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Entera is a middleware product introduced in the mid-1990s by the Open Environment Corporation (OEC) and pioneered the three-tiered client/server development model. Entera presaged the idea of viewing business software as a collection of services, rather than a monolithic application.
Entera was designed to allow companies to quickly build and manage large, global information systems, while preserving existing investments in skill sets, hardware and software systems. The development of Entera was important because Entera overcame the barriers that were inherent in first generation client/server application development, including the lack of scalability, manageability, security, and vendor lock-in. Entera was built on industry standard distributed computing infrastructures, supported a wide variety of languages and delivered an flexible management framework.
After its origination with OEC, and OEC’s purchase by Borland Software, the rights to Entera were acquired by eCube Systems LLC in 2003. Today, Entera and NXTera, are still used by Fortune 1000 companies around the world and actively enhanced, maintained and marketed by eCube Systems.
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In 1992, Open Environment Corporation (“OEC”), located in Cambridge Massachusetts, released a revolutionary middleware product called “OEC Toolkit.” The product, which eventually would become known as “Entera,” was the first middleware product sold as a best-of-breed application server platform. In subsequent years, Entera underwent future enhancements, including a three-tier application monitor called AppMinder, and a transaction system called Entera FX. Over the next nine years, OEC sold tens of millions of dollars worth of Entera to at least 300 Fortune 1000 customers. In 1995 OEC went public, completing its initial public offering on NASDAQ under ticker OPEN.
While continuing to enhance Entera, two primary versions of the software were developed. The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) version became the most popular and flexible Entera implementation. The other primary version, Distributed Computing Environment (DCE), was based on DCS Cell Directory Service, the DCE endpoint mapper, and DCE threads. Despite various challenges, the DCE version of Entera became popular with IBM and its customer base because it simplified the complexity of DCE development.
During this time, OEC developers began work on a fourth version of Entera, aimed at unifying TCP and DCE versions. They used the DCE and endpoint mapper to provide stability and increased performance. This newer version had the added advantages of multithreading and broker persistence, making it better than the TCP version. Prior to its acquisition, OEC developed a number of products including, the OEC Toolkit, Encompass, Netminder, Entera Workbench, Oec3270, Appminder, Entera OLE, and Entera FX.
In 1996, a year after going public, OEC was acquired by Borland. As Borland continued to invest in Entera, the software peeked in popularity. At this time, over 300 Fortune 1000 companies were using Entera worldwide.
During the post-buyout transition phase, the original Entera development team underwent some changes. Entera 4.0 was released prematurely, causing problems with its use as a replacement for Entera 3.2. Borland quickly responded by releasing version 4.1, which proved to be a much more stable version. Finally in 2000, most stable version, 4.2.1 was released.
Over the next few years, Borland sold hundreds of copies of Entera to new and former Entera customers. During this time, Borland also developed one of the industries most experienced professional services organizations, attracting enterprise experts capable of working in diverse programming environments.
In November 1997, Borland announced its acquisition of Visigenic Software (VSGN), a CORBA vendor and the developer of VisiBroker. VisiBroker overlapped some of Entera’s capabilities while adding support for Java, object-orientation and a degree of complexity to distributed computing.
During the following year, Borland refocused its efforts on targeting enterprise applications development. They spent less time on developing Entera and turned their attention to Visibroker. With a newfound focus, Borland changed its name to Inprise, a fusion of “integrating and enterprise.” Their new aim was to integrate Borland’s tools including, Delphi, C++ Builder, and JBuilder with Visigenic’s COBRA-based Visibroker for C++ and Java.
With their efforts concentrated on Visigenic Software, Borland unsuccessfully attempted to switch Entera users to Visibroker, before ultimately discontinuing active development of Entera in 2001. Even while experiencing growth within its customer base, Borland quietly reallocated Entera development resources.
eCube acquires license
Borland licensed the rights to Entera to eCube Systems LLC in 2002 to provide a path forward for existing clients and to enable further development of the Entera platform. eCube Systems was started by former OEC and Borland engineers and architects who still believed in the product.
eCube Systems continues to support and enhance existing Entera installations today. The latest version of Entera is called NXTera. It incorporates new technology models and allows for interoperation with contemporary middleware technologies which include: a variety of messaging platforms and Web Services standards such as SOAP and REST.
In July 2009, Micro Focus acquired Borland for $75 million. In February 2012 Micro Focus and eCube Systems announced their cooperation in the delivery of middleware consulting. Today eCube and Micro Focus collaborate on a variety of middleware projects.
- eCube Systems. "Entera History". eCube Systems. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- "BORLAND TO ACQUIRE OPEN ENVIRONMENT CORPORATION; Together to Offer Multi-Tier, Scalable Client/Server and Intranet Solutions. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- eCube Systems (2012-07-15). "Legacy Modernization". eCube Systems. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
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