J2EE v Microsoft

Right now there is a battle going on to convince you to use Microsoft products or Java tools to build your e-business architecture. The battle is getting fiercer, partly because the web services skirmish is now coming to the fore.

Right now there is a battle going on to convince you to use Microsoft products or Java tools to build your e-business architecture. The battle is getting fiercer, partly because the web services skirmish is now coming to the fore.

Suri Bartlett, managing director at KPMG, which analysed the IT architectures used by the various companies that will form Global Co, can see positives in either approach. He says the J2EE system is suited to true object-oriented design and development, is easy to implement, runs on many platforms, scales well and has many potential suppliers. The Microsoft system is used by many firms giving a good access to skills, is easy to develop and integrates well with the Microsoft product set, while Microsoft is releasing an OO-friendly product with its C# language, he says.

Microsoft e-commerce solutions manager Mike Peters says the Sun J2EE system is closed as it is controlled by a single vendor, and has little ability to interact outside itself.

“One of J2EE’s major disadvantages is that the choice of platform dictates the use of a single programming language that is not well suited for most businesses. One of J2EE’s major advantages is that most of the J2EE vendors do offer operating systems portability,” he says.

Peters says Microsoft’s .Net web services platform is a family of products rather than specifications used primarily to define points of interoperability, which means the cost of developing applications is lower since standard business languages can be used and device-independent presentation tier-logic can be written. The costs of running applications is lower, he says, since commodity hardware platforms (at one-fifth of the cost of their Unix platforms, he claims) can be used. The ability to scale up is greater, he claims, with the ability to support at least 10 times the number of clients any J2EE platform has shown itself able to support.

Auckland-based Gary Elmes, business development executive of IBM Global Services, counters that committing to a specific implementation such as .Net rather than a standard like Java or J2EE “tends to tie in customers to one particular vendor, with the consequent risk of rising costs and stifled innovation”.

He says J2EE works, is effective and customers have choices over who they buy from. “As a web services language, Java has basically won the battle; particularly server side. Developers who were writing industrial-strength business logic in RPG or Cobol are moving to Java as they shift their applications to the web. This wouldn’t be happening if Java was not up to the job,” he says.

Elmes says Java’s programming environment is more productive through its object-orientated paradigm and encouragement of code-reuse through bean components. In addition, Java permits a more tailor-made solution by allowing for a wider choice of equipment, systems and platforms, including Microsoft. Performance issues are “yesterday’s” news, he says, with Java server workloads scaling at more than 85% efficiency as more processors are added. Java systems also easily fit better to older systems, which he describes as “a wrapper around your legacy code to make it available to new web-based applications”.

Sun agent SolNet sent a paper from Joseph Butt of Forrester Research commenting on the February launch of the Sun Open Network Environment.

Butt says Sun’s entry into net-based services further boosts the development of Java, used by 2.5 million developers worldwide, it strengthens the common XML database used by so many companies, and offers plug-ins for other net services standards.

Microsoft’s upcoming C# language is little known by the development community. “The result? Visual Studio — Microsoft’s development platform for its .Net services vision — will struggle with cross-platform developers and slow the development of .Net services,” Butt says.

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