Cooperative Stance Sun is taking pains to reduce the perception that its offerings are merely stalking horses for sales of more Sun hardware and professional services. For example, it has cooperated with BEA Systems Inc., Intalio Inc. and SAP AG in announcing the publication of the XML-based Web Service Choreography Interface specification for application-to-application collaboration.Like Microsoft, IBM is courting developers with an increasingly integrated Web services product line of servers and tools, based on what IBM positions as nonproprietary technologies with emphasis on J2EE. Promised this quarter, IBMs WebSphere Application Server Version 5 will offer expanded visual tools for Web service construction, presumably building on the outstanding technology that has long highlighted the companys VisualAge Java development suite. IBMs VisualAge for Java is especially distinguished by its smooth integration of configuration management and version-control disciplines into the development cycle, rather than leaving these good practices to the discretion of developers. This is crucial when services must interact reliably despite being devised, deployed and maintained by teams that are unknown to one another. With so many Web sites already using Microsofts ASP (Active Server Pages) technology, Microsoft has an early lead in attracting developers to its ASP.Net follow-on. By dissolving most of the barriers between Web content and application code, using just-in-time compilation and pluggable modules, ASP.Net puts the power of the Web as a content repository into the service of developers as a department store of functional modules. The language transparency of .Netenabling cooperation among everything from scripting languages to COBOL code to new code written in Microsofts C# languageeliminates the "to do" task item of "rewrite everything in Java" thats perceived (more than it deserves to be) as a barrier to adoption of more Java-centric alternatives such as IBMs and Suns. Prospective service developers should not be too quick to credit .Nets promise of superior language neutrality. Sun, for example, has taken pains to ease the integration of legacy code in C/C++ and FORTRAN into nascent Web service efforts, with facilities including wrappers for non-Java code to provide a Java class interface in its Forte Developer 7 tool set.
Also alleviating concerns about Sun domination of Java is the continued role of Borland Software Corp. in advancing Java technology. This summer, Borland rolled out its Enterprise Server 5.1, a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) application server with enhanced support for deploying existing applications as Web services and with emphasis on high-performance bridging into CORBA environments.