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SAP Global Data Types and Core Data Types in SAP NetWeaver™ are based on the UN/CEFACT Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS).  The specification was first published in 2004. It is fair to say that in its first year, adoption outside of SAP was slow. Fortunately, that is all changing for the better as implementation, adoption, and public proclamations of CCTS use are on the rise.  In 2006, UN/CEFACT has published the first version of the UN/CEFACT component library, an expanded version 2 is in final audit, new implementation libraries are in various stages of development by a growing number of governments and standards organizations, xml serializations of core components for specific B2B messages are being delivered and implemented, and an increasing number of standards bodies are investigating and/or adopting the methodology.

What is CCTS

With a strong basis in OO concepts, CCTS at its core is an implementation layer of ISO 11179. The ISO 11179 specification proscribes standards for data design, naming, definition and management. CCTS expands on these concepts by providing a new paradigm in defining and describing data for storage, application use, and information sharing through consistent semantics and a unique context mechanism.  Specifically, CCTS creates syntax and context neutral conceptual data models with a strong semantic basis that facilitates human understanding and reuse.  The conceptual data model is systematically transformed using the CCTS rule set into fully interoperable, context-specific physical/logical data models supporting specific business requirements.  The business use is what transforms data from context-neutral (i.e. Address) to context specific (i.e. U.S. Shipping Address).  The context-specific models are used to develop fully interoperable syntax specific data expressions – such as XSD expressions or EDIFACT Messages – for use behind and across the firewall.  (For more on the mechanics of CCTS, see Solving the Business Standards Dilemma – CCTS Key Model Concepts by SAP’s Gunther Stuhec and for an explanation of the CCTS Standards Stack see Solving the Business Standards Dilemma – The CCTS Standards Stack by SAP’s Gunther Stuhec and Mark Crawford).

Benefits of CCTS

By creating standard definitions and semantics of components, such as names, addresses, and many other fragments of data, CCTS enables semantic understanding and reuse of data, regardless of where or how that data is stored, used, or shared.  The reusability feature is expected to significantly reduce the amount of effort required to transform individual data rollups (e.g. messages or models) from one standard to another.  For example, it is estimated that by transforming RosettaNet PIPS into CCTS conformant structures, the time necessary to map a PIP to SAP IDOC and backend GDTs will be reduced by upwards of 80%.

The Role of CCTS in SAP

SAP has already made a commitment to CCTS as a key strategy for NetWeaver and Enterprise Services.  The SAP Global Data Types and underlying Core Data Types are being defined using the CCTS standard. SAP is an active member in the CCTS standards development work of UN/CEFACT, and is facilitating its implementation by key cross-industry and vertical industry standards.

CCTS Adoption Beyond SAP

Widespread adoption of CCTS is now occurring in cross-industry and vertical-industry standards, government agencies, and solution providers.

Cross-Industry Standards

Key cross industry standards organizations have already adopted the CCTS standard.  UN/CEFACT, the arm of the UN responsible for trade facilitation, has already formally adopted CCTS as the basis for all future business process and information exchange work. (See Getting Started with UN/CEFACT). The eBusiness Memorandum of Understanding Management Group (MoUMG) consisting of IEC, ISO, ITU and UN/ECE – the four de jure (force of law) standards organizations – has formally endorsed CCTS and is pushing its adoption as the key integrator of competing business standards.  OAGi has incorporated CCTS conformance in version 9.0 of the OAGi Business Object Documents (BODs).

Vertical Industry Standards

Key vertical industry standards organizations and trade group initiatives are also moving towards CCTS adoption.  Vertical standards are gaining increased importance in SAP as vehicles for incorporating user requirements on a broad scale.  The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) has already formally endorsed core components as a key aspect of their Joint Automotive Data Model (JADM).  In addition, SWIFT is using CCTS based solutions for messages in Financial Business Processes, SITPRO and EUROPRO are using it for Sanitary & Phytosanitary Certificates, the U.S Department of Defense is creating XML based CCTS conformant Material Safety Data Sheets, Eurofer is basing future European Steel Industry Messages on CCTS, and BoostAero is using CCTS for its Supply Chain Project in the Aerospace and Defense Industry. Several key vertical industry standards events have occurred over the last six months as well:

  • AIAG, in partnership with the Chemical Industry Data Exchange (CIDX) and ACORD hosted a CCTS summit in June that consisted of executive level overviews, cross-industry implementation strategy sessions, and technical training for members of those industries.  Also in attendance were representatives of OAGi and HR-XML.
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  • The CCTS Standards Team reviewed comments submitted by CCTS implementers and began development of the next version of the CCTS specification.  An initial public review is expected sometime in Q1 2007.
  • RosettaNet completed an initial evaluation of CCTS and has begun next steps towards implementation.
  • CIDX completed a white paper on CCTS adoption and has begun next steps towards implementation.
  • OASIS approved version 2.0 of the Universal Business Language (UBL) standard with its rich set of CCTS based XML schema for B2B order to invoice processes.

Governments

A number of governments have already seen the value of CCTS for improving interoperability and have adopted CCTS either at the data level or as a basis for syntax specific expressions of the data.  For example, the U.S. Department of the Navy (DON) designed their XML Naming and Design Rules around CCTS.  Conformance to these NDRs is required for all new DON XML development. The Government of Hong Kong has built its XML architecture around CCTS and the UBL NDR specification.  Denmark has formally endorsed and required the use of the OASIS UBL set of Schema’s that are based on CCTS. The German Government has made a formal announcement identifying CCTS as the future data standard for domestic affairs.

Solution Providers

In addition to SAP adoption of CCTS, others are also incorporating CCTS conformance into their products.  Oracle claims CCTS conformance in 10g.  IBM recently acquired Webify Solutions and integrated its CCTS supported Webify™ product into the WebSphere™ solution suite.  GEFEG, a solution provider of data modeling tools that support a broad spectrum of cross and vertical industry message development, has a UN/CEFACT core components library reader module. The GEFEG tool also supports defining core components using the CEFACT library.

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