Designed by the Object Management Group (OMG), an international consortium of about 800 companies, CORBA's aim is to be the middleware of choice for heterogeneous systems. OMG's CORBA, which stands for Common Object Request Broker Architecture, is only a collection of standards; the implementation of object request brokers (ORBs) is done by various third parties. Because parts of the standard are optional and the vendors of ORBs are allowed to include additional features that are not in the specifications, the world has ended up with some incompatible request brokers. As a result, an application developed to make use of one vendor's features could not easily be ported to another ORB. When you buy a CORBA-based program or component, you just can't be sure if it will integrate with your CORBA applications, which probably were developed for a different request broker.

Aside from this potential problem, CORBA also has quite a steep learning curve. The standard reads like a complete wish list of everything that's possible with remoted components—sometimes it simply is too much for the "standard business." You'll probably end up reading documents for days or weeks before your first request is ever sent to a server object.

Nevertheless, when you have managed to implement your first CORBA application, you'll be able to integrate a lot of programming languages and platforms. There are even layers for COM or EJB integration, and apart from SOAP CORBA is the only true multiplatform, multiprogramming language environment for distributed applications.

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