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UDDI v2 Anointed Open Standard by OASIS

Open standards consortium OASIS has ratified the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration specification (UDDI) version 2.0, a move analysts called a positive step in the Web services movement.

UDDI is a vital cog in enabling machine-to-machine communications via Web services protocols. It serves as an XML-based phone directory to allow enterprises to find other firms on the fly so they can conduct electronic business with them.

The directories are considered building blocks along with fellow Web services specs SOAP and WSDL . But to date the development and ratification of a UDDI protocol has lagged behind other specifications as developers haggle over issues such as whether to publish UDDI private directories within their own networks or in a more public "yellow pages" approach.

UDDI 2.0 allows developers to classify a Web services directory.

Many research firms who follow Web services see the success of Web services tied to a service-oriented architecture (SOA), a method for building a corporate software infrastructure that allows different applications to exchange data and processes regardless of the operating systems or programming languages underlying those applications. The contention is that dynamic Web services software won't work with other static software models.

ZapThink Senior Analyst Jason Bloomberg said without UDDI, it could be very difficult to get much benefit out of an SOA.

"UDDI is particularly important because it enables Web Services to be location independent -- that is, Web Service consumers need not know ahead of time what system or network a Web Service is running on," Bloomberg told internetnews.com. "Furthermore, because UDDI registries return the WSDL files that describe the desired Web Services, the consumers of those Services can bind to them dynamically at runtime -- in other words, perform just-in-time integration."

Redmonk Senior Analyst Stephen O'Grady concurred, noting that when "you spoke with actual Web services customers few people were actually using it. Instead they were embracing SOAP and WSDL, and didn't embrace UDDI and its directory services concept."

O'Grady sees the UDDI embrace as a step in the evolution of Web services.

"More and more customers today, however, are looking at enterprise trends like the portal and saying why couldn't a services driven architecture work? Combine that with the pressure they're under to consolidate their hardware and software, and cut costs in the process - and you have an environment nearly ready for services driven architectures. Because of the advancement of the standard, and more importantly the vendor buy in it has, we see UDDI as playing a significant role in this evolution," O'Grady told internetnews.com.

To be sure, ZapThink Senior Analyst Ronald Schmelzer said that despite the positive spin the news has, the challenge OASIS will face is that companies are "still struggling with trying to understand how UDDI, and indeed the "discovery" aspect in general, fits into the Web Services picture."

"Many companies currently are using Web Services in a point-to-point fashion, and as such, UDDI is a bit of the red-headed stepchild of the three core Web Services specs," Schmelzer told internetnews.com. "However, as companies realize that there is significant economic and business agility benefits in moving to a Service-Oriented Architecture, they will realize that UDDI is no longer an option, but a necessity. As such, UDDI will assume its rightful place as an equal player with SOAP and WSDL."

For that to happen, Schmelzer said firms must build or acquire the loose coupling, asynchrony, and coarse granularity aspects of service-oriented architectures. Even then, UDDI will have to be improved to handle those features.

"We are looking forward to v3.0 as being the version that can authoritatively handle those SOA requirements," he said.

There is no OASIS timetable on version 3.0, but work on it is already underway, according to OASIS UDDI specification technical committee co-chair Tom Bellwood, also of IBM.

"UDDI v2 is being widely implemented today. It provides powerful features like business relationships and external taxonomy validation," said Bellwood. "As OASIS now continues moving version 3 towards a standard, with its support of multi-registry environments and digital signature features, we expect the use of UDDI in all environments to expand even further."

Members of the OASIS UDDI specification technical committee include Computer Associates, Fujitsu, IBM, IONA, Microsoft, Novell, OpenNetwork, Oracle, SAP, SeeBeyond, Sun Microsystems, Tata Consultancy Services, and others.