Thursday, March 13, 2008


Congratulations to Covisint

I was very pleasantly surprised to run across an article in my printed copy of Information Week (25 February 2008) titled "Covisint Drives New Niche in Health Care Exchange Market." The story announced that Covisint will be using its "secure on-demand collaboration platform" to support "the nation's first statewide e-heath network" in Tennessee. But what was the big news to me was that Covisint now hosts exchanges in all sorts of different industries. I had just never noticed, so I want to offer my belated congratulations to Covisint for reasons I'll now explain.

It turns out that I have some very significant history with Covisint. I was in charge of XML architecture and standards at CommerceOne in 1999 when automakers GM, Ford, and Chrysler set up Covisint and chose our "Marketsite" software as the "secure on-demand collaboration platform." A joint approach to e-business for multiple automakers made a lot more sense than going it alone because so many suppliers in the auto industry provide materials and components to more than one OEM. This deal was huge for CommerceOne because it was the first significant vertical or industry-focused exchange we'd won – up to then we'd been selling to telcos setting up horizontal, regional exchanges. The deal happened in the fall of 1999 and caused a huge run up in CommerceOne's stock price that I took full advantage of at the end of December when our 180-day post-IPO "lockup" expired and we were allowed to sell stock. I have always felt grateful to Covisint for their vote of confidence in CommerceOne because of this very direct impact it had on my life since 1999.

But in the following couple of years Covisint just didn't get the traction that everyone hoped and the original automotive B2B exchange more or less fizzled out, and at the same time CommerceOne went into a tailspin like so many other Internet bubble companies. So after I left CommerceOne and started teaching at UC Berkeley in 2002, I didn't pay much attention to Covisint, which by then had been sold and reorganized.

I always had a very abstract notion of the "marketplace" platform we invented at Veo Systems (a start-up CommerceOne acquired in 1998) – you can see this in the patents we filed in 1998 (like this one) that describe how:

A market making node in a network routes machine readable documents to connect businesses with customers, suppliers and trading partners

The self defining electronic documents, such as XML based documents, can be easily understood amongst the partners.

Definitions of these electronic business documents, called business interface definitions, are posted on the Internet, or otherwise communicated to members of the network.

The business interface definitions tell potential trading partners the services the company offers and the documents to use when communicating with such services.

You see — there is no mention of telcos or auto makers or healthcare providers or any specific industry here – it is just a platform on which a market operator hosts services implemented using XML document interfaces. That's what we invented back in 1998, and it is really gratifiying to see how Covisint now embodies this elegant vision as a platform for services in so many different industries.

So congratulations, Covisint.

-Bob Glushko

Thanks for the recognition. I just joined Covisint last year, but, I can say that we are making great strides and bringing some fantastic technology to other industries, especially in healthcare. The partnerships that we just announced with AT&T and Microsoft will bring our capabilities to the masses. And, as an organization, we are growing again and making a dramatic impact, especially in the healthcare space. Again, thanks for the mention. And, if you haven't seen us lately, visit us at ; Thanks Michael Beaton
Very useful material, much thanks for the article.
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