Iona to roll out CORBA/EJB developers kit

Getting a leg-up on the anticipated convergence of the CORBA and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) component models, middleware vendor Iona Technologies on Monday announced a developers kit designed to generate, integrate, and manage CORBA and EJB components.

The Dublin, Ireland-based software company's OrbixHome comprises a development environment for both CORBA (common object request broker architecture) components and EJBs. It combines Iona's CORBA 3 level object request broker (ORB) engine and services; the company's HomeBase EJB 1.1-level container; EJB application interfaces; and related deployment and management utilities, according to senior product manager, John McGuire.

"There's a graphical console (user interface) to play with EJB components and you can fully integrate the Orbix CORBA servers you have," McGuire said. "The message here is consolidation. It's not a case of one or other. You can integrate the two."

The CORBA 3 specification, which includes a component model similar to the EJB specification, marks a step toward greater compatibility and similarity between the cross-platform architectures.

However, any eventual blending of the two must account for CORBA's support of multiple programming languages, according to McGuire. "I don't think you'll see a slavish mapping from EJB to CORBA," he said.

The first release of OrbixHome, which is slated for third quarter shipment, will be demonstrated at next month's JavaOne conference in San Francisco. Pricing and specific availability information will be announced at the conference.

The development environment will initially sport integration with Symantec's VisualCafe Java development tool, with others to follow, according to McGuire.

"We're leaving the debugging, team development, and code compilation to the Java tools, but OrbixHome handles packaging, deployment, and management," McGuire explained.

Follow-on releases of OrbixHome will support the development and deployment of components in such languages as C++ and COBOL, and will handle multiple component models, including Microsoft's COM+.

"For developers, questions of how Microsoft Transaction Server and security services work with CORBA are key, but that's a ways off," McGuire said. "The COM+ component thing is evolving, but currently you could, say, drive an Enterprise JavaBean from Excel. Later, as more COM+ services arrive, (OrbixHome) could be the common GUI for COM+ and EJB and CORBA."

With the first release, depending on individual developers' strengths, users are likely to choose to represent all business objects as CORBA or EJB components, although they can be deployed as either, according to McGuire.

The first release will also require that developers deploy CORBA applications using the Iona Orbix ORB. Support of other CORBA ORBs is expected to follow.

OrbixHome will run on Windows 9x, Windows NT, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX and DEC-Unix platforms and support such databases as Oracle and SQL Server.

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