HTNG Announces Open Data eXchange Initiative
Monday, June 25, 2007
Project Will Facilitate Data Exchange among Any Compliant Systems
Will Ease Migration of Legacy Interfaces to TCP/IP
ORLANDO (June 25, 2007) – Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) today announced that it will develop an open standard through which any two systems used within the hotel industry can exchange any mutually agreed data. Based primarily on prior HTNG work, initial versions of the standard should be available by late summer.
“Today, structured XML-based messages are a preferred approach for many system interfaces,” said Douglas Rice, Executive Vice President and CEO of HTNG. However, there can be significant barriers to their rapid adoption, especially by legacy systems. The HTNG Open Data eXchange initiative – known as ‘ODX’ for short – will allow older technology products to achieve some of the benefits of web services and TCP/IP networking quickly, without the need for major rearchitecting of applications.”
“ODX will improve the reliability of any interface, and it also enables health monitoring using standard tools offered by a variety of technology providers,” continued Rice. “Equally important, it significantly reduces the development ‘plumbing’ effort required just to establish basic connectivity between any two systems.” Migration to ODX will enable development organizations that are just starting out with web services to gain experience with a simple implementation, as well as to realize some immediate benefits. Where appropriate, vendors can continue to the next step, migrating to full XML web-service interfaces over time.
The HTNG Open Data eXchange initiative will be released by HTNG in phases, starting this summer with a web service for the exchange of unstructured information. Over time, the specification will add structured definitions and XML schemas to support the exchange of common operational, financial, and statistical data concepts. In many cases, these will be adopted from past or future HTNG workgroup efforts, such as the Back Office Integration specification currently under development within the HTNG Property Web Services workgroup. For statistical data, ODX will support the exchange using industry-standard definitions, such as those included in the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry. HTNG will also propose new and revised messages, as appropriate, to the OpenTravel Alliance specification, to help ensure continued consistency between OpenTravel and HTNG messages.
Meeting Unfilled Needs
HTNG’s Property Web Services Solution workgroup created the ODX initiative in order to serve two short-term needs that had been identified by many hotel companies and vendors:
- A simple, industry-standard mechanism by which any system can send to another system, or request from another system, any data that both systems agree to exchange – regardless of whether a standardized interface specification exists or has been implemented. By implementing the framework once, a vendor will be able to connect to any other ODX-compliant system to exchange data, by simply changing the message parameters. ODX will handle all aspects of getting the information from one system to the other, including addressing, authentication, encryption, acknowledgement, and error handling. Most implementations also support logging and queuing at one or both ends of the interface, or this can be handled by an intermediate messaging server.
- A migration path for legacy interfaces to the web services world. Many legacy interfaces utilize proprietary message formats and older methods of delivery, such as FTP or “file drop” across a serial cable. These delivery methods suffer from numerous reliability issues. ODX allows vendors to deliver the existing message payload over a robust TCP/IP network architecture, requiring only minimal changes to the applications at either end of the interface. This will improve interface reliability and enable the “health monitoring” of the interface using standardized tools.
Over time, HTNG will also define schemas for the transfer of standardized data, which can be used where statistical, operational, or financial data needs to be exchanged between systems, but where a fully functional interface is not required. Significant work in this area is already being undertaken by the Back Office Integration team of the HTNG Property Web Services workgroup, with respect to standardized definitions of financial and operational statistics. A library of statistical definitions will be published, and HTNG members will be invited to propose additions or extensions to the library when they need to transfer information that was not previously defined within the library.
About Hotel Technology Next Generation
The premier technology solutions association in the hospitality industry, HTNG is a self-funded, non-profit organization with global scope. HTNG members include leading hotel and hospitality companies, technology vendors serving the hospitality market, and other industry members including consultants, media, and academic experts. HTNG’s members participate in focused workgroups to bring to market open solution sets addressing specific business problems and needs. The HTNG certification program provides a “seal of assurance” for products that conform to HTNG specifications.
Currently nearly 400 corporate and individual members from across this spectrum are active HTNG participants. Workgroup proceedings, drafts, and specifications are published for all HTNG members as soon as they are created, encouraging rapid and broad adoption. Specifications are released to the public domain when they are approved for certification or when the workgroup has completed its work, typically after no more than 18 months. For more information, visit www.htng.org.