Oracle and Sun fire at MS with J2EE-migration toolkit

On the same day that Microsoft Corp. chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates will detail his company's tool set for building Web services, Visual Studio.NET, Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are in cahoots to lure Windows developers and code to J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition).

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun and Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif., are pushing the idea that developers stand at a crossroads at which they need to learn Web services skills in the form of either Windows or Java. Furthermore, Sun and Oracle are looking to grab some of the Visual Basic and other Microsoft language programmers that are unhappy with the learning curve associated with C#, Microsoft's new programming language.

".NET is forcing the issue because changes mean developers have to learn new skills," said John Magee, Oracle's senior director of 9i product marketing.

The toolkit, Oracle Migration Kit for ASP (Active Server Pages), offers a phased migration plan for moving operating system environments, databases, and applications from Windows to J2EE running on Sun servers and Oracle's 9i Application Server.

"We've got a set of tools that can do the migration from the proprietary Microsoft stack to J2EE on a Sun/Oracle environment," Oracle's Magee said.

Microsoft earlier this year brought the JuMP (Java User Migration Path) toolkit to market, for migrating Java code to Windows.

Analysts say that although programmers may be having trouble transferring their skills to new languages, Java is still tougher to use than C#.

Peter Urban, a senior analyst at AMR Research in Boston, added that Microsoft is likely to win some mindshare with C# and Visual Studio.NET.

"C# is easier to use than Java; Java is still pretty hard to use," Urban said.

Urban continued that usability and the fact that Java programmers are limited to only the Java language are two of the most significant downsides to J2EE as a platform. Microsoft's efforts with C# and the Common Language Runtime (CLR), on the other hand, enable developers to write in any one of 23 languages, and run that code in Visual Studio.

Dan Kusnetsky, a software analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said that he doesn't expect the majority of companies to switch between Java and .NET, in either direction.

"People have a tendency never to change for change's sake. Generally speaking, people go with what they know until it no longer works, and they will go with something that is close to what they know," he said.

The Oracle Migration Kit for ASP will be available as a free download in 60 days.

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