Microsoft Preps Windows Application Integration Product

Microsoft previewed an "enterprise operability" technology that will let Windows applications integrate with applications running on mainframes, minicomputers, and other platforms. The preview took place today in Dallas at TechEd, Microsoft's annual developers conference

Keynote speaker Paul Maritz, group VP of Microsoft's developer group, said the product, code-named "Babylon," will enter beta testing later this year. Babylon is aimed at eliminating intercommunications problems due to applications on different platforms having different data, messaging, and protocol formats. It will provide the ability to translate among various competing formats. "It will be able to translate any protocol into any [other] protocol," Maritz says.

Gathering Babylon and various other initiatives under the banner of what he termed the "third phase" of the development of the company's Distributed interNetworking Architecture, or DNA, Maritz also said the emerging Extensible Markup Language standard will be a native format in virtually all Microsoft products.

Microsoft first introduced DNA about two years ago at its Professional Developers Conference in San Diego. At that time, DNA was almost entirely all promises, which prompted many industry analysts to compare it to IBM's failed Systems Application Architecture, which was introduced in the late 1980s and foundered soon thereafter.

Microsoft seems to be having more success, however, as several pieces of the puzzle have arrived or will do so--including support for programming Component Object Model objects in its programming tools and the pending delivery of COM+ services in Windows 2000--late this year.

Microsoft also disclosed the availability of the first draft specification for its BizTalk Framework for E-commerce using XML, and debuted a new steering committee aimed at urging adoption of the framework.

Maritz said little about Windows 2000, focusing instead on shipping products. For instance, he showed a single two-processor server running SQL Server 7.0 providing sub-second response times with 5,000 browsers hitting the database simultaneously. The queries where funneled to the database server by four four-processor servers that were load balanced using the Windows Load Balancing Services that Microsoft purchased last summer.

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