Easier Than EDI

By Doug Bartholomew  |  Posted 2006-08-09 Print this article Print

The aviation electronics company found a way to open up its intranet to customers and suppliers—and avoid an onerous process to authenticate users.

Easier Than EDI

"Unlike EDI, this form of communications does not require common connectors," explains Kelli Wolfe, principal information-technology security specialist at Rockwell Collins, referring to the electronic data interchange format. "When Boeing communicates with us, they don't have to change the way they do things, and they can get information back from us in their own portal and format."

The format differences are smoothed by using XML—eXtensible Markup Language, the standard for Internet communication that is designed to handle structured data and supports machine-to-machine communication. Similarly, the system also uses Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), a basic XML schema that acts as a mechanism for delivering remote procedure calls between machines.

This approach is not only more economical than trying to sign up, authenticate and manage thousands of outside users, but it's also more secure than having a multitude of companies connecting directly to a Rockwell Collins portal.

Each gateway with Reactivity's software is priced between $30,000 and $80,000. Rockwell is using five of the Reactivity gateways. Including hardware and implementation, Rockwell Collins has invested about $250,000 in the project.

Wolfe says her security team deployed the gateways in less than six weeks during June and July 2005.

Rockwell Collins saved an estimated $70,000 in development time in the past year, Wolfe says. That's because developers don't have to write interfaces to these applications to authenticate outside users—that job is accomplished by the gateway.

Doug Bartholomew is a career journalist who has covered information technology for more than 15 years. A former senior editor at IndustryWeek and InformationWeek, his freelance features have appeared in New York magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. He has a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.