Cooperative Stance

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-08-05 Print this article Print

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.

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.

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 .Net—enabling cooperation among everything from scripting languages to COBOL code to new code written in Microsofts C# language—eliminates 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.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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