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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

An IBM and Microsoft Corp-backed project for web services directories takes two potentially massive steps forward next week,

Gavin Clarke writes

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Computerwire has learned the third version of Universal Description, Discovery Integration (UDDI) will be announced Tuesday, offering richer XML web services descriptions. Version 3.0 will better link UDDI directories.

Computerwire can also reveal UDDI has been adopted by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) for ratification as an independent standard. That announcement will also be made Tuesday.

Backing from OASIS should ensure broader industry input into future versions of UDDI and potentially encourage broader up-take. UDDI has been the mandate of UDDI.org, whose members include American Express, BEA Systems Inc, Boeing, Cisco Systems Inc, Ford Motor Company and Fujitsu.

UDDI was launched by Microsoft, IBM and Ariba Inc to describe and register businesses using XML, in an online database. Since its launch in September 2000 - the apex of the b2b, b2c and online market places boom - UDDI has seen mixed fortunes.

Rather than large, public online directories - as originally envisioned - customers are mostly building directories behind their firewalls. Early adopters evaluating the concept include oil giant Shell, the UK Government and the American Red Cross.

As a result, UDDI 2.0 was launched to help those building small directories. It provided a way for multiple entities in a UDDI directory to link themselves in a hierarchy or in a horizontal, point-to-point chain. UDDI 2.0 also added a mechanism for those querying a UDDI directory to verify that the statements an organization makes about itself are true.

This week public UDDI Business Registries from IBM, Microsoft and SAP AG adopted UDDI 2.0. NTT Communications is expected to launch its own registry this fall.

Doubts remain, though. Hewlett-Packard Co signed an agreement to operate a registry, but that registry's future is in doubt after HP pulled out of Java middleware and web services. HP failed to return Computerwire calls for comment.

Meanwhile, some early adopters are bypassing UDDI entirely. Deloitte Consulting principal and e-business chief technology officer Michael DeBellis reports early adopters are hard-coding together web services, by-passing UDDI and defeating the vision.

UDDI faces an additional threat from Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). Anecdotal evidence says some early adopters are putting web services data into directories based on LDAP, a well-established directory technology, instead of UDDI.

Observers feel UDDI is in danger of being sidelined by events. "We are seeing very few public UDDI registries. Where it is being used is behind the firewall," DeBellis said.

UDDI.org's answer is UDDI 3.0. The specification improves interoperability and replication between registries behind those firewalls. Siva Darivemula, strategic initiatives marketing manager for IBM's WebSphere marketing, said 3.0 is richer and contains more detailed descriptions than previous specifications.

This richness makes building and linking separate registries easier. It means, for example, changes to one company's UDDI registry can be easily recorded and replicated in a partner company's registry via UDDI's XML syntax. This avoids the need for re-programming.

Darivemula said version 3.0 will grow UDDI adoption. "People have been getting their hands dirty and deciding what to do next," he said.

© ComputerWire

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