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Comdex: B2B standard continues to garner support

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LAS VEGAS - Microsoft, IBM and Ariba now stand ready to deliver a high-powered version of their Yellow Pages for the Internet after the trio released Thursday the beta version of their Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) Business Registry.

The UDDI registry should stand as a way for companies to share a common platform for providing information on their business and then locating partners or customers. With a number of registries on the Web today with differing protocols, Microsoft, IBM and Ariba wanted to promote a common, shared set of identifiers. It is cost-free for companies to submit their information to the registry. Following this, the new version of Yellow Pages will be launched. This new service will include not only information but also electronic-commerce capabilities.

Microsoft, IBM and Ariba announced the project in early September and said the beta would appear a couple of weeks after the announcement. A close-to-complete version of the beta was readied by mid-October, but the vendors waited until Thursday to show the technology to the public and to coordinate wider industry support.

UDDI is a way for businesses around the globe to use a common platform for identifying their location, what kinds of services they provide and what types of technology they use and support. Microsoft, IBM and Ariba hope that as many companies as possible will agree to adopt the UDDI protocol and place their businesses' information into the registry. The three tech giants said at the time of the original UDDI announcement that the project will only be truly effective if it receives wide industry support with a myriad of companies listing their services on the directory.

In September, a number of companies agreed to join the UDDI project in an advisory role, including American Express, Compaq Computer, SAP, Dell Computer, Nortel Networks and Andersen Consulting. Around 40 vendors signed up for the project at its launch, and since that time the UDDI project has made significant headway toward attracting more participants.

The UDDI project announced that another 94 companies signed on at the time of the beta's release. Hewlett-Packard, Boeing and Intel lead the list of new inductees. HP and Intel actually announced their participation in the project some time ago; however, the founders of UDDI waited until Thursday to make the official declaration.

Microsoft, IBM, and Ariba will maintain the servers which will collect the registry information for about the next 18 months, when the project will be turned over to an as-yet unnamed standards body. Updates to the registry are scheduled to appear in March 2001 and December 2001, with more complex features added for varying types of business-to-business transactions at each step.

The UDDI system contains 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 also what technology they can respond to. The Yellow Pages section adopts current government codes for tagging types of business operations as well as international and technology-based naming protocols. In addition, the Yellow Pages 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 even more specific directories on top of UDDI as the project moves farther along. They hope to have UDDI as an open, common starting point with consistent identifiers for companies' business practices. With that base, vendors can build other services around the directory and generate some profits off the standard.

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