Microsoft, IBM, and SAP are discontinuing the UDDI Business Registry (UBR) project for Web services early next year.

UDDI is/was a spec for setting up directories of Web services for both public and within-the-firewall usage. Questions have long been raised about its success.

But Microsoft claims that the project, started in September 2000, was has come a natural end after achieving its goals. It was intended to prove the interoperability and "robustness" of the UDDI Web services registry specification, the software giant said. "This goal was met and far exceeded. The UBR ran for five years, demonstrating live, industrial strength UDDI implementations managing over 50,000 replicated entries.

"The practical demonstration provided by the UBR helped in the ratification of UDDI specifications, as OASIS standards and several software vendors now include UDDI support as a key feature in their software products."

Information currently in the registry will be handled "in accordance with the terms of the individual registry to which the information was provided," according to Microsoft. "Publication to the sites will be disabled as of 12 January 2006, and no new information will be accepted," the company said.

SAP reiterated Microsoft's contentions, while IBM had a similar take on the shutdown. "Since the fall of 2000, the UBR has been a significant asset for testing during the development of the three versions of the UDDI specifications and the vendor software based on it," IBM said.

"UBR also provided a proof of concept for early Web services business applications. Considering that Web service and UDDI specifications are now mature standards and the significant number of vendor-supplied UDDI products that are available, hosting this registry is no longer necessary," said IBM.

While the shutdown indicates that the original intent of UDDI was unsuccessful, the specification itself has changed in purpose, said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink.

"Basically, the UBR is a relic of an earlier vision for UDDI. The original vision for UDDI was as a standard that would help companies conduct business with each other in an automated fashion. The idea was that companies could publish how they wanted to interact, and other companies could find that information and use it to establish a relationship," Bloomberg said.

"Needless to say, this isn't how companies do business - there's always a human element to establishing a relationship. As a result, the UBR served as little more than an interoperability reference implementation. Now that UDDI has become more of a metadata management standard for SOA, there's little need for the UBR anymore."