Back around the year 2000, Hewlett-Packard introduced an early version of a web services platform called e-speak. It was a little cumbersome to come to grips with at first, but it became clear that it was a marvelous engine with just the right degree of structure. At a time when the semantic web was still just a glimmer, HP had developed a full blown system to deliver vocbulary development, registration, and discovery. It was a wonderful foray into service oriented architectures, but alas it was lost in the turmoil at HP and the growth of web services.
HP was struggling with just how much of the service architecture was to be a part of the engine and how much was to be provided by the users. In a classic market place gamble, they stripped the engine down to the barest components in the believe that wrapper services could be provided by the market.
At the current time, with the growth of application servers, the withdrawal of the public UDDI servers by IBM and Microsoft, and the slow evolution of the ebXML registries standardized by OASIS, we are in a sort of no man's land where we can't effectively build true marketplaces and compose dynamic applications. It will be back with BPEL and the web service extensions. Less a marketplace approach and more of an application server implementation of standards, but it is coming back. It is just a little frustrating that we were so close seven years ago and now we are in this gray area where we can no longer put the whole package together.