HP's DCOM proposal is a Trojan horse

Ron Resnick (resnick@actcom.co.il)
Fri, 1 Aug 1997 15:52:01 +0300 (EET DST)

A bit of industry scuttlebut, inspired by a recent InfoWorld article (attached).
I was going to send this to dist-obj, but I can't slam CORBA there too
much any longer after my most recent pledge not to.
So, I'll FoRK it instead :-).

HP has been in the wintel camp for a few years now, imho.
The decision to fuse PA RISC with Intel was one side of the coin,
and the decision
to pursue COM/OLE on the software side the other. I think
HP recognized the inevitable slide to the dark side a few years ago.
They clearly decided to join rather than fight. They never
were very enthusiastic CORBA players.
When Steve Vinoski left to go to
Iona, I took that as a sign that Orb Plus had no future whatsoever, if
it ever had one previously.

I also get the sense that DEC, on the software
side, has also conceded to MS, although on the hardware side they have so
much at stake on alpha that they can't quite bring themselves to do
what HP has done.
After them, that leaves pretty much only IBM & Sun among the big boys
who refuse to cow to the emperor. They, of course, are the two
principal Java cheerleaders. So again I ask, who exactly is
championing CORBA these days? Expersoft? Iona? Visigenic? Good luck guys!
More power to ya!
Sure, the big guys like IBM, Sun, Oracle & Novell continue to develop
CORBA strategies, but they're hardly 'bet the business' strategies to
convert the whole enterprise to IIOP - that, they look to Java and NetPCs to
do. Nope - only the smallfry CORBA players still seem to believe in
IIOP becoming *TP.

Much as it irks me, I think HP may have played this one right, getting
all snuggly with Bill. Perhaps really the only way to stop the borg
is the web itself. Icky as http might be, it alone has the penetration
to stop COM. Of course as Adam recently noted, there's not much to stop
them from gobbling up the web too. Oh woe is we ;-(



HP's DCOM proposal is a Trojan horse, say OMG

By Niall McKay
InfoWorld Electric

Posted at 7:02 AM PT, Jul 31, 1997
Hewlett-Packard's proposal to bridge the gap between competing object
standards, due to be
submitted at next month's Object Management Group meeting in Dublin,
Ireland, is already
attracting both bouquets and brickbats.

The HP proposal has been dubbed a "technically brilliant but politically
doomed proposal" by a
member of the OMG's architectural board who wished to remain anonymous.

//Ron: OMG's entire CORBA architecture has been dubbed a
//"technially brilliant but politically doomed proposal" by a member
//of FoRK's architectural board who wished to not remain anonymous.

HP, with the backing of Microsoft, will recommend that Microsoft's
Distributed Component Object
Model (DCOM) be integrated into the OMG's Common Object Request Broker
(CORBA) to function as the wire protocol that allows the rival standards
to talk to each other. HP's
proposal, COM-to-CORBA Bridge Part B, is one of two being submitted to
the OMG.

The second is based on the COM-to-CORBA Part A specification, which was
designed to let
Microsoft's nondistributed COM objects talk to CORBA objects. Submitted
by Expersoft, Visigenics
Software, Siemens-Nixdorf International, Iona Technologies, and Novell,
it recommends that the
Part A specification be relaxed to embrace DCOM as well as COM.

Although both proposals promote CORBA interoperability with DCOM, the HP
goes a step further to actually bring DCOM into the CORBA standard.

"Technically we are sympathetic to HP's proposal," said Martin Chapman,
standards representative
with Dublin-based Iona. "However, politically it's unworkable because
DCOM is a proprietary
protocol, and if the OMG includes it [as the wire protocol for CORBA] it
is possible that they could
lose control of CORBA."

By coincidence, Dublin was the location of the last big punch-up between
the Microsoft and OMG
camps, in August 1994, when OMG members refused to support or include
DCOM on the grounds
that code was not frozen yet and therefore Microsoft was trying to
hijack CORBA.

Some OMG members worry that the HP submission will let Microsoft's COM
and DCOM protocols
in through the back door into CORBA.

"The fear is that if the OMG recognizes DCOM, Microsoft will use it as a
Trojan horse to derail the
momentum behind CORBA," said a member of the OMG's architectural board
who wished to remain
nameless. "Because the OMG has no control over DCOM."

Microsoft denies the charge, saying that OMG vendors should "get real"
because there are 200 million
systems that support COM and only possibly 15,000 that support CORBA.

//Ron: I wonder what that's supposed to mean. Are they talking hardware?
//Then any PC that runs a Netscape browser is in a position to 'support
//CORBA'. Are they talking software applications? Then there aren't
//200million different COM apps. I mean, I get the 'domination' point,
//and I agree with it, but the numbers look very odd.
//I think they're mixing up perhaps 200mil installed Wintel machines
//with the fact that *CORBA apps* probably number in the 5 digit range,
//not that there are only 15K machines capable of running ORBs.
//That's apples & oranges.

"We are supporting HP's proposal [for CORBA to support COM] because we
are supporting
interoperability between CORBA and DCOM," said Joe Moloney, group
manager of COM at
Microsoft. "But we are not supporting IIOP [Internet Inter-ORB Protocol]
and have no plans to
support IIOP in the future."

//Ron: what a surprise! that's like Santa Claus saying he has no plans
//to celebrate Yom Kippur any time soon.

One user said that, in an ideal world, he would prefer HP's proposal.

"It's very difficult to implement the COM-to-CORBA bridge without having
CORBA completely
take over your system," said Jim Kleckner, chief technical officer of
Cats Software, a Palo Alto,
Calif.-based vendor of risk-management software. "If CORBA provided COM
support, it would
make the integration a lot easier."

But one analyst said that the matter is not really a question of what
the user would like.

"If you're a CORBA vendor and you have some wind in your sails, right
now you would want to take
advantage of that," said Mike Kennedy, vice president of the Meta Group
in Burlingame, Calif.
"CORBA vendors realize that COM is mostly on the desktop, and that is
where they will try to keep

//Ron: ha ha ha ha. CORBA vendors couldn't keep ketchup confined in a bottle.

Meanwhile the OMG will try to ratify up to 13 new technologies for its
forthcoming CORBA 2.3 and
3.0 standards at the Dublin meeting, according to Chris Stone, CEO of
the OMG.

The industry standards body also aims to expand into "vertical domain
interfaces" that will govern
industry-specific implementation of object request brokers (ORBs) such
as those embedded in
telecommunications, health care, finance, manufacturing, and business

Vendors are currently submitting proposals governing areas such as
components, scripting, objects by
value, notification, audiovisual interface, the COM-to-CORBA bridge Part
B, and asynchronous

//Ron: NB: no multicast. And I read the component proposal. Not exactly
//earth shattering.

Users welcomed the forthcoming CORBA 2.3 and 3.0 standards but have
warned that the OMG still
has a great deal of work to do before it dispenses too much energy on
the vertical domain-specific

//Ron: translation: After about 8 years of building plumbing, they realize
//CORBA is _still_ in too much of a mess to deal with Business Objects on top.
//Cripes, is there any reason _anybody_ should give OMG any longer to futz
//around? Just give it up already!

"The OMG really needs to address some of the interoperability issues
surrounding CORBA," said
James Smith, planning and project manager for Southwestern Bell, in St.
Louis. "Object management
solutions are where network management solutions were five years ago."

//Ron: Well, the consolation there is that network management hasn't exactly
//become *TP either. Anybody seen CMIP (or OSI generally) anywhere lately?
//And where is SNMPv2 stuff at? Face it: Nobody has a lock yet on
//the universal protocol, but somehow the web just keeps rolling on......

Also expected at the Dublin meeting is the standardization of the
Unified Modeling Language,
according to Stone.

The Object Management Group, based in Framingham, Mass., is at
Hewlett-Packard Co., in Palo Alto, Calif., can be reached at

Niall McKay is a San Francisco correspondent for the IDG News Service,
an InfoWorld affiliate.

Ron Resnick IBM: ron_resnick@vnet.ibm.com
IBM Haifa Research Lab HRL world: resnick@interlog.com
MATAM 31905 Haifa, Israel http://www.interlog.com/~resnick/ron.html
Tel: 972-4-829-6491

"A shadow is the ..
... mobile, persistent, distributed, self-descriptive,
self-contained, pro-active, cooperative, trustworthy,
object-oriented, software analog of some real world object"
-- Sandor Spruit