Intel aims for software prize

An unlikely diplomat has stepped in to mediate the jihad that rages in the enterprise software arena. Intel is getting ready to throw its weight behind an effort to forge some sort of truce in the war over distributed object architectures that is currently paralysing the software industry.

Microsoft's firm commitment to the Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM), coupled with an equally passionate devotion to Java and the CORBA specification by IBM, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and Netscape Communications, has put IT managers in a quandary over these incompatible architectures. Although there have been some interoperability inroads made between these object models -- in the form of alliances between Microsoft and Iona Technologies -- that will create a bridge between DCOM and CORBA, software industry intransigence continues to put internal politics ahead of customer interests.

Enter Intel which, as a hardware platform provider, is about to try to enforce the peace by rallying the middleware providers around a common set of system services that will span both architectures. This should make it easier for IT managers to deploy Windows NT and Unix systems alongside each other, and once again relegate the debate about the merits of rival software architectures to the lab.

In general, Intel cannot afford to keep following Microsoft's lead. Pentium II sales have been held back by a software lack that can be directly attributed to the delayed delivery of Windows 98. In fact, Intel is playing a more active role in software development by helping to fund the development of multimedia applications.

The other side

On the server side, hardware sales will also be adversely affected if IT shops take a wait-and-see attitude toward DCOM and CORBA. That's why Intel, backed-up by allies such as Dell and Compaq, is attempting to resolve the impending crisis.

So the question is, does Intel have the clout to pull this off, or is this going to be another wayward peacekeeping mission that leads to more problems than it solves?