Last week marked another milestone for the future of XML. In addition to the release of the World Wide Web Consortiums XML Schema, the scores of companies involved in the UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) project announced that the business registry for Extensible Markup Language-based Web services is now live.
"Its an essential part of the future of computing as I see it," said Toufic Boubez, chief technology officer of Saffron Technology Inc., in Morrisville, N.C. Boubez said systems will be based on loosely coupled services that can be assembled at design time or run- time. "The trick is, how do you find the services you need?" asked Boubez, a co-author of the UDDI specification.
The UDDI registry, which acts as a yellow pages for businesses to register information about their Web services and find others Web services, can be found through IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., and Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Wash. Although on different sites, the free registry nodes have identical data.
Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., last week announced it will provide a third registry node by the end of the year. Ariba Inc. had been set as a third node host, but the Mountain View, Calif., company will instead become a registrar that recruits companies to post services on the directory.
Potential users said UDDI is only one piece of the puzzle and companies need to consider security and individual business processes.
"Certainly its convenient from the pure data side. Its the business side that complicates matters significantly," said Nico Potgieter, CIO of Thinq Learning Solutions Inc., a corporate learning company in Billerica, Mass. "Its a step in the right direction."
Boubez and others said the public registry is the start of enabling a less expensive, more automated exchange of business data over the Web. "The true value will be when industry groups and organizations start using their own private UDDI nodes," allowing access to select partners and providing more security, Boubez said. He predicted private nodes will emerge next year.
"There is definitely a huge market for private directories," said Marc Mercuri, senior director of customer relationship management products and services at Gazelle Systems Inc. In Newton, Mass. Those private registries could be for internal use in large enterprises or for external use by partners, Mercuri said.
Gazelle, which sells Web services aimed at the hospitality industry, is considering starting its own registry eventually. "Right now, theres not a screaing need for it," said Mercuri."Restaurant groups generally are not cutting-edge IT."