Annrai O’Toole the chief technical officer of Dublin, Ireland-based object request broker company, Iona Technologies Plc has been spelling out his vision of the computer industry, in which the outspoken Irishman predicts a glowing future for Object Request Brokers and Java, advocates the ongoing use of legacy systems and vehemently slates pet hate the DCOM distributed common object model. Talking at the recent Object Expo Europe conference in London, England, O’Toole branded talk of throwing out legacy systems as literally impossible, arguing that all vision should be set by the available technology. He reckons there is a lot of new technology around, but it is not necessarily capable of forming part of a coherent system yet. There’s a myriad of technology about…tons of components but very little glue O’Toole observes. Yet this is apparently exactly what Iona thrives on. Incompatibility is the Iona business says O’Toole, with no small amount of pleasure. And what of Java? There’s really no alternative, he says – ActiveX is a nice try by Microsoft but it’s just not going to fly. They’ve come out with this Java Direct (CI No 3,190), but it’s going direct to nowhere! Java’s got so much momentum, thin clients are where it’s at. I get 60-year old Cobol programmers coming up to me and saying that Java’s the best thing that’s ever happened! O’Toole adds.
The right to choose
However, O’Toole doesn’t believe Java will kill off everything else: The real world isn’t homogenous – when C++ came out everyone said C was dead, sorry, wrong. People still have the right to choose. The critical Mr O’Toole reserves his most scathing comments for his pet hate, DCOM: It’s evil, I’ve said it’s brain dead but that’s an understatement! RMI [remote method invocation] was evil too but thankfully Sun made that go away. So what does the future hold? O’Toole confidently predicts: Object Request Brokers will be everywhere; from your dishwasher to your mobile phone, brazenly emphasising: Corba [Common Object Request Broker]’s the way to go, everything else is evil! So what does O’Toole have to say on Microsoft Corp’s move into the enterprise market? I think they’re in a dangerous position – they’re talking the talk but not walking the walk. They’re not showing the customers how they’re going to solve the problems. He adds: Microsoft venturing into the enterprise is like Napoleon going for Moscow – they want everything but it could be dangerous if it fails. Meanwhile O’Toole says Iona should be rolling out its Object Transaction Monitor, an extension of its existing Orbix Orb product, by the third quarter. The new transaction monitor bundle will include transaction support for Corba along with certain components of OrbixWeb and some additional security features including the OTS Object Transaction Service and SSL SecureSockets Layer. It will initially be available on the Solaris and HP-UX Unix implementations and on Windows NT. Next year should see the release of Orbix MX, which is aimed at telecommunications companies, and designed to enable high level control of multiple data streaming for specialist convergent technologies. O’Toole says the technology may also be more generally applicable in the video and audio markets, addressing the growing demand for active content over the Web. So what’s Iona’s overall strategy? We’re ruled by our customer base – we do really high end stuff and low end Java stuff for people who are worried about cost. O’Toole concludes: We’re not into vaporware, we’re just interested in showing people stuff that works. Following the transition of Hong Kong to control by the seemingly more business-friendly People’s Republic of China, Iona has announced the opening of a new office there. Headed up by Dr Andy Chun, the office will be responsible for technical and sales support as well as growing the business and evaluating opportunities in the emerging object orientated market in the region.