Oracle Joins UDDI

Oracle Corp. has thrown its weight behind the online business-to-business directory formed by IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Ariba Inc. designed to help bring together developers interested in creating Web-based services and products.

Oracle decided to join the consortium, after some internal debate, because it felt the three founding members had made the processes to create the base technology less proprietary. The online database is centered on the Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) standard.

"We had issues with the process itself, rather than what they were trying to do," said John Magee, Oracle's senior director of marketing for the 9i database. "We didn't feel it was open enough for a directory that was marketed as being available for everyone in the industry."

In particular, Oracle felt that the founding members' veto power, which could potentially enable a voting bloc over the other member companies, was not in the best interest of the standard. The UDDI group has resigned that power, according to Magee.

Oracle is not the only heavyweight that declined to join UDDI in the initial phases only to come on board shortly afterward. Similarly, Hewlett-Packard Co. had reservations about joining the group because it felt IBM, Microsoft, and Ariba were trying to tie the product too tightly to their own technologies.

But HP was encouraged by the three founding members opening up the technical process to other companies' contributions and recently joined the effort.

"HP's and Oracle's concerns were similar, but we worked individually with the UDDI group," Magee added.

The online database allows a company to register all of its basic corporate information, as well as all the technical aspects of its online products, such as what transport protocols it supports. One of the major benefits to the registry is that it will serve to automate the integration of b-to-b transactions.

While available technologies such as Java and XML help make such integration easier, developers still have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to interact with someone else's business. The upcoming database can automate much of that process, consortium members have said.

"Today, businesses integrating the technical aspects of their business is a laborious process of custom coding large portions of its products so they can work with someone else's. This [database] can save time and money by matching up only those companies that are a good technical match," said an IBM spokesman.

When the project was announced in early September it had about 35 supporters. As of this week it has over 130 companies endorsing it, including Dell Computer Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Ford Motor Co.

Users interested in obtaining more information about the project can go to www.uddi.org.

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