Hitachi Debuts "Open" TP Broker Product

The transaction processing arena has long been the domain of proprietary solutions from companies such as IBM Corp., Tandem Computers (Cupertino, Calif., www.tandem.com), NCR Corp. (Dayton, Ohio, www.ncr.com) BEA Systems Inc. (San Jose, Calif., www.beasys.com) and Hitachi America Ltd. (Tarrytown, N.Y., www.hitachi.com). With the recent version 3.1 release of its flagship TPBroker product, Hitachi hopes to capitalize on the growing need for transaction processing in the multiplatform Internet environment.

In late September, BEA purchased WebLogic Inc. (San Francisco, www.weblogic.com), publisher of a Java-based Web application server. For its part, IBM recently announced a number of initiatives intended to tie its legacy transaction processing environments – such as CICS and TXSeries – to the Internet and e-commerce through its WebSphere product line.

According to Michael Hicks, product marketing manager at Hitachi, version 3.1 of TPBroker embodies Hitachi’s new focus on openness in the transaction processing realm. "Traditional RPC-based OLTP products that were focused on client/server technologies are not typically appropriate for objects and Internet space," says Hicks.

New in TPBroker 3.1 is support for the Java Transaction Service from Sun Microsystems Inc., a specification that enables developers to write transactional client/server applications in Java. TPBroker 3.1 also provides support for traditional C++ and Java clients. In addition, Hitachi now embeds the VisiBroker object request broker (ORB) from Inprise Corp. (Scotts Valley, Calif., www.inprise.com) under the covers of TPBroker 3.1, which allows developers to create distributed applications leveraging both Java and the C++ programming languages, as well as the CORBA 2.0 and IIOP standards developed by the Object Management Group.

"We embed the VisiBroker C++ and Java ORBs in the plumbing underneath our TP Broker product," Hicks says. "This infrastructure in its basic state provides the atomic functionality that traditional TP brokers provide, along with the two-phased commit functionality and that of the traditional ORB."

TP Broker 3.1 also features Hitachi's new Notification Service, which is based on the CORBA 3.0 specification pre-released by the Object Management Group, which specifies how and when objects can communicate with each other via an event channel. According to Hicks, the Hitachi Notification Service is designed to transmit structured CORBA event data from a CORBA application object and subsequently issue the information to one or more CORBA object users who want the information.

According to Mike Gilpin, vice president with consultancy Giga Information Group (Norwell, Mass.), TPBroker 3.1’s new features add up to a highly competitive offering that will continue to challenge competitors such as BEA. "Hitachi has a good track record already, and they’re continuing to add to that track record with the new features and functions that they’re making available in this latest release of TPBroker," Gilpin explains. "I think that there are some things that BEA has and that they don’t, and vice versa -- but they’re both clearly competing in the same category of enterprise transaction servers and are able to satisfy a set of customer criteria that you’re likely to encounter at large enterprise shops."

Gilpin notes that traditional transaction processing giants are trying to carve out the high-end niches of the open systems transaction processing and application serving space for themselves. "I think [Hitachi, IBM and BEA] aren’t going to eliminate the possibility for other companies that have been in the application server industry to compete there, but they do come with a particular set of competencies among high-end transaction processing that equips them to be very competitive at the high end of the market," he observes.