Most of the changes to the Open Software Foundation’s Distributed Computing Environment release 1.1 are being supplied by primary contractor Hewlett-Packard Co, including work on the security core. It will, as expected, feature additional configuration and administration tools derived from Hewlett-Packard’s submission when it ships later this year, though whether Hewlett-Packard’s secure NFS-DFS Network File System-Distributed File System gateway is also included remains to be decided. Software Foundation director of interoperable technologies David Lounsbury says the Foundation is still negotiating with its technology suppliers about the final make-up of DCE 1.1 and believes it would not be a problem if technology such as Hewlett-Packard’s gateway were to remain a value-added product. The goal of getting administrative and other enhancements like automatic start-up of Distributed Computing Environment servers into DCE 1.1 is however partly to ensure that vendors can’t use, at a basic level, these kind of additions as product differentiators. Services spawned by the now severely curtailed Distributed Management Environment 1.0 programme for which DCE is a pre-requisite – such as software distribution and licensing – will be offered as vertical applications for DCE. Other DME 1.0 components, including programming services – such as event services that can define, monitor and report on system conditions – will be included in the core DCE bundle. Lounsbury says that the version of event services available in DCE will be a greatly enhanced version of those made available as DME 1.0 services.
Regards itself as the workshop
DCE 1.1 is due around September, around the same time as the Open Software Foundation’s network management option, which will announced late next quarter. Based on the X/Open XMP application programming interface, it will be offered as a separate component and is viewed as a building block for vendors’ own network management systems rather than an end-user tool, which DCE is certainly intended to be. The Software Foundation expects to begin work on defining DCE 2.0 over the next couple of months, and this will be the vehicle for any future distributed services development. In between, Lounsbury expects most DCE work to be focused on getting different DCE vendor implementations working together so that OEM customers will have a consistent set of application programming interfaces and methodologies for implementing anticipated Object Management Group Corba 2.0-compliant object request brokers on top. It might seem ironic that the Open Software Foundation regards itself as the workshop for the job of harmonising DCE implementations in readiness for a distributed object framework that it was to have supplied under the original Distributed Management Environment programme. But Lounsbury clearly believes that the task of delivering object-readiness will itself spawn the need for a host of Distributed Computing Environment improvements that will keep it busy. And DCE and Corba map well, he says optimistically. He’s less optimistic about the chances of being able to offer the DME services on Corba object request brokers, but has a couple of engineers still looking at it. The problem is that Corba 1.1 applications are not portable and implementations are not compatible. Indeed, the problem of developing and implementing management services for distributed environments is a factor of the problems associated with object-oriented programming, he believes. Whether the Object Group can reconcile differences between first generation object technologies in Corba 2.0 is a large, hard task, says Lounsbury, who’s been peeking at technologies around the corner.
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