The Object Management Group will face an identity crisis if it allows one approach to object management to prevail over another when it determines an object request broker. This is the opinion of Herbert Osher, president of HyperDesk Corp, who was recently in London. He thinks that if the two remaining submissions left for evaluation […]
The Object Management Group will face an identity crisis if it allows one approach to object management to prevail over another when it determines an object request broker. This is the opinion of Herbert Osher, president of HyperDesk Corp, who was recently in London. He thinks that if the two remaining submissions left for evaluation – the Distributed Object Management Facility contributed by Hewlett-Packard Co and Sun Microsystems Inc, and joined by the NCR Corp-Object Design Inc technology, and the HyperDEC submission – are led into a winner and loser situation then the open systems movement will be the real loser because the software development world will be left to support two object management systems. Digital Equipment Corp has hundreds of copies of its Application Control Architecture out with end users, independent software vendors and in internal use, says Osher, and these are not simply going to disappear overnight, nor is the VAX/VMS user base that this technology will serve along with Ultrix users.
Osher believes that a lot of Object Management Group members would welcome a marriage between the two approaches purely because most of them operate in the Unix world but would welcome the opportunity to embrace the VAX/VMS world as well – something that the HyperDEC submission would enable them to do. Indeed, Osher argues that DEC’s Application Control Architecture has been built to support its Cohesion software engineering strategy to enable it to sell software to integrate the VAX with Ultrix. While the strength of these arguments might appeal to third party software developers, their validity for rival hard ware vendors such as Hewlett-Packard and Sun is at best probably laughable. However, this throws up another division between the crew supporting the Distributed Object Management Facility and the HyperDEC submission. The former is being driven by two companies dedicated to selling hardware, the latter is being promoted by the only independent software vendor left in the ring, and by DEC, a company repositioning itself asa software vendor.
The bitter battle to win the Object Management Group’s blessing for two rival and competing object request broker technologies threatens a schism in the object oriented programming world as damaging as that between Unix International and the Open Software Foundation, Herbert Osher of Hyperdesk Corp believes. He told Katy Ring of his fears.
Software vendors tend to welcome industry moves to make it easier to deploy their applications among a variety of environments with the minimum of effort. Hardware vendors pushing tin in the Unix world require added value for profitability. Hewlett-Packard has invested a lot of time and effort in establishing itself as a commercial leader in object-oriented technology via NewWave and although the Distributed Object Management Facility is not associated with any particular implementation of NewWave its success or failure will impact the credibility of NewWave. While it is technically feasible for the two approaches to object management to be brought together and this would be of greatest benefit to users and developers (CI No 1,678), this outcome seems increasingly unlikely. For once it is Hewlett-Packard that can be caricatured as the bad guy – it alone appears unmoved by pleas for unity and the creation of a truly open software environment. Graham Greenhill, marketing manager for Hewlett’s co-operative object computing division said that while he would like to see all the submissions come together he was not optimistic that this would happen. He said the issue was that Hewlett-Packard and Sun had invested a lot in the technology and the application programming interfaces and believed that theirs was the technically correct approach. He added that this view has been endorsed by NCR and Groupe Bull SA and that, consequently, there is not a lot of room for flexibility, since to bring the HyperDEC technology into play would require changes in the Distributed Object Management Facility. As explained a few days ago these change
s would not be dramatic (CI No 1,678).
Nevertheless, Greenhill thought it unlikely that such changes would be made although he finished by commenting that he didn’t mean it won’t happen. However, if it doesn’t happen Hewlett’s obdurate attitude could end up damaging the Object Management Group’s credibility as an arbiter, since the Group has been viewed with suspicion by many software companies that have dismissed it as a marketing arm of Hewlett-Packard. A view that certain individuals within Hewlett don’t mind promoting, arguing that standards bodies are part and parcel of the marketing machine nowadays. Ironically, all the players are most interested in what IBM Corp and Microsoft Corp are up to, though neither has submitted technology – Microsoft has been unchar acteristically quiet and IBM has also yet to speak. Most think that both will be late into the market with object request broker technology, but also know that this doesn’t matter because they have such a strong hold on the market. However, the Object Management Group’s hand in promoting object technology would be greatly strengthened if it could bring Hewlett, Sun and DEC together. For if they go their separate ways the wide commercial acceptance of object technology will probably await the blessing of IBM and Microsoft and that is clearly not to the advantage of any vendor with technology in the ring.