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Standards body embraces Web services

The Object Management Group is taking steps to make its back-office software collaborate with newer Web services standards.

The Object Management Group, a standards body, is taking steps to make its back-office software collaborate with newer Web services standards.

At a meeting in Washington, D.C., last week the OMG adopted a specification that allows companies to share data between Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) applications and Web services software. CORBA, favored by Java supporters, is a set of programming specifications that define communications between applications and components.

The OMG is pushing for interoperability between its CORBA standard and two key Web services standards, Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).

Founded in 1989, the OMG helped lay the groundwork for object-oriented development tools and so-called middleware, or software programs that sit on top of operating systems and can run other applications. But the group's standards were surpassed in popularity by simpler Web services protocols built around XML (Extensible Markup Language). The OMG continues to fine-tune CORBA standards, but it has shifted its focus from defining middleware standards to creating specifications for modeling business processes.

"Now that different middleware seems to be showing up every two years or so, and the window to dominate the market is limited to that time, it's not realistic to think that CORBA or any other middleware will last," said Jon Siegel, vice president for technology transfer at OMG. "When companies make investments in technology, they expect it to last decades, whereas technology dominates for five or six years and is not supported after that."

The OMG already shepherds the Unified Modeling Language (UML) specification and has furthered its business modeling efforts with the Model Driven Architecture (MDA), which was released last year.

The idea of MDA is to take UML-defined business models, convert them into models for specific hardware and software, and then generate code that is compliant with specific middleware products such as Microsoft's .Net Server, Java 2 Enterprise Edition application servers or Web services software, Siegel said.

The MDA architecture has already gained support from companies including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Iona Technologies, Rational Software and Borland Software.