How useful is Dynamic Service Discovery?

In my last blog, I talked about UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) including where it’s been and where it might be going. In this article I’m going to take a different look at UDDI and consider the question, how useful is it to find what you’re looking for? One aspect of UDDI that has been overlooked by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), the Web Services standards body, is how to find services faster and more efficiently.

UDDI allows service providers to publish data about themselves and their Web Services, and supports simple searching for services. The standard UDDI search uses a single search criterion, such as business location, business name, service type by name, business category or business identifier. This limits the efficacy of UDDI for general service discovery. An example is searching by business category; the search might return the service you want, but you might need to filter the results to find it.

IBM is developing an XML-based UDDI “exploring engine” that provides a standard interface for searching business and service information in single or multiple UDDI registries. They refer to this engine as “Business Explorer for Web Services” (BE4WS). The engine is based on a proposed UDDI Search Markup Language (USML) used for search requests, and supports multiple queries, key words, UDDI sources and aggregation operators. BE4WS will take advantage of some new features in the UDDI OASIS standard Version 3.0.2, and if adopted, will help standardize searches. Though this new initiative by IBM – along with the new UDDI Version 3.0.2 standard – will address some of the dynamic service discovery problems, standardization of registry listings and descriptions is still lacking.

The way services are published also will need to be controlled to enhance UDDI’s usefulness. Think of using a Web search engine – how many links in the search result set are relevant to your search? Better search engines make Dynamic Service Discovery more useful, but that’s not the complete answer. Until we see standard organization and listing of services, the potential of UDDI will remain unharnessed.

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