Last week, reports our sister publication ClieNT Server News, Viper, Microsoft’s transaction processor, crawled out from under the rock where it’s been hiding and unexpectedly showed two sets of fangs – TP functions and the ability to turn virtually any client application into a server. The beta of Microsoft’s still- unnamed transaction processor – which […]
Last week, reports our sister publication ClieNT Server News, Viper, Microsoft’s transaction processor, crawled out from under the rock where it’s been hiding and unexpectedly showed two sets of fangs – TP functions and the ability to turn virtually any client application into a server. The beta of Microsoft’s still- unnamed transaction processor – which will probably be called Transaction Server or Active Transaction something – has what was described as all the server plumbing needed for any application to work as a server. Redmond predicts that thousands of the ISVs who have been writing ActiveX-based client apps instead of grappling with the complexities of servers will jump at this chance to wade into the server market. It claims 80 companies who’ve played with Viper alphas have signed up to endorse it. Redmond has kept Viper internals more secret than most of its programs lately, but with the beta out they become public immediately. It turns out Viper combines thread pool connection management, transaction management, context management, state management, ODBC security and load balancing across servers. When multiple ActiveX-based apps or ActiveX controls are dumped into Viper, what’s supposed to emerge is a coordinated transaction processing package. At first we thought some bright programmer had suddenly noticed that when a single application is dumped into Viper it’s instantly transformed from a client app to server. But Viper program managers claim it wasn’t happenstance, that Viper was planned that way from the start and that that’s the secret they’ve been keeping for lo these many months. Meanwhile, the Viper team and its TP pal Tandem claim that rival industrial-strength transaction systems such as Top End and Tuxedo don’t work very well over the Internet. Existing two-phase commit standards such as X/Open’s XA spec and IBM’s LU6.2 Synch 2 are not net-friendly, Redmond says, and it’s up and written its own idea of a standard. Two-phase commit is the mechanism that ensures both servers involved in a transaction are ready, and that both sides of a transaction actually take place. Without two-phase commit transaction processing becomes a guessing game. The Microsoft-Tandem spec is called the Transaction Internet Protocol or TIP. They’ve done a reference implementation in Java, written 12 pages of documentation and sent it to the Internet Engineering Task Force. Tandem and Microsoft are also working on a TIP interoperability demo they plan to unveil some time in Q1. Both companies have posted the TIP proposal on their web sites and on the IETF site at http://ds.internic.net/internet- drafts/draft-lyon-itp-nodes-00.txt.