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Iona makes CORBA Net friendly

Iona Technologies announces new object-based software aimed at making e-commerce applications based on CORBA easier to build.

Iona Technologies (IONAY) has announced a smorgasbord of object-based middleware products as part of a plan to make Internet-based electronic commerce applications using the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) easier to build.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company, best known for its popular Orbix object request broker software, announced Orbix/Object Transaction Monitor (OTM), a suite of object-based transaction middleware software. Orbix/OTM is designed to make CORBA-based e-commerce applications as bulletproof as mainframe-based transaction systems now used to anchor Fortune 500 order-processing systems, such as airline reservation and credit card applications.

Iona also debuted a revamped version of Orbix, along with two additional CORBA tools.

CORBA is a widely adopted standard that defines communications between applications and components. The standards body charged with promoting CORBA, the Object Management Group, describes CORBA as a way to allow applications to communicate with one another no matter where they are located or who has designed them.

Netscape Communications has adopted the Internet-Inter-ORB Protocol (IIOP), which is based on the CORBA architecture. Netscape says that IIOP will make it easier for companies to retrofit existing client-server applications to work with component software written in Java.

Other companies, such as Oracle and IBM have embraced CORBA as well.

But outside of Netscape's own tools, few others exist for making CORBA applications easy to build. That's put the initiative at a disadvantage Microsoft's competitive component strategy, which is based on its ActiveX and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) technology. Most tools on the market already support ActiveX in some form.

The Orbix/OTM suite includes the Orbix ORB, a set of software services called Object Transaction Services used to build transactional applications, secure socket layer (SSL) security tools, load balancing, fault tolerance tools, and additional CORBA services such as Names and Events, and tools to integrate applications with object databases. Support for relational databases is planned for later in the year.

Orbix/OTM will enter beta testing in the second quarter, and is slated to ship this summer. Iona will announce pricing when the software enters beta testing.

The revamped release of Orbix, version 2.2, includes a new graphical user interface for management and configuration of CORBA-based applications. Orbix, and the new tools, will ship by month's end on Sun Microsystems' Solaris, Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX, and Microsoft's Windows NT operating systems, priced from $2,500 to $6,500 per developer.

ORBs, such as Orbix, function as middleware that find and pass objects to requesting applications, no matter where on the network they are located.

The two additional CORBA tools are the IIOP Engine and OrbixTrader.

The Orbix IIOP Engine is a slimmed-down software engine that allows CORBA applications to execute on small footprint devices, such as handheld PCs. Iona is porting the engine to Microsoft's Windows CE operating system for handheld PCs.

Finally, Iona announced OrbixTrader, an application that can be used to search for IIOP objects. The application is in beta testing and will ship this fall. Pricing will be announced at that time.