The Web services grid

By my reckoning, J2EE was conceived at Microsoft in 1996, when legendary database guru Jim Gray was hired to lead the Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS) project. In MTS, which begat both COM+ and J2EE, the COM object was the unit of distributed computation. (For J2EE, substitute EJB for COM.) MTS provided a services fabric into which those objects were woven, and from which they acquired transactioning, load balancing, and object pooling. MTS was repackaged as COM+ for Windows NT 4.0. Now it's been carried forward to .Net Server as the guts of System.EnterpriseServices, the .Net Framework classes that nicely encapsulate the COM+ engine. The idea behind all this was that an ordinary VB (Visual Basic) programmer could use MTS/COM+ to build scalable, transactional apps. All you had to do, Microsoft promised, was "write to COM." No doubt about it, this was a great idea. One astute observer, Roger Sessions, has said that "COMWare" (COM+ and J2EE) represents "the democratization of the middle tier." The timing was perfect. Just as NT 4 got rolling, the Web began pushing "ordinary" VB apps harder than anyone could have imagined. [Full story at]

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