Service Helps Small Businesses Integrate With GXS

The first in a series of announcements around Web services, GE Global eXchange Services said Wednesday that it is offering Web services transaction capabilities for small and midsize businesses.

The new capabilities are designed to help such businesses more easily integrate with the GXS trading network, as well as to other large e-marketplaces.

GXS added WSDL (Web Services Definition Language) and SOAP (Single Object Access Protocol) to its NBT (Network-Based Translation) service, so that it acts as a server for Web services.

NBT enables a small company to send documents out from its back-end system to GXS, where the document is translated and mapped to trading partners.

What the Web services capability will provide to a small business is the ability to upload, download, list or delete transaction files.

The way it works is once a business has configured a computer to be a Web services client, GXS sends out WSDL, which automates the document upload, download, list and delete functions.

GXS officials give the example of a small U.S.-based manufacturer of high-tech components that needs to check frequently for new electronic purchase orders. The manufacturer would instruct their materials planning application--thats Web enabled--to connect to NBT at frequent intervals, then identify and download any new purchase orders.

GXS NBT service supports a number of connectivity options for small and midsize businesses, including WSDL, SOAP, secure HTTP, FTP and Web forms where data can be keyed directly into a standardized Web form and sent to NBT for data translation.

This is a first step for GXS; its planning to bring Web services transaction capabilities to its large business customers as well.

GXS, of Gaithersburg, Md., operates a fairly sizable B2B e-commerce network with about 100,000 trading partners.

The Web services capability is available now. Pricing starts with a monthly subscription fee of $100, in addition to transaction fees. There is a also a $1,500 mapping fee charged each time a document needs to be translated and mapped to a trading partner. Typically small and midsize businesses require anywhere from one to four maps, according to GXS officials.