Look it Up: Microsoft's E-Commerce Directory Gains Support

Hewlett-Packard and Intel have joined a project led by Ariba, IBM and Microsoft to create a giant online Yellow Pages for companies that want to conduct business online.

Last month, Ariba, IBM and Microsoft proposed a Web standard and a new initiative that allows businesses to register in an online directory. The directory will help companies advertise their services and find each other so they can conduct Web transactions. The consortium of companies plans to unveil a test version of the online directory early next month.

The group originally signed on about 30 supporters, including Sun Microsystems, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer and Nortel Networks. Since then, the organization has signed on nearly 70 more companies, the largest being computing giant HP and chipmaker Intel, according to a representative for the project.

The proposed standard, called Universal Description Discovery and Integration (UDDI), will allow businesses to describe the services they offer and will allow those services to be located by other businesses via the online directory.

The initiative dovetails with HP’s e-services plan and its accompanying E-speak software. HP wants to make it possible for companies to offer online services to others who want to take advantage of them, and E-speak is software that can glue such services together. For example, a company that sells shoes could use E-speak to cut electronic deals with other companies that specialize in authorizing credit card transactions or in shipping products.

An HP representative Thursday said the company joined the UDDI project now because the company needed to evaluate the initiative's plans. HP will ensure that its E-speak technology will be compatible with UDDI's technology, the representative said.

Intel representatives could not be reached for comment Thursday, but the chipmaker has long supported industry standards, and e-commerce is strategic to the company's goal of selling more high-end servers.

New supporters for the project include Boeing, DataChannel, Dun & Bradstreet and Vitria.

The proposed UDDI standard is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), a Web standard for data exchange that is fast becoming the preferred language of online business.