Nashua, New Hampshire-based messaging outfit Cornerstone Software Inc is moving on from its Tandem Computers Inc base with a planned series of application programming interfaces that it will provide on top of its peer-to-peer Piccolo transport architecture for client-server application development and transaction processing, including X/Open Co Ltd’s XATMI, WinSock and Open Database Connectivity. Eight-year-old Cornerstone’s claim to fame is a transaction delivery system that Tandem offers its users as a Remote Server Call. Cornerstone says the Remote Server Call effectively furnished Tandem with its entry into the client-server world: the fault-tolerant builder used the Remote Server Call to achieve its record-setting TPC-C numbers. Although under Remote Server Call, clients can talk only to Tandem hosts, Piccolo, a communications re-write of it, supports application development and deployment across a variety of systems and protocols. The multithreaded Piccolo is actually less of an integrated transaction processing animal than Remote Server Call, but it is intended to provide the communication backbone for transaction processing solutions that can be built using a wide range of technologies for a variety of targets. Cornerstone will offer an Open Database Connectivity application programming interface – initially for Tandem systems, by the end of the year.
A WinSock release, which will also initially be for Tandem systems, is due next quarter with the first release of a phased XATMI Application Programming Interface set for the second quarter of 1995. By the time that these have arrived, Tandem is expected to have Remote Server Call up on Piccolo too – it has already signed as the exclusive supplier of Piccolo on its systems, and will market the technology to third parties. Piccolo does not, and is not intended to provide the stock-in-trade queuing-type services associated with transaction processing systems such as CICS, Tuxedo and Encina – in fact Tandem offers Tuxedo alongside Remote Server Call and plans CICS support – although Cornerstone president Robert Wade believes the environment provides as much as 80% of the functionality that transaction developers require. Piccolo operates at a much lower level than Tuxedo for example, having some 13 calls, against the 350-odd defined by X/Open Co Ltd’s transaction processing standards. His competitors for now are primarily the Peerlogic Inc and Momentums of the industry although more overlap with the mainstream transaction processing vendors is anticipated as the application programming interfaces are released.Wade believes Cornerstone – and Peerlogic and Momentum too – offer certain advantages over conventional transaction processing environments like Tuxedo, such as not blocking input-output channels to wait for message acknowledgements while in conversation mode. What Piccolo still lacks, however, is a selection of local and wide area network gateways, two-phase commit, which is scheduled for 1995, and auto-formatting. Wade sees high performance transaction sites, like the financial services industry, as the natural customer base for Piccolo. Piccolo is already supported under AIX, HP-UX, Windows NT, Santa Cruz Unix, Tandem Guardian, Solaris and Windows with Macintosh, OS/2, Tandem Integrity and releases for most other Unix-based Remote Server Call systems planned plus HP 3000 and MVS. Piccolo supports NetBIOS, TCP/IP and IPC protocols now, with asynchronous, full and half duplex development under way. Unix prices for Piccolo start from $120 – Windows at from $110. The 20-person outfit expects to do around $2.8m this year and aims to stay private without venture support.
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