Online Yellow Pages for business set for launch

By Ashlee Vance, Network World |  Business

A Web-based directory for businesses that has earned the blessing of industry heavyweights is set to launch by next month, opening new ways for businesses to find partners and complete transactions together online.

The Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) registry promises to make it easier for businesses to provide information about their products and services on the Web, as well as locate partners and customers. A number of registries that use differing protocols exist on the Web already, but Microsoft, IBM and Ariba said they want to promote a common, shared set of identifiers. Companies can submit information about their businesses to the registry free of charge, the vendors say.

Microsoft, Ariba and IBM announced the Business Registry last September and billed the project as the first true Yellow Pages for the Web. The trio of vendors put out a beta-test version of UDDI in November and expect a completed version of the directory next month, a Microsoft spokesman says.

While Microsoft, Ariba and IBM have led UDDI's development, many of the business world's biggest names have joined the project, which they claim could ease the way in which companies conduct business online. American Express, Compaq, SAP AG, Dell and Sun signed up to help out with UDDI at its launch. Since that time, the number of companies backing UDDI has grown to 130, with vendors including Hewlett-Packard and Intel eventually joining after some initial hesitation.

The UDDI system will contain 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 what protocols it supports. The Yellow Pages adopts current government codes for tagging types of business operations as well as international and technology-based naming protocols. In addition, it 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 more specific directories on top of UDDI as the project moves along. They hope to have UDDI as an open, common starting point with consistent identifiers for companies' business practices. With that base, vendors can offer other services on top of the directory, which could let them generate additional revenue.

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