Some users slow to adopt EJB

Web services, which allow applications to swap functionality across the Web, received a boost from BEA Systems Inc. here this week at eWorld 2001, the vendor's sixth annual user conference.

The firm announced that its WebLogic Server will soon support a bevy of Web services protocols (see chart). But some users said they're not ready because they don't yet use Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB), a component needed to make Web services work.

Joe Licata, vice president of system services at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, said EJBs require a lot of memory and therefore aren't always the best choice. "EJBs are overhyped," said Licata. "We are concerned about speed and scalability, and they can slow down an application."

Still, Licata said EJBs will aid in the development of Web services for the bank so it can reach out to the computing environments of customers and partners.

EJB Alternatives

"EJBs are useful for building business transactions, but they can be overkill," said Mike Gilpin, an analyst at Giga Information Group. Gilpin said he expects wider EJB use by midyear.

EJBs provide common functionality to Java applications, such as transaction support or security, regardless of the type of server on which the application runs. But instead of using EJBs, which are complex to build, a number of developers use JavaScript and servlets - server-side code - to handle transactions and database queries, said Yefim Natis, an analyst at Gartner Group.

Natis estimated that a mere 20 percent of applications contain EJBs at present, but he expects usage to double to 40 percent by 2003. "The importance of an EJB architecture is that it allows you to have a loosely coupled environment," Natis said, adding that infrastructure is required for Web services.

Derrick Willis, project manager of middleware at Frito-Lay Inc., said his company doesn't use EJBs or Web services at the moment but plans to make the shift during the year. "We're using [Common Object Request Broker Architecture] and JavaScript and servlets. We're into the new technology, but we're just starting with WebLogic."

Still, some firms - including Visa U.S.A. Inc. and Universal Studios - are building applications faster using EJB components and common utilities.

"[EJB] allows for more flexibility and reuse," said Sara Garrison, a senior vice president of technology development at Visa. "And the more common your utilities in context of main processing operations, the more customized you can be."

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