Microsoft, OMG square off for control of Internet objects

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 27 Mar 96 11:06:23 -0500

Microsoft, OMG square off for control of Internet objects

By Tom Quinlan
InfoWorld Electric

Posted at 3:29 PM PT, Mar 24, 1996
Microsoft Corp. and the Object Management Group (OMG) are lobbying hard to
make their respective architectures the standard for transferring across the
Internet objects that contain live data.

And the Open Applications Group (OAG), which counts SAP AG, Oracle Corp.,
Sybase Inc., and PeopleSoft Inc. among its members, may emerge as the final
arbiter of this debate.

Like any politician, Microsoft is attempting to strike a delicate balance
between its Distributed COM (DCOM) architecture, formerly called Network OLE,
and the OMG's Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) 2.0
specification, which is expected to be the dominant object architecture on
Unix and OS/2 servers.

Microsoft wants to assure OAG members that its ActiveX component
architecture, which is based on OLE custom controls (OCXes), can effectively
be used for the World Wide Web or to link desktops to either DCOM or CORBA
server environments.

To accomplish that goal, Microsoft is now working more proactively with
third-party software developers to create bridges between ActiveX components
and CORBA, sources said.

But the OMG is lobbying to merge with the OAG in an effort to make CORBA and
OpenDoc the de facto standards for handling transactions over the Internet,
said Chris Stone, president and chairman of the OMG. That merger could take
place April 15, when DB/Expo is held in San Francisco.

Most recently, OMG on March 21 embraced OpenDoc as its standard. See _OMG
endorses OpenDoc as component standard_.

Some OAG members, however, are skeptical that the two organizations will
merge, and they think Microsoft, with help from SAP, has a strong shot at
convincing the OAG that ActiveX can be used effectively to link desktops to
both DCOM and CORBA environments.

"The big problem now is that everyone uses a different object technology,"
one software developer said. "What Microsoft is promising to provide is a way
of transferring data from one corporate site to another so that both
businesses recognize what the object is, and that the object represents the
same thing to both companies."

That essentially is what the OAG is attempting to define. Currently, the
association of database and client/server application vendors is defining
transactions, how the data should be represented, and the best way to
transport that data.

Microsoft wants to ensure that DCOM is the transport mechanism for companies
to share object and legacy data over the Internet, and the software giant has
already made a number of presentations to the OAG in hopes of getting that
standards body to adopt Microsoft's technology.

The OAG hopes to define most critical transactions -- and the best way to
transmit the data live -- by the end of this year, said Rick Bergquist, the
OAG representative for PeopleSoft, and choose a transportation mechanism in

To bolster its chances of providing that transportation layer, Microsoft is
becoming more aggressive in making sure that ActiveX -- the follow-on to OCXes
-- works well with the OMG's CORBA 2.0, sources said.

But this does not mean Microsoft's position on CORBA has changed.

"We've had no change in our status with OMG. We respect the members of the
OMG, and we will work with OMG to help third-party vendors build CORBA-to-COM
gateways as several have already done," said James Utzschneider, product
manager for enterprise marketing in Microsoft's developer division. "But
interoperability through third parties is the summit of our ambitions."

However, some software vendors said Microsoft is becoming much more
responsive in working with them to ensure compatibility between DCOM and

The OMG has also seen a substantial change in Microsoft's willingness to work
with the standards group to reach some level of compatibility.

"Over the last few months, Microsoft has become much more cooperative," said
Lydia Bennett, director of marketing for the OMG. "They recognize it's a
brand-new world out there."

Last week, the OMG adopted a standard that defines how desktop OLE will
communicate with the CORBA 2.0 specification.

By the end of this month, Microsoft is expected to provide the OMG with
enough information to ensure that DCOM will be compatible with the CORBA 2.0
specification, Bennett said.

The OMG can be reached at _ Microsoft can be reached at

Jason Pontin contributed to this article.