Novell has made a new Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) server available free to developers, adding secure identity management.
Nsure UDDI Server removes two well-known weaknesses in the UDDI web services standard: security and service registry management. The company said that these stand in the way of providing a "yellow pages of services" over the internet.
It is also the first product in Novell's Destiny roadmap for future development of its eDirectory software.
"[Novell] has seen a lot of adoption of UDDI inside a corporation," said Eddie Budgen, European director for e-business strategy at the company. "Private use of a directory is the first point of reference."
But the longer-term aim is for a directory available over the internet, and that makes identification security critical.
As with other UDDI implementations, Nsure UDDI Server lets businesses register their web services for look-up either inside or outside the company of origin. It also requires the service-publisher and consumer to verify their identities.
But Neil Macehiter, senior consultant at analyst Ovum, does not believe that this addition would lead to early UDDI adoption outside the firewall.
"There's a fundamental difference between trust and identity. Two businesses need to trust each other. Anyone can go and check what services are available," he said.
The software is available from 17 December as a free download here. It is not restricted to existing Novell users and includes everything needed to run the software, including a copy of Novell eDirectory, said Budgen.
Since its inception UDDI has been both a threat and an opportunity for Novell, because it carries out some, but not all, of the functions already provided by its widely used, but proprietary, eDirectory.
Macehiter suggested that the move is in keeping with Novell's strategy to position itself as the identity company, and to establish its credentials.
The company has a contributing place on the UDDI standards organisation and other web services groups such as WS-Security. It has also associated its Destiny roadmap with the Liberty Alliance specifications for federated network identity.
In making the eDirectory software available for free, Novell may be able to seed the market. But Macehiter warned that "it would be on a hiding to nothing if it tried to impose this as the UDDI standard".
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