RSS, the simple publish-subscribe mechanism for syndicating XML content, is about to start expanding into business applications, and service providers are going to play a crucial role in facilitating the first enterprise deployments.
RSS needs a bit of help to become acceptable to enterprises. Originally designed for publishing information to the world, it has absolutely no inherent security, which is something of a barrier to enterprise adoption for business applications. The other problem with RSS is a proliferation of formats, which creates a significant disincentive to embark on a development project.
XML appliance vendor Reactivity is launching a box today that provides an off-the-shelf solution to the security problem, by adding access control and SSL encryption to feeds. It can also transform any suitable web services output into the RSS format for onward delivery, thus solving the current dearth of RSS support in most enterprise applications.
The company has recruited two feed aggregators to solve the 'format wars' problem. SimpleFeed and FeedBurner both provide RSS syndication and aggregation as a service. In combination with the Reactivity hardware, they can now offer secure publishing and consumption of RSS feeds to the enterprise market. Potential applications include disseminating information about pricing and stock status to demand chain partners, or notifying bank customers when their online account statements have been updated. When Microsoft firms up its plans for RSS support in the next version of Windows, even more interesting applications that tie back-end feeds into Office applications will doubtless emerge.
Reactivity working in combination with these service providers is another example of the services ecosystem I mentioned last week. This one in particular illustrates the important role that web standards are increasingly going to play in enabling these tie-ups.