Latest CORBA Spec Supports All

After a nine-month delay, CORBA 3.0 is on the horizon. The final piece, CORBA Component Model (CCM), was recently published by the Object Management Group (OMG, www.omg.org), a consortium of software and middleware development companies. CCM enables the inclusion of objects written in any language or framework -- such as Java, C++ or COM -- into a CORBA "container."

CCM was approved by a special OMG task force in August, with the OMG board of directors’ vote for against final adoption scheduled for November. The CCM specification makes assembling applications easier, says Richard Soley, CEO of OMG. Up to 90 percent of project code can be automatically generated. "It's basically a packaging technology," Soley says. "Before, you had to take the business logic that you were building and surround it with instructions for transactional integrity, transaction code, begin transaction, end transaction, rollback and commit. Now you can have a tool do that automatically, as long as you've written to the component model."

The CORBA 3.0 specification, originally due out at the beginning of the year, was delayed until the specification for Enterprise JavaBeans 1.1 was available, Soley explains. "We didn't want to leave folks in a position of not being able to use their existing EJBs in a CORBA component model." Component models also had to be developed for other languages supported as well. The delay had an added benefit of giving OMG members time to come to a consensus and add support for XML, Dynamic HTML and enterprise application integration.

CCM is designed to integrate with Java, COBOL, COM/DCOM, C++, Ada, C and Smalltalk, as well as ActiveX and EJB technology. The CCM includes features of EJB as a subset, allowing EJB technology and CORBA Components to be integrated in the same application. While EJB enables more rapid large-scale application development independent of platform, it still requires integration with other frameworks, says Anne Thomas, senior analyst with Patricia Seybold Group (www.psgroup.com). "The problem with EJB is that it only supports Java. Although Java addresses many situations, it's not the only language in the world."

Vendors actively supporting CORBA include BEA Systems Inc. (www.beasys.com), Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Inprise Corp. (www.inprise.com), IONA Technologies (www.iona.com), Oracle Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc. While Microsoft does not directly support CORBA, it is a member of the OMG. While some industry observers view CORBA and COM as competing frameworks, both sides acknowledge the need for tight integration. "Microsoft is obviously committed to keeping COM on the desktop," Soley says. "Along with that, every large enterprise has CORBA in their high-end distributed systems. Not supporting integration with COM would be like not supporting integration with COBOL when there's a lot of it out there."