A Web-based directory for businesses that has earned the blessing of industry heavyweights is set to launch by next month, opening new ways for businesses to find partners and complete transactions together online.
Microsoft, Ariba and IBM announced the UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) Business Registry in September last year and billed the project as the first true Yellow Pages for the Web. The trio of vendors put out a beta version of UDDI in November and expects a completed version of the directory to arrive in May, a Microsoft spokesman said.
While Microsoft, Ariba and IBM lead UDDI's development, many of the business world's biggest names have joined in on the project, which they claim could ease the way in which companies conduct business online. American Express, Compaq Computer, SAP AG, Dell Computer and Sun Microsystems all signed up to help out with UDDI at its launch, making a total group of around 30 vendors. Since that time, the number of companies backing UDDI has grown to 130, with some vendors like Hewlett-Packard and Intel deciding to join after some apparent hesitation.
The UDDI registry promises to make it easier for businesses to provide information about their products and services on the Web as well as locate partners and customers. A number of registries that use differing protocols exist on the Web today already, but Microsoft, IBM and Ariba said they want to promote a common, shared set of identifiers. It will be free for companies to submit information about their businesses to the registry, the vendors have said.
The UDDI system will contain three types of information, divided into what the vendors refer to as white, yellow and green pages.
The White Pages will contain business names, descriptions of the type of business, and other information regarding what kinds of services a vendor uses and what protocols they support. The Yellow Pages adopts current government codes for tagging types of business operations, as well as international and technology-based naming protocols. In addition, it arranges companies by geographical location. The Green Pages should provide more specific information on what types of documents a company can receive, the entry points for transactions, and the technology they currently interact with and support.
Many of the companies involved in the project hope to build more specific directories on top of UDDI as the project moves along. They hope to have UDDI as an open, common starting point with consistent identifiers for companies' business practices. With that base, vendors can offer other services on top of the directory which could allow them to generate additional revenue.
Microsoft, IBM and Ariba will maintain the servers that collect the registry information for about the next year, at which time the project will be turned over to an as-yet unnamed standards body. Updates to the registry are scheduled to appear throughout 2001, with more complex features added for varying types of B2B transactions.