OMG Eyes Better Legacy-to-Web Services Links

To help make it easier for mainframe and other object-oriented legacy applications to work better with web services, the Object Management Group (OMG) is moving on several fronts. During last month's OMG's Integrate 2002, members took the offense to update CORBA and other object-based programming models more able to work with code written with XML, Java, C#, SOAP and WSDL. See OMG's 2003 quick 4-point laundry list.

Tags: Web Services, OMG, UML, MDA, Architecture, Standardize, Business,


To help make it easier for mainframe and other object-oriented legacy applications to work better with web services, the Object Management Group (OMG) is moving on several fronts.

During last month's OMG's Integrate 2002, the bastion of mainframe and OOP computing, members took the offense to update CORBA and other object-based programming models more able to work with code written with XML, Java, C#, SOAP and WSDL.

"The key is to standardize the infrastructure for distributed computing to align with web services specifications," says an OMG policy statement for its Model-Driven Architecture (MDA), a concept that OMG execs hope will bring a more "open, vendor-neutral approach" to development of complex, multi-tier enterprise systems..

Integration Developer News discussed the OMG's moves with Jon Siegel, OMG's vice president of technology transfer "MDA answers two of today's biggest enterprise application development needs," Siegel told IDN, "and both are 'open systems' or standards-related."

In specific, Siegel said MDA's advantages include:
  • Achieving easier and more standards-based legacy-to-web services integration for business-oriented rules, and
  • The development by OMG and member companies of a class of technical specifications that make such rules independent of platform, IDE or language.

    In MDA development, architects and developers unbundled business and workflow rules from underlying application code and presentation work. "MDA is a better way to let businesses focus on their business. First focus on the business rules, , and then worry about the technology implementation later," Siegel said. "Except for the maintenance of CORBA, all the new OMG spec work is oriented around MDA. In fact," Siegel emphasized, "CORBA not going away. Its use is growing as we support real-time and fault-tolerant systems.

    "When we first proposed MDA, a lot of vendors came out of the woodwork and said to us, 'What a great idea! We've been working on this kind of thing for a year or two with our customers. What took you so long?'" As MDA becomes more refined, we're finding that vendors are eager to migrate their tools to conform to the specification."

    Today, MDA seeks to bring together traditional CORBA technologies with newer web services features, Siegel said, and so the spec includes XML UML, along with definitions for building interfaces (such as code generators and middleware). "Now, we're looking to define a more formal statement of the architecture, as many of our members are looking to us to put together the rules and definitions for using MDA," he added.

    Inside OMG Web Services Work
    Witness to the growing rally cries at OMG around MDA, the model perspective will find its way into some of the core OMG web services support initiatives that have been ongoing since 2000, Siegel added. Specifically, technical committees looking at OMG will write rules governing the mapping CORBA to web services specs like SOAP and WSDL; and how to bring UML 2.0 into interoperability and compliance with app servers architectures (such as J2EE and Microsoft's Biztalk/.NET servers), as well as XML-enabled middleware.

    Several key examples from last week's OMG Integrate 2002 meeting:
    1. OMG technical committee members were expected to review technical proposals stemming from this summer's Web Services for Enterprise Collaboration Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP seeks to define standard ways to map OMG's component collaboration architecture and web services features, including SOAP, WSDL and XML.

    In specific, the RFP aims to describe how WSDL services can be represented in OMG's Unified Modeling Language (UML) to "enable high-level and business-focused collaborations to be automatically and deterministically mapped to web services infrastructures." (Rational Software also hosts a UML Resource Center.)

    The RFP solicited proposals to define several technical considerations, including:
  • Mapping from EDOC-Component Collaboration Architecture to XML-schema and unbound WSDL 1.1 with a SOAP binding;

  • Mapping from XML-Schema and WSDL 1.1 with an optional SOAP binding to the EDOC-Component Collaboration Architecture;
  • and
  • Defining any required extensions to the EDOC-Component Collaboration Architecture to represent WSDL semantics.

  • 2. Integrate 2002 formed the stage for OMG's final voting process for adopting the Universal Modeling Language (UML) 2.0 standard, which aims to formalize technical ways to embrace modeling in the ways UML relates to J2EE and .NET-based web services.

    Notably, this upgrade to UML comes five years after the adoption of UML 1.0. Its goal, even before the advent of web services, was to make it easier for IDE providers to support standard and simpler component/application modeling. The UML 2.0 specs, which in large part may prove invisible to many developers, will embrace many aspects of both object-based and model-based architectures. These upgrades, still to be fully defined, are supported in principle by most major IDE development tools suppliers (from both the Open Source and commercial worlds), including Eclipse, Sun (NetBeans and Forte/SunOne), IBM, Microsoft, Rational Software and Borland, among others.

    3. To further extend this work to other platforms, OMG's Realtime, Embedded, and Specialized Systems (RTESS) Platform Task Force initiated two new "web-services-on-demand" related efforts. They are: (1) to define a lightweight version of the CORBA Component Model (CCM that would allow small-footprint (embedded and/or card-based) system to use CCM for scalable transactions; (2) to define a reliable, ordered multicast protocol to dispatch publish/subscribe messages to a list of event-consuming client programs.

    4. In the area of domain-specific work, OMG's Manufacturing Technology and Industrial Systems (ManTIS) Domain Task Force (DTF) initiated an effort to standardize Product Lifecycle Management, and finished evaluation of a specification for Historical Data Access from Industrial Systems (HDAIS). In addition, for the public sector, OMG established a new Government Special Interest Group (GSIG) to standardize frameworks, software specifications and design models to meet the business needs of e-Government online services.

    More Resources on OMG and "Open" Web Services


    * To get the latest on OMG's pledged support for work by the Gnome Foundation, the following CORBA 3.0 specs and documents were posted recently to the Gnome mailing list.

    * For an interesting and informative look at what UML 1.0 improvements are needed, check out this interesting article from Electronic Engineering Timeshttp://www.eetimes.com/in_focus/embedded_systems/OEG20021115S0035.

    * Cris Kobryn, chief technologist at Telelogic AB and cochair of both the UML Revision Task Force and the Analysis and Design Task Force at OMG, offers readers this insight into what UML 2.0 might do for them. It appears in his guest column for SD Times at http://www.sdtimes.com/opinions/guestview_048.htm.



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