Microsoft, IBM, Ariba Team Up
SEATTLE (AP) _ Three high-tech companies have teamed up to provide online businesses with a common language for finding each other and conducting transactions over the Internet.
Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp. and Ariba Inc. teamed up to create the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) protocol, which is due to be released at the end of the month.
A formal announcement is expected Wednesday.
Under this proposal, each business would have its own UDDI address, much in the same way that a Web page has a dot-com address. The UDDI address, however, would contain a wealth of information on the business, including what that business provides and how to hook up with it, either electronically or in person.
``The idea here is having a common mechanism for preferences on how to conduct business in order to have machine-to-machine transactions,″ said Marie Weick, director of e-markets information at IBM. ``You could just have people go out and make these connections, or you can have the protocol do all the work.″
Some of the information in an address would be the business name, contact information for both people and computers, and system information that would let other businesses interact directly with those computers to make sales.
To help companies with UDDI addresses find each other, the three founders are creating a registry _ a searchable database that businesses could use. The registry isn’t required for transactions, but could be useful in finding new customers or suppliers.
``It’s all about finding someone to do business with, and doing it easily,″ said Boris Potanec, vice president of corporate strategy for Mountain View, Calif.-based Ariba, which makes transaction software for businesses.
The three companies said they had another 30 or so high-tech firms on board to use trial versions of the protocol starting at the end of the month, though they would not name their partners until Wednesday.
For such a project to succeed, however, it would need the backing of either Sun Microsystems or Oracle Corp., preferably both. Sun’s computers, combined with Oracle’s database software, have the biggest chunk of the market for electronic commerce technologies.
The three companies said they will not control the new standard, but instead will hand it over to one of the Internet’s standards bodies in 12 to 18 months.
Standards bodies, like the World Wide Web Consortium, decide on which basic technologies the industry will have in common. The hypertext transfer protocol _ the ``http″ seen in Web addresses _ is one such standard that opened up the Web for wide use.
``In order for any of us to succeed, it makes no sense to compete on protocols,″ said James Utzschneider, director of Web services for Microsoft.
An open standard would make it more attractive for Sun and Oracle to adopt UDDI technology, since they could be sure that Microsoft, IBM and Ariba wouldn’t suddenly change it to favor their own technologies at the expense of their competitors.
Microsoft has been lambasted in the past for taking open protocols and added proprietary technology to render them useless to everyone except those using Microsoft products.
Recently, however, the company has been keen on adopting and maintaining open standards, which have become a critical part of the company’s Micosoft.NET strategy.