IBM is donating the software code for a Java application programming interface (API), or a set of instructions, that connects businesses to a giant online "Yellow Pages" created by Microsoft, Ariba and IBM.
The online directory, called the Universal Description Discovery and Integration (UDDI) Business Registry, will help companies advertise their services and find one another so they can conduct Web transactions. The project is supported by more than 100 companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Sun Microsystems and Nortel Networks.
Big Blue is giving away the Java technology to its own open-source effort called the IBM developerWorks Open Source Zone. Open-source efforts allow anyone to modify and redistribute the software.
Bob Sutor, IBM's program director for e-business standards strategy, said companies can use the donated technology, called UDDI for Java, so they can link their services to the online registry.
Companies supporting the open-source project include Compaq Computer, Bowstreet, CrossGain, DataChannel. Sutor said the group will soon meet to discuss how to improve the product in the future.
Sutor added that the Java technology and UDDI project are all part of IBM's efforts to create the technology for Web-based software and services.
IBM is one of many software companies, including Microsoft, Sun and Oracle that envision a future where customers won't have to buy and install software on a personal computer, but will be able to download what they need over the Internet. Such a vision, the companies say, could be revolutionary for the industry, eliminating installation problems, maintenance costs and other upgrade concerns.
IBM plans to ship its Web-services software over the next six months, IBM executives said.