Iona extends Web services to CORBA

Cognizant of its desire to leverage existing technology investments, Iona Technologies PLC on Monday will upgrade its Web services enablement product to support legions of CORBA users hoping to jump on the open-standards bandwagon.

Orbix E2A XMLBus, Version 5.4, to be available Sept. 30, will allow developers to expose and deploy existing CORBA objects and applications as Web services, much as the product currently does for Java-based applications and EJBs (Enterprise Java Beans), said Don Roedner, director of product marketing for Iona, based in Waltham, Mass.

Web services interfaces will allow CORBA applications to be integrated more easily with other internal applications in an enterprise, without compromising the CORBA infrastructure or requiring new coding, Roedner said.

Among its key features, Orbix E2A XMLBus 5.4 adds Web services capabilities to the security component of CORBA. The product also features an Operation Flow Tool that allows IT users to aggregate fine-grained CORBA system activities into streamlined business processes, Roedner said.

Easily the leading maker of CORBA middleware, with approximately 60 percent market share, Iona is banking on an installed base of 4,500 mostly large customers -- such as Boeing Co. -- to see the value proposition in exposing their CORBA investments via Web services interfaces, Roedner said.

One of the first services-oriented, distributed computing models for application integration and transactions, CORBA is entrenched across such industries as telecommunications and financial services. However, the tightly coupled component architecture lacks the flexibility and quick-change functionality that the loosely coupled Web services model brings to bear.

Replacing a particular object in a CORBA architecture can't be done easily and impacts the entire system. So, for example, it isn't feasible for someone in a company's marketing department to extract a specific bit of application data from within a CORBA component without drafting CORBA developers to do some heavy lifting.

"The beauty of Web services is that it provides an interface to a CORBA system that otherwise would be impenetrable," said Roedner.

According to one industry analyst, Iona's latest release reaches out to CORBA customers that might have felt neglected by the company's recent push into Web services.

"Right now, CIOs are starting to notice Web services and they are saying to themselves, 'How can we continue our CORBA investment but also save money and improve services by adding Web services to it?'" said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink, in Waltham, Mass.

Orbix E2A XMLBus 5.4 provides support for users of Iona's Orbix 3 legacy CORBA offering. The product, which is priced at US$495 per development license and $2,500 per CPU for a deployment license, can run stand-alone or can be embedded into J2EE application servers from Iona, IBM, or BEA.

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