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HP talks up e-speak

Web standards too low-level

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e-speak, the software with the Orwellian name, has a history that goes back to the mid-90s, when a handful of Hewlett-Packard engineers were trying to find a way to get a computer to deal with new kinds of things, like an audio stream, without waiting for the next release of the operating system.

It has now evolved in to what HP calls its new middleware for enabling interaction between Web-based commercial services.

HP positions e-speak as the next logical step in Internet technology, enabling e-commerce in heterogenous software and hardware environments.

Web standards like HTTP, HTML and XML are "too low-level to deal effectively with the semantics of service interactions", Rajiv Gupta, general manager of HP's e-speak operation and lead architect, claims.

"Current Internet technology falls short in three areas: developing and deploying new services quickly, linking services together, and moving beyond the current Web paradigm (one that connects people to machines) to one that connects machines to machines instead," he says.

What kind of services will businesses develop based on e-speak? According to HP, billing, automated supply chain management, procurement and ERP are a few ideas. For consumer oriented services, financial planning, trip planning, and traffic routing services are examples.

For the past few months, Par Andler, HP's European Business Development Manager for e-speak, has delivered the e-speak pitch to business managers not, as is traditional, to the IT manager. "Corporate executives are pretty quick to grasp what e-speak can do," says Adler. "It is not a hard sell."

You can download the free e-speak engine from the main e-speak Web site, where you will also find pages with tantalising titles, such as A Tutorial in Developing E-Speak Services and Essential E-Speak.

The e-speak engine is getting about 4000 downloads per month, according to Andler. "We are measuring momentum in the uptake of e-speak by the number of pilots and downloads because there are as yet no commercial reference customers to point to.

"The download count bodes well if you think about Apache, which gets about 2500 downloads per month," Andler told The Register [Is this claim true? -Ed]

Once the service is created you can upload it to a kind of "free trade zone" on the Internet and make it available to users as a registered e-service. From the client side, which doesn't necessarily have to be e-speak-enabled, you go to one of these zones to look for a registered e-service.

Andler offers the mobile e-service bazaar in Finland where more than 100 service providers participate as an early example. Checking it out, the site seems to be under construction and The Register found just three solution providers offering their wares.

e-speak is popular in Northern Europe, where early adopters in the telco and mobile services sector seem to like it. Despite its beta status, the likes of Ericsson, Telia, Helsinki Telephone Company and Nokia are all working on e-speak projects, as are early adopters in the mobile Internet space, such as Sweden's Aspiro and the US/Finnish newcomer, Solid Information Technology. ®

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