OMG Internet SIG

Meeting #2 Minutes

Makuhari, Japan

November 13, 1995


The meeting followed this agenda:

Minutes were recorded and edited by Tom Mowbray.



At 13:00, Tom Mowbray started the meeting by reviewing the day's agenda and explained that this is the first meeting after official formation of the group. Tom apologized that the meeting was organized on such short notice, but that there were several quality speakers on the agenda, and there were important decisions to be made regarding the direction of the group. There will be a number of invited speakers, an invitation for others to give short speeches, followed by some brainstorming activities to determining the products and direction of the SIG. Tom explained the neither of the designated chairs could attend this particular meeting, due to cost considerations. The designated co-chairs for the group are Shel Sutton ( and Craig Thompson ( Tom asked the group to please direct follow-up questions and discussion to these designated chairs and/or the Internet SIG mailing list ( Note: OMG members must contact in order to be added to the list.

Tom introduced the first invited speaker, Lydia Bennett, who presented a review of the OMG's activities relevant to the Internet. Lydia explained the background of the Internet SIG, the OMG WWW Home Page, and her vision for the evolution of Internet-related activities. There was discussion.

In response to a call for further questions, Andreas Vogel stood up and made a comment that challenged the "marketing viewpoint" of OMG's Internet activities, for example, "Where is Netscape?" Lydia replied that previously, there had not been a role for companies like Netscape at the OMG, but that this situation is changing rapidly, including the recent formation of the Internet SIG and the reorganization of OMG to focus on vertical market Domain Interfaces. There was discussion.

Andrew Watson delivered an invited presentation, entitled "CORBA and the Web". Andrew explained that the objective of integrating CORBA and the Web was to "create a uniform information space by enabling interworking between the Web world and the CORBA world." This uniform space includes both intra-enterprise services and inter-enterprise services, as well as personal information services. The inter-enterprise services provide: "integrated access of corporate information systems; corporate services, organizational information -- who's doing what etc. ..." The inter-enterprise services provide: "integrated access of public information, support services, electronic commerce, etc. ..." Finally, "integrated access of personal information services: email folders, documents, file system, etc. ..." All of these services interoperate across a broadband wide area network. ANSAweb is a project being developed at the ANSA Distributed Systems Laboratory in Cambridge, UK. There are 2 project phases. Phase 1's aim is to provide wrappers for Common Gateway Interface (CGI) servers using OMG IDL. This technology demonstrator has been available for public release since June 9, 1995. The code includes an IDL to CGI stub compiler. The second phase's aim is to "introduce CORBA IIOP as an alternative protocol to HTTP", including wrapping Web services using OMG IDL and integration of third party services, such as locators, as CORBA services. The phase 2 results are to be announced that the upcoming 4th Web conference in December 1995 (Boston-USA-area). The legacy Web technology on the Internet supports extensions to functionality of the WWW through CGI programs. This technology was created very rapidly and has a "weak underlying network technology." Andrew explained the evolution of HTML from SGML, including the need for forms interfaces and general user interface functionality. Currently the CGI is used for application interfaces, but CGI is "rather difficult to use". For example, one must press every button on a form until it gets submitted. CGI does no compile time checking. Error messages occur easily, because there is no early (for example, client side) checking of the correctness of the use of the CGI interfaces. Andrew stated that CGI is error prone and requires user-written software to provide for parameter marshaling. ANSA has developed a demonstrator tool for WWW integration using CORBA, called the ANSAweb IDL to CGI stub compiler. In this environment, there is a IDL compiler that generates stubs/skeletons that provide CGI interfaces to application software. The IDL compiler also produces a template HTML form that can be edited. Currently, the standard set of CORBA data types are handled. The technology defines a CORBA mapping to appropriate equivalents in HTML. For example, enums map to radio buttons and structs map to a set of fields, and so forth. A key point of this research is that tool technology is the right way to address software extensions to the WWW. The ANSA technology is a demonstrator. Andrew stated that a productized technology might include extensions or annotations to IDL as appropriate to support comprehensive user interfaces. The benefits of this technology include that there is less code to write, high development productivity, fewer errors, and insulation from changes. The current demonstrator uses HTTP. The future plans include additional support for CORBA 2 IIOP. The use of IIOP will save significant run-time resources, such as many fewer socket "openings and closings". Benefits include extensibility, scalability, management capability, performances, and backwards compatibility. Phase 2 capabilities include compatibility with legacy HTTP servers, as well as, the more efficient IIOP, using gateways.

Tom Mowbray asked for volunteer speakers to talk about additional CORBA/Internet R&D activities.

Andreas Vogel talked about the DSTC research on trading, interoperability, and quality of service. The DSTC architecture for CORBA/Internet integration includes use of the DII which is directly integrated into the Web browser. The approach also includes JAVA applets. By migrating JAVA applets, DSTC's approach avoids overhead, while still supporting many types of safe interfaces.

Prasad Mokkapati suggested that OMG needs an IDL binding for JAVA to enable these kinds of solutions. There was discussion.

Jack Hassall introduced CORBAnet, a proposed joint initiative of the Internet SIG, Finance SIG, and the Telecommunications SIG. The initiative is based upon hardware and software that has already been offered and provided by multiple OMG members, including ORB platform suppliers and major financial institutions. This activity parallels the Object World Distributed Application Showcase, except that it is a persistent, operational testbed system on the Internet. Jack asked for further OMG members to contact him and Lydia Bennett regarding their interest in participation.

Tom Mowbray called for a recess in order to relocate the meeting to another room to support the brainstorming session.

At 15:15, Tom Mowbray called the meeting to order. The purpose of the brainstorming session is to give guidance to the SIG for future activities; this being the first meeting after official group formation. The mission and charter of the SIG were distributed to the participants. The key question for the brainstorming session is:

Question: "What artifacts should the Internet SIG produce?"

One key ground rule for this discussion is that the group should ignore the differences between a SIG and a Task Force, i.e., for planning purposes, assume that the group has all the appropriate OMG authority to do whatever is necessary to develop the Internet/CORBA area.... In that case, what artifacts would we produce as products of the effort?

Tom explained that there were several key products of the traditional OMG standards process. These include the Request for Information (RFI), the architecture document (which identifies and organizes the facilities for adoption), the roadmap (which defines the priorities and the adoption schedule), and the Request(s) for Proposals (RFP) which solicit technology submission from corporate members. From now on in this exercise, we will identify additions to this list. For example, CORBAnet is a candidate artifact for this list, as Jack identified in his earlier presentation.

Tom Mowbray facilitated a brainstorming technique (called "Spit Wads") involving a silent writing of ideas followed by listing them on flip charts. The group then identifies the overlaps and verifies that that they understand all of the items. Finally, a straw poll is taken to determine the priorities of the group. In this case, each person has 2 votes. This is an informal voting process, just to gain a sense of the group.

The results of the exercise are listed as follows, by order of decreasing priority (approximate text, edited for sanity):

There was discussion. Fred Cummins suggested that the group apply the same brainstorming process to address the top priority area, i.e. the identification of key requirements. Tom Mowbray proposed a brainstorming question, which was amended by the group, as follows:

QUESTION: "What are the key requirements for building applications combining CORBA and the Internet?" The results of the brainstorming session are listed below (approximate text edited for sanity -- this list is not prioritized or filtered for duplicates):

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