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Infravio spiffs up Web services registry idea

The start-up plans to release a product that it calls a Web services marketplace for finding available services and controlling their use.

Start-up Infravio is reviving the notion of a Web services application marketplace to set itself apart in the market for Web services management tools.

The 5-year-old company at the end of June will release X-Registry, an application designed to help corporate customers better control usage of Web services applications within their own company and with business partners. The new product, which starts at about $35,000, came from work Infravio did with customer Sabre Holdings, which is using Web services to make a wide range of its travel-related services available to customers and business partners over the Internet.

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With the registry, Infravio is trying to cash in on a long-held idea that never fully got off the ground. Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI)--one of the first XML-related protocols called Web services--was first developed as a sort of yellow pages to locate available services. The idea was to provide a large repository of available services on the Internet to which anyone could connect.

That vision never really took hold, in part for business reasons. Integrating complex systems between companies proved to be very challenging technically, and corporations tend to work within a network of known partners rather than rent software from a little-known intermediary.

Infravio executives said that its X-Registry improves on UDDI to achieve a similar vision of a Web services marketplace. Calling it an "Amazon.com for Web services," Infravio President and CEO Jeff Tonkel said X-Registry will give companies a central point for viewing available services and a structured process for keeping track of Web services in use.

X-Registry consolidates information from existing UDDI registries as well as those using the ebXML (Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language) standard. It is designed to offer more useful business information than UDDI, allowing a software programmer to view technical details of Web services as well as business-related information, such as the cost of a Web service and the promised performance levels.

Infravio's new product, which complements existing application-monitoring and -management products, is also an attempt by the company to offer something unique in the crowded and immature market for Web services management tools.

"What's happening in the Web services management space is that vendors are still trying to find the killer app," Tonkel said. "This (registry) may be more appropriate to what people are trying to accomplish in early stages of (Web services adoption)."

A number of smaller companies have developed products to track the performance of Web services applications, but analysts expect established systems management companies, such as Computer Associates, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, to dominate Web services monitoring within a few years. Last month, Infravio established a partnership with systems management company NetIQ, in which NetIQ led a round of funding for Infravio and pledged to resell the start-up's Web services monitoring tools.