Even two years after its public debut, the Java juggernaut shows no sign of slowing. In fact, more than two years after its public debut, its popularity is still increasing. Businesses are in a headlong rush to move to Java to take advantage of the cost savings that applications running on the Java Virtual Machine have to offer. In fact, there are many who believe that soon not only will everything be programmed in Java but also that all the old non-Java programs will be scrapped and replaced with Java.
While it would be nice to believe that Java will soon rule the world and that knowing languages like C, C++ or Smalltalk will soon be like knowing Latin or ancient Greek, this isn't really what will happen. Java won't become king but will more likely be first among equals. And there will be many equals. And Java will need to be able to communicate with these equals. That communication mechanism is CORBA. Right now, CORBA ties all these languages together. And for the foreseeable future CORBA offers the best path for integrating the hot new Java programs being written with the legacy applications that sit on mainframes, minis and Unix boxes scattered all over God's green earth.
What Java Offers
Java offers portability - something that is in great demand in this age of increasingly networked systems. Java allows users real flexibility in their choice of hardware, software and so on. No longer are they limited by their proprietary solution. But Java still has limits of its own that need to be overcome. Because its native ORB RMI is meant for Java-to-Java communication, communication with languages other than Java, while possible, is difficult to do. That's where CORBA comes in. CORBA is a technology created to allow just this kind of inter-language communication. And now that CORBA has been mapped to Java both in IDL-to-Java mappings and Java-to-IDL mappings, this communication has been rendered much easier.
What CORBA Offers
CORBA offers interoperability - something that ties together the information and the technologies of the past and present with the rapid advances of the future. CORBA not only creates the interoperability that users demand but it gives them a rich set of services that are all part of a well-planned architecture. CORBA continues to evolve as user needs and demands change and grow. OMG's membership continues to update and expand the architecture to ensure its continued usability with the latest technologies, while maintaining its ability to keep ties with older technologies.
Where They Meet And Why It's Great
What must be remembered at the end of the day is not that one language is better than another or that any specific technology works best. What is important now is that they all work together. The computing world is immensely complicated and will only become more so as time goes on. What users want is simple - they want to get to their information as quickly and painlessly as possible - without having to agonize over how it gets done. With Java, users now get the portability they are seeking for their applications. With CORBA they get the interoperability they need to tie all their applications together.
About the Author
Dr. Richard Mark Soley is President and Technical Director of the Object Management Group, Inc. (OMG). He leads the OMG Technology Committees, which are responsible for producing standards documents, adopting OMG-standard technology and proposal of new technologies. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Java Developer's Journal and is the editor of JDJ's CORBACorner column.