OMG-IETF Cooperation?

Results of a trip report to the

34th Internet Engineering Task Force

Dallas, Texas, 4-8 December 1995

Craig Thompson, Object Services and Consulting, Inc.,

Dennis Finn, Hughes Research Labs,

Jon Siegel, OMG,


Executive Summary

There appear to be several primarily informal ways OMG and IETF can cooperate. Below, we list some considerations in forming a liaison with the IETF community as an input to the OMG Liaison Subcommittee and identify some technical areas of intersection as an input to the OMG Internet SIG and indirectly to other OMG Task Forces. Finally, we provide some background on the way IETF operates that may be of interest to the entire OMG Technical Committee.

Liaison with IETF

One of the purposes of attending the 34th IETF meeting was to determine how and where OMG and IETF could collaborate. A goal of OMG is enterprise interoperation for both real and virtual enterprises. IDL provides a common object specification language for interoperability and CORBA provides a common distributed backplane.. Similarly, the Internet provides pervasive access to information sources and increasingly for networking services. So there is good reason to suppose that the two communities may find points of intersection.

Motivations for exploring potential IETF-OMG collaboration included:

Ways of possible collaboration we considered were:

Some issues we considered were:

We learned (from talking to several key people) that:


Inputs to OMG Internet SIG

One of the functions of the OMG Internet SIG is to act as an OMG focal point to collect requirements and architectural extensions to existing and future OMG specifications that are motivated by the Internet community, global networking, and Internet applications.

Based on this meeting, we see several points of intersection between OMG and IETF, where OMG members should be aware of IETF ongoing activities. On the other hand, IETF has no IETF specification or proposal for "moving abstract objects around" and is "reluctant to get into this business." They also resist getting into the business of OOPLs and data structures. Here is a partial list of potential areas of intersection of interests:

Along these lines, we had an interesting discussion with Jim Gettys (on loan to W3C from DEC for one year). He indicated that he had not looked at IIOP personally, but had talked to Bill Janssen (Xerox) and had the impression that IIOP as it is will not scale. He said that not scaling is a non-starter as far as the Internet community is concerned. He indicated several flaws with IIOP. Several of these would require modifying the OMA, so we are definitely NOT advocating making these changes -- we're just pointing out where some IETF members have concern:

Due to the above deficiencies (especially, no asynchronous support and too inefficient and also OMG specifications that are hard to read), Gettys indicated that he was using Xerox's ILU to integrate object services into the WWW instead of CORBA implementations and indicated that OMG would have to address these deficiencies quickly to enable it to be used on the WWW.

One other viewpoint, held by several people we talked to at IETF, is that OMG must lose its perceived "attitude problem" of being "the one true path" and "self-contained" and more humbly ask for input from the networking community saying, "We are concerned that IIOP may not scale to global Internets (after all, even intra enterprise networks are global). What do we do to IIOP to fix this problem?".

Next Step

OMG and W3C management will jointly host a workshop on Objects on the Web. OMG rules require the workshop to be open probably requiring a position paper. The time frame: April 1996 plus or minus a few months, possibly co-located with Object World Boston in May 1996. Given the pace of both OMG and Internet/WWW, sooner is better. (Of course, the OMG Internet SIG plays a similar role and meets bimonthly.) [The workshop is now schedule - see Joint W3C/OMG Workshop on Distributed Objects and Mobile Code, June 24-25, 1996.]

Written: December 1995 and sent to OMG TC and OMG Internet SIG.