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UDDI should flourish under OASIS

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Microsoft, IBM and the other ad-hoc " trustees " of the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) initiative have finally found a standards body to take the technology under its wing.

To no one's surprise, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), the leading proponents of XML as the lingua franca of computer communication, has agreed to host and foster future development of UDDI. You can read the details of the agreement at www.uddi.org/news/uddi_news_07_30_02.html , which was announced along with the release of Version 3 of the UDDI specification.

I'm not a big fan of UDDI because I think what it does can better (and more economically) be achieved with directory services even with DNS. But more and more directory vendors (such as Sun, Computer Associates and Novell) are tossing in the towel and simply developing UDDI front ends for their directory products rather than trying to convince the world that the UDDI repository isn't needed. That's probably the best way to go: Jump on the UDDI bandwagon, but bring the instrument (i.e., the directory) you already know how to play.

Now that UDDI is in the OASIS house, the ability to work closely with the folks on the Directory Services Markup Language (DSML), Security Assertions Markup Language (SAML), Business Transactions (BTP), and the various Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language (ebXML) technical committees could go a long way toward making UDDI a usable, rather than just a theoretically possible, technology.

In the call for members, UDDI Technical Committee co-chairs Tom Bellwood of IBM and Luc Clement of Microsoft state that the group's scope is " the support of Web services discovery mechanisms in the following areas:

a. Specifications for Web services registries and Web service interfaces to the registries.

b. Replication or synchronization mechanisms across multiple implementations.

c. Security facilities for access or manipulation of the registry and maintaining data integrity. "

Replication and synchronization are something the DSML folks have already started on. Access security was ably demonstrated by SAML recently. Specifying Web services interfaces is part of the purview of the ebXML committees. There is a lot of expertise available at OASIS, and the UDDI people should take advantage of it. Adapting someone else's initiative is very often much more efficient and productive than re-inventing the wheel.

There are times when it is useful to start with a clean slate when it's appropriate to begin anew. Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is a good case in point. What began as a quick and easy address lookup protocol has been stretched to its limits. It's time to move on to the work being done in XML by the DSML folks. But don't overlook the DSML committee's work on synchronization and replication when it comes to implementing these things for UDDI.

The trick really isn't in identifying the need everyone should agree that a way to discover Web services automatically is a necessity. The trick is deciding when to remodel and refurbish and when to plow under and start fresh. What Kenny Rogers would call the knowledge of " when to hold 'em " and " when to fold 'em. "

RELATED LINKS

Key Web services technology moves on
Network World, 08/05/02

Core Web services specification turned over to standards body
Network World Fusion, 07/31/02

Dave Kearns is a writer and consultant in Silicon Valley. His most recent book is "Peter Norton's Complete Guide to Networks" published by SAMS. Dave's company, Virtual Quill, provides content services to network vendors: books, manuals, white papers, lectures and seminars, marketing, technical marketing and support documents. Virtual Quill provides "words to sell by..." Find out more at Virtual Quill or by e-mail at info@vquill.com

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