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DCE (Distributed Computing Environment)

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DCE is the product of the OSF (Open Software Foundation), which merged with X/Open Company Ltd. in February 1996 to form The Open Group. OSF was originally founded in 1988 to research and develop distributed computing environments. X/Open was founded in 1984 to provide compliance to open systems specifications. The newly formed Open Group's mission is to enable customer choice in the implementation of multivendor information systems. The Open Group's Web site is located at

DCE is a suite of "enabling" software services that allow organizations to distribute processing and data across the enterprise. It hides the differences in multivendor products, technologies, and standards. Thus, DCE provides an independence from operating systems and networks. No specific network protocol is specified, so the underlying network can use IP, IPX, or SNA.

Much of the technology in DCE was acquired through a process called Request for Technology. Major hardware and software vendors submitted their technologies and OSF picked the best. A list is provided here:

  • Hewlett-Packard and DEC's RPC (remote procedure call)

  • DECdns directory naming services

  • X.500 directory naming services from Siemens AG

  • Kerberos security services from MIT with Hewlett-Packard extensions

  • Andrew File System from Transarc

  • LM/X PC integrated technology from Microsoft

  • Concert Multi-Threads Architecture from DEC

  • DECdts time services from DEC

The DCE architecture is a layered model that integrates the technologies just described. At the bottom are the most basic services (such as operating systems), and at the top are applications. The services provided by DCE are designed to mask the complexity of multivendor network environments and let information easily flow to where it is needed. In this respect, DCE is middleware.

The DCE services are grouped into two categories: development tools and data-sharing services. The development tools help software developers create end-user services needed for distributed computing. They include RPCs (remote procedure calls), directory services, time services, security services, and threads services. Data-sharing services provide end users with capabilities built upon the development tools to easily access information. They include distributed file system and diskless workstation support.

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.