Seán Baker, Vinny Cahill, and Paddy Nixon., Bridging boundaries: CORBA in perspective., IEEE Internet Computing, 1, 5, 1997, 52-57
IEEE Internet Computing 1 5
pplications that cross the boundaries of different computing machines,
operating systems, and programming languages are increasingly the norm.
As a result, the need for what might be called “bridging technologies” to
develop software that works across heterogeneous environments has become more
compelling. The Common Object Request Broker Architecture is one such technology
that is both robust and commercially available. CORBA essentially describes
how client applications can invoke operations on server objects using the services of
an intermediary known as an Object Request Broker, or ORB. CORBA has already
been successfully deployed in a variety of application domains ranging from financial
information systems to video-on-demand.
While early CORBA adopters were often large commercial enterprises that needed
to integrate proprietary back-end applications over diverse operating and hardware
systems, CORBA is increasingly finding its way onto the desktop and becoming
a serious contender as the technology of choice for the development of
Internet-based applications. The standardization of a Java binding for CORBA, supported
by products such as Visigenic’s VisiBroker for Java* and Iona Technologies’
OrbixWeb,* allows client applets to invoke server objects across the Internet.
Consider the example of a ticket agency that implements a CORBA interface
to its services. This agency could then use a Java applet from a Web page to invoke
one of its servers and book tickets on behalf of a client. Moreover, Netscape’s incorporation
of an ORB into its Communicator* client software means that many users
will already have an ORB on their desktop.
This article introduces CORBA by describing its key components. We then
review the boundaries it helps to bridge. We conclude by comparing CORBA with
a number of other bridging technologies available today.
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