Until PubChem came on the scene, the state of chemoinformatics compared to bioinformatics was 20 years behind," says Christopher Lipinski, who formulated the eponymous rule-of-five criteria for drug bioavailability.
The number of free chemistry databases on the Web just keeps growing. A recent Depth-First article discussed twelve of them. It turns out that Chembiogrid from Indiana University maintains a list of forty free chemistry databases, most of which are alive and well.
As this trend continues, the need for database standards will become painfully obvious. Not only will interoperable infrastructure technologies and user interface standards need to be developed, but thorny intellectual property issues including access, chain of title, and digital rights will need to be resolved. However, the most immediate need is much more down-to-earth: to involve chemists with the growing number of free alternatives to the chemical information monopoly they've come to rely on.