SAP Throws Support Behind UDDI

E-business software specialist SAP AG has joined Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM and Microsoft Corp. to become just the fourth node operator for universal description, discovery and integration.

As a node operator, SAP will be a point of reference for businesses that want to list themselves and their services in the UDDI business registry. An initial member of the UDDI community, SAP has been helping shape the standards for submitting businesses and services to the registry since the first UDDI specification was launched in May.

Regarded by some as key to the future of the Web services model, UDDI is designed to be a dynamic yellow pages of sorts. In theory, companies will use the registry to find Web services and integrate them into their business models in an automated way.

SAP’s decision to become a node operator is important because it adds more big-name support to the UDDI initiative, which is critical to its ultimate success. “You have to eat your own dog food so to speak,” says Peter Barth, director of technology marketing for SAP. “If you really want to have some substance behind this, you have to be a node operator.”

In its current state, the UDDI business registry is simply a listing; and companies like HP, IBM, Microsoft and SAP are trying to build support for it. SAP has vowed to use UDDI for service integration and will publish its services in the registry.

“We are just at the very beginning and [UDDI] is just building up,” says Barth. “Everything we do, we’re coming one step closer to the dream of easy integration, but it all has to work together. The next logical step is that you want to know how to use it – can a machine work with it.”

Proponents of the UDDI specification, like SAP, believe the registry will be used by businesses to find and use Web services in a dynamic way. However, there is growing sentiment that UDDI will fail to reach that end, and will end up having little impact on the future of Web services.

Oracle, though a member of the UDDI community, is one of the more prominent players questioning the role UDDI will play in the Web services space. “UDDI is not strictly required for doing Web services,” says John Magee, senior director of Oracle9i marketing. “It’s a sort of facilitating technology. The foundation of [UDDI] is HTTP, the same technology that we use for users of the World Wide Web.”

For SAP, UDDI represents an opportunity to introduce its customers to Web services. By encouraging them to publish in the UDDI registry, SAP can give its customers a sense of how Web services work, which figures to be important as SAP focuses more intensely on Web services.

Mike Gilpin, vice president and research leader for Giga Information Group, believes the relationship between Web services and UDDI isn’t a natural one. “There shouldn’t be this automatic association between UDDI and Web services,” he says. Gilpin feels, while registries are useful in certain situations, they don’t really fit in the context of Web services because companies typically purchase services from trusted trading partners.

“Nobody’s going to wake up and go ‘Gee, I wonder where I’ll buy stuff from today,” says Gilpin.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to ENTmag.com. He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.