Tools vendors grapple over Java vs. .Net

Continuing what has become the Web services' great debate, executives from several tools vendors argued the merits of Java's chances against the rival Microsoft .Net platform, as well as over the existence of multiple open-source efforts in the Java community, during a panel session here at the JavaOne developer conference.

Following a keynote session that featured discussion of Java on the desktop, tools vendors offered varying perspectives about Java's chances against .Net.

J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) success at the enterprise level can be leveraged at the desktop, suggested Tyler Jewell, director of technical evangelism at BEA Systems Inc.

"It's a lot easier to take your understanding of the enterprise and make it useful on the desktop," rather than Microsoft's approach, which is to leverage its desktop experience at the enterprise level, Jewell said.

Borland Software Corp.'s Ted Shelton, senior vice president of business development and chief strategy officer, countered that both environments will co-exist. Vendors need to help customers make their systems work rather than impose ideas on them, Shelton said.

"At the end of the day, it's a heterogeneous environment and we need to ensure that customers get their work done," Shelton said.

IBM Corp.'s Adrian Mitu, market manager for IBM WebSphere Studio, said it would be "myopic to think we will not have .Net in the enterprise."

Mitu also touted IBM's open-source software initiative, Eclipse. "The idea behind Eclipse is creating an open environment," and inviting broad participation, he said.

But Simon Phipps, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s chief technology evangelist, countered with, "Does the world really need two open-source Java tools initiatives?" referring to the Sun NetBeans program.

"I'll say the world always needs a choice," Mitu responded.

A Forte executive charged that the two efforts are more alike than different.

"The ball's in our court to find out what grounds there are for reconciliation," said Peter Young, Forte Tools' vice president.

In other news, some of the companies participating in the panel, and others, made announcements on Monday at the JavaOne show.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun, for instance, said its iPlanet business unit is now offering a Web services framework for integration and portal technologies. Sun unveiled iPlanet XML Adapter Design Toolkit, which provides a framework for building and deploying XML adapters, and WSDL (Web Services Description Language) support for iPlanet Integration Server. Officials also detailed a native J2EE connector architecture for iPlanet Portal Server, to enable information from applications such as SAP AG, PeopleSoft Inc., and SAP to be accessed via iPlanet Integration Server and iPlanet Portal Server.

Sun also announced its involvement in two initiatives -- Java Specification Request (JSR) #168, to establish a portal API for portal integration, and the OASIS Web Services Remote Portal, to standardize how Web services operate in a portal environment.

Database and infrastructure provider Sybase Inc., of Emeryville, Calif., announced the availability of Neon (New Era of Networks) Adapters for Application Servers, which enable users to leverage business processes from existing packaged ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), and supply chain applications for use in e-business applications running on J2EE 1.3-compliant application servers, such as Sybase EAServer, IBM WebSphere, and BEA WebLogic.

Looking to use the backdrop of JavaOne to detail its Web services strategy, Hewlett-Packard Co. announced the availability of HP NetAction Web Services Platform 2.0, for developing and deploying Web services. The product features a SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) server for sending and receiving SOAP messages. The company also announced availability of HP NetAction Application Server Resilient Edition 8.2, HP Agile Business Infrastructure Solution portfolio, and HP Apache-based Web Server 2.0 for HP-UX 11i.

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