Entera 4.0

Entera 4.0

In 1996, Open Environment Corporation was acquired by Borland at the time their middleware product “Entera” was at its peaking of popularity. Entera had an installed base over 300 of the Fortune 1000 companies. It came in two versions: TCP and DCE.

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) version was by far the most popular. Although it was extremely stable, there were a few inherent problems with memory leaks, broker binding non-persistence and non-multi-threaded performance issues.

The Distributed Computing Environment (DCE) version was based on the DCS Cell Directory Service (DCE/CDS), the endpoint mapper and DCE threads. It constantly had problems due to the immaturity of DCE. However, at the time, DCE was gaining popularity and IBM. IBM had recently purchased Gradient, the primary DCE company.

Open Environment Corporation (OEC) had begun development of Version 4 as a way to unify the two versions of Entera. OEC used DCE and the endpoint mapper to provide some stability and performance increase. This offered two distinct advantages over Entera TCP: Multithreading and Broker persistence . The new product was almost ready at the time of the acquisition of OEC by Borland. It was the first major middleware product sold by Borland.

Unfortunately, the Entera development team broke up somewhat after the Borland buyout. Only a fraction of the team survived the acquisition. As a result, Entera 4.0 was released with very little testing. Major problems developed with its use as a replacement for Entera 3.2. Problems mounted. Patches and newer versions were quickly rolled out. Entera Version 4.1 became a much more stable product. Finally in 2000, the most stable version, 4.2.1 was released. Many of the original Entera development team never got to see the product become stable. As many were laid off in 1999. The entire Entera development team was later outsourced by Borland to Singapore.

The Open Environment Corporation's Appminder product was re-designed by Borland to enable it to support objects and object oriented middleware products like Visibroker. Over the next 4 years, Borland would go on to sell hundreds of copies of AppCenter and Entera to new and former Entera customers. In the process, Borland developed one of the most experienced Professional Services Organizations in the industry. In so doing, attracted Enterprise experts who were capable of programming in diverse environments like HP, IBM, Sun, DEC, Windows and Linux. In 1999, IBM announced the dropping of support for DCE in spite of the fact that many of its products were dependent upon its infrastructure: Websphere and CICS for example.

Borland in its push of Delphi was unsuccesful in attracting Visual Basic developers. Unable to convince the Entera users to migrate to Visibroker, the company decided to drop support of Entera at the end of 2001.

The Entera community, which had grown to at least 300 customers, was abandoned by Borland without even a migration plan. The Principal consultant and support staff were laid off in the summer of 2001, leaving no one at Borland who knew Entera.

Shortly after, Borland licensed Entera source rights to eCube Systems, made up of former OEC employees and former Entera architects who still believed in the product. eCube is not only committed to supporting and enhancing existing Entera installations, but also in updating Entera to NXTera, incorporating the new middleware technologies of the present time like J2EE, SOAP, XML, and Web Services.


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