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Connectors link .Net to Oracle and Sybase

Developers can use high-level features of .Net and still connect to other vendors' databases, but will they get locked into Microsoft's way of thinking?

Data connectivity company DataDirect has launched components that link .Net applications to databases from Oracle and Sybase. Although these databases can already talk to .Net applications through standard XML interfaces, these components use 100 percent managed code and will let developers use higher-level .Net functionality, said DataDirect. "We are the only people in the .Net world who can support Oracle and Sybase," said Brian Reed, vice president of business development at DataDirect Technologies. The next database to tackle will obviously be IBM's DB2, he said. "Our beta sites expressed most interest in Sybase and Oracle." When applications are built on the .Net framework, they call services from standard data connectivity components called 'data providers' that implement Microsoft's ADO.NET interfaces. However, data providers are either managed or unmanaged, depending on whether the code is managed by the .Net framework and runs within .Net's common language runtime (CLR). Managed components will work faster, and be more secure said Reed -- pointing out that DataDirect's components use managed code: "There is concern around Microsoft security, so we took the most secure approach." Database vendors are not creating these connectors themselves, he said, because. "It's not on their radar screen," said Reed. ".Net is so new and database vendors have other issues they are dealing with." "A lot of database vendors will assume that XML is how it will go in .Net," Reed added. "But If you just do XML, you don't get all the functionality of using .Net itself." Tools like this will allow people with widely available Visual Studio skills to do jobs that otherwise would require rarer XML skills. Functions like distributed transactions and meta data management don't exist in a solely XML world, according to Reed. He believes the market for .Net connectivity will ultimately provide a significant portion of revenue at DataDirect, currently a $43m turnover company. On the wider issue of whether such approaches allow Microsoft to lock vendors in, he is unconcerned. "Some people say Microsoft is open because XML is open, others say it is proprietary because.Net doesn't interoperate. I think that .Net is much more interoperable than anything Microsoft has done before. It is a clear shift in strategy." DataDirect is planning to expand its XML support, having taken on Jonathan Robie, formerly of Software AG, one of the developers of the Xquery language, by which applications can query XML applications. "Version 1 of Xquery is complete, and we are building products for that to make it a standard for the enterprise," said Reed. "It's been two or three years in making, so it was exciting when Jonathan expressed an interest in joining us." The company is now completely separate from its former parent Merant, having completed a full financial year, said Reed: "We've had a good strong year. We've set up well."


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