Ariba, IBM and Microsoft have teamed up to provide an online database of companies that want to conduct business on the web.
The three software providers plan to make a framework available this week for listing the basic contact information for businesses by industry, similar to a yellow pages listing.
The framework is called Universal Description Discovery and Integration (UDDI) and is based on XML (extensible markup language), a web standard for data exchange. Under the proposal, each business would have its own UDDI address that would contain information such as what the business provides and how to connect to it.
Marie Weick, director of e-markets information at IBM, said the idea is to have a common mechanism for preferences on how to conduct business in order to have machine-to-machine transactions. Instead of having people go out and make the connections, the protocol can do all the work, she said.
The initiative will allow businesses to register on a central database by providing corporate information such as company contact details, industry category and services or products. For example, it would allow a company to automate the integration of a business-to-business transaction.
John Mann, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, said that UDDI lets a company find out how its computers can talk to another company's computers.
"This would be useful, especially later on when my computer has to talk to dozens or hundreds of other companies' computers and I can't reasonably manage it all by phone calls and emails," he said.
Ariba, IBM and Microsoft said they had another 30 or so hi-tech firms that will use trial versions of the protocol starting at the end of the month. Partners are expected to be announced Wednesday, and there are plans to turn the framework over to one of the internet standards bodies in 12 to 18 months.
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