December 11, 1996 11:15 AM ET
Microsoft marshals support for Transaction Server
By Norvin Leach and Juan Carlos Perez

  Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday released Version 1.0 of the Microsoft Transaction Server and announced that 80 ISVs, including IBM, Sybase Inc., Tandem Computers Inc. and Informix Software Inc., would support the product.

MTS, code-named Viper, is Microsoft's solution for coordinating communication among objects in a distributed system. It is designed to combine traditional transaction processing functions with the functions of an object request broker, letting IS managers build and deploy reliable applications based on distributed objects.

MTS will support several standard transaction processing protocols, including XA, SNA LU 6.2 and the Transaction Internet Protocol, which Microsoft and Tandem proposed to the Internet Engineering Task Force this fall.

Although some ISVs previously announced support for MTS at this fall's Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, the breadth of support this week answers one of the concerns about the product--its ability to connect to legacy systems.

"Informix is supporting this because it benefits client-centric application developers and makes it much easier for them to create distributed transaction-oriented applications using Microsoft standards like DCOM [Distributed Common Object Model] and ActiveX,'' said Brett Bachman, general manager of enterprise products at Informix.

Informix plans to ship in the first quarter of 1997 a client-connectivity component for its line of database servers, including the new Informix Universal Server.

The component would let any MTS client application work with any Informix database server on Windows NT or Unix.

Sybase, on the other hand, is embracing MTS across its entire product line: tools, middleware and databases, said Bob Zurek, vice president of research and technology at Powersoft, Sybase's tool division.

Tandem, which is porting its Serverware middleware products to NT, is providing bridging technology to integrate MTS with its own database and transaction processing technology.

Tandem is providing technology, called OLE TP, that hooks MTS to its Pathway transaction processing servers as well as BEA Systems Inc.'s Tuxedo transaction processing system.

Currently, OLE TP simply lets developers access remote servers. Future versions of the technology will be fully transactional, according to Rob Holbrook, vice president of product management and solutions development for Tandem.

The one conspicuous absence from the list of database vendors is Oracle Corp.

Officials of the Redwood Shores, Calif., company said they would push their own product, Oracle Web Server 3.0, which is being renamed Web Application Server. The name change is aimed at highlighting the product's position as the middle-tier transaction management component of Oracle's Network Computing Architecture, Oracle officials said.

Oracle Web Server 3.0, set to ship in the first quarter of 1997, is based on Common Object Request Broker Architecture, which rivals Microsoft's COM and ActiveX technologies.

Mitch Kramer, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, in Boston, said MTS could help developers by automatically handling concurrent usage of applications. But he cautioned that MTS is in a very early release.

"It's not completely vapor, but it hasn't been stress tested in production yet,'' Kramer said.

A 120-day evaluation copy of MTS 1.0 is available free from Microsoft's World Wide Web site at

The product will be available in stores in mid-January and will cost about $2,000. Support for Unix databases should be available in the first quarter of next year.

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