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Microsoft ties systems to ActiveX

"Thor" will let developers tie existing host-based systems into the company's ActiveX component strategy.

Microsoft (MSFT) this week began beta-testing data integration technology that ties existing host-based systems into the company's ActiveX component strategy.

"Thor" uses Microsoft's OLE DB data access technology to provide developers a common interface to access host data stored on mainframes and on IBM's AS/400 systems through Windows-based applications.

OLE DB allows applications to access multiple data types--including text, video, audio, and data stored in relational database management systems--through a standard interface. It includes Microsoft's existing ODBC API, which provides access to databases through SQL (Structured Query Language).

Thor is an OLE DB driver that can be accessed with Microsoft's ActiveX-enabled tools: Visual Basic, Visual C++, and Visual J++, among others.

Exactly how Thor will be packaged and sold has not been determined, according to Anthony Potestivo, a product manager at Microsoft.

"Theoretically, Thor requires SNA Server. So it could be bundled or sold any number of ways. That's what we are evaluating," Potestivo said.

Thor joins two other Microsoft technologies, now in beta, that will tie Windows 95 and Windows NT-based systems into host networks.

A mainframe data replication tool, Microsoft Host Data Replicator is entering a second round of beta testing, Potestivo said. The tool, being developed under the code name Cakewalk, allows data stored in IBM's DB2 database, running on mainframes or AS/400 systems, to be replicated to Microsoft's SQL Server database running on Windows NT.

The first release of the tool, due this year, will allow snapshots of entire DB2 tables to be replicated to SQL Server. A follow-on release will allow incremental replication, which sends only those records that have been changed and will replicate data both to and from SQL Server to DB2.

A third tool, code-named Cedar, is in a first round of testing now. Cedar ties IBM's CICS and IMS host-based transaction processing software into Microsoft's Transaction Server middleware.

As with Thor, pricing, packaging, and final ship dates have not been disclosed by Microsoft.