Microsoft adds transactions to Active Server

Microsoft has announced a shipment schedule and pricing plan for Transaction Server, the transaction manager and object request broker that represents a key piece of the company's Active Server strategy.

Microsoft has announced a shipment schedule and pricing plan for Transaction Server, the transaction manager and object request broker that represents a key piece of the company's Active Server strategy.

Transaction Server 1.0 is available now in preview form and will ship commercially in January. It will be priced at US$2,000 for the server software, with no related client fees.

Formerly code-named Viper, Transaction Server, which runs on Windows NT Server 4.0, is an environment that will manage transactions between ActiveX components across different databases. The server program will work with any client with an HTML Web browser installed, officials said.

"You develop applications as stand-alone ActiveX server components, and Viper handles concurrency, transactions, sharing, [and] database pooling so you don't have to program that," says Mitch Kramer, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, in Boston.

Microsoft has tightly linked Transaction Server to its SQL Server 6.5 database through common support of its OLE transaction protocol and the use of its Distributed Transaction Coordinator, which manages a single transaction across several databases. Although Transaction Server is written for Windows NT, it will also work with information stored on Unix systems thanks to Microsoft's implementation of XA, a standard API for linking database servers and online transaction processing monitors.

Transaction Server has garnered support from key database vendors, including Informix, Sybase, and IBM, which have vowed to offer interoperability between their Unix databases and Microsoft's software through the supported interfaces.

However, the product will link to Oracle databases through Visigenic Software's ODBC Unix drivers rather than the XA interface, which will hamper performance because Oracle declined to cooperate on making Oracle databases and Transaction Server work together, Microsoft officials say.

Microsoft will follow up this initial release of Transaction Server with additional functionality, including Cedar, which is a series of gateways to access IBM mainframe transactions, and integration with Falcon, Microsoft's message queuing middleware. Both enhancements are due during the middle of next year.

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