products that can secure, encrypt, and authenticate access to RSS feeds, as well as transform RSS data to and from other XML formats.
Reactivity will also announce partnerships with RSS service providers SimpleFeed Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. and FeedBurner of Chicago-based Burning Door Syndication Services Inc., to offer a secure RSS service to publishing services and clients, said Joelle Gropper Kaufman, director of marketing at Reactivity.
RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication or, sometimes, RDF Site Summary, is a form of XML that is used to syndicate Web page content. The new features will solve the “chicken and egg” dilemma of RSS, providing a platform on which enterprises can create new services that use RSS.
The market for secure RSS is almost nonexistent right now, Nash said, but experts say that the environment is akin to the early days of the Internet, before the advent of the Netscape browser in the 1990s that enabled secure transactions using HTML and spurred e-commerce. The advent of secure RSS could have a similar effect, Nash said.
“Theres a range of opportunity around stuff like controlled information delivery. We want to create the next entry point —to expand RSS and make it useful to enterprises by adding (content) signing, trust, and content security,” Nash said.
But serious questions remain about secure RSS, including which version of RSS will be adopted by enterprises and whether new standards are needed to secure the popular information syndication medium, he said.
“There are a lot of different versions of RSS that are slugging it out,” Nash said.
Reactivitys gear will act as an intermediary for enterprise RSS deployments, doing content signing, encryption, decryption and auditing. The RSS feeds can then be passed on to RSS service providers like SimpleFeed, which clean up RSS feeds to comply with various RSS aggregators that are requesting the feeds, Nash said.
The Reactivity product will allow companies like SimpleFeed to reach out to financial institutions, who can create RSS interfaces to back-end processing systems through SOA (service-oriented architecture) and Web services systems, Nash said.
SimpleFeed is planning a trial with a New York-based bank to use the technology to send RSS notifications to customers when their online bank statements are available, said Mark Carlson, SimpleFeeds CEO.
At SimpleFeed customer Intuit Inc., IT administrators foresee applications of secure RSS to expand the kinds of content Intuit syndicates using RSS, said Scott K. Wilder, Intuits manager of community and collaboration activities.
Intuit, of Mountain View, Calif., currently uses SimpleFeed to syndicate content from the companys message boards and blogs, but Wilder said it foresees using secure RSS to share documents between developers at the company or push out public relations material.
However, integrating RSS with Intuits software to deliver sensitive financial information is still a long way off, Carlson said.
“We have no plans to do that right now,” he said.
Financial data would be “the last thing” Intuit would consider trusting to RSS until there is proof that the medium is secure, he said.
Adoption of secure RSS may be similar to the adoption of online shopping, with consumers reluctant to trust the medium with their most sensitive data, Carlson said.
“Blogs are the first thing, but when you talk about financial information, we want to do everything possible to make sure the information is very secure and that this has been very thoroughly tested. Its OK if Intuits not an innovator in that,” he said.