Enterprise Wars:
J2EE .Net
        By Don Lykins

            The battle
         is heatin...
The next generation of distributed computing has quickly arrived and
enterprise wars over frameworks, platforms, and progr...
Distributed components remain the          This architecture will expose common
                  single, most important e...
Vendor support for the frameworks is
 Criteria for Evaluation        J2EE            .Net                  Comments
soft is calling Web services. Language
interoperability is the driving force
behind .Net as it allows multiple lan-
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Enterprise Wars: Enterprise Wars:

  1. 1. Enterprise Wars: vs. J2EE .Net By Don Lykins The battle is heating up as Web services become the hot architecture. 28 eAI Journal • January 2002
  2. 2. The next generation of distributed computing has quickly arrived and enterprise wars over frameworks, platforms, and programming lan- guages have begun. Often called the “framework divide,” the Microsoft.Net framework has recently captured the attention of many corporate IT leaders as the next-generation distributed archi- tecture emerges, dubbed Web services. T he Java 2 Platform Enterprise the enterprise and the Internet. lying operating system. Although these Edition (J2EE) framework previ- Both frameworks were designed to choices can be correlated, they need not ously attracted IT leaders due to its support enterprise solutions. Microsoft be entirely in lockstep, as once previous- Internet-ready, multi-platform, thin- produced a formidable foe to J2EE with ly assumed. Even though a significant client architecture. Both J2EE and .Net .Net, and now the platform and language portion of the applications deployed stand firmly on a foundation of program- wars rage on. For most platform zealots, today are on Microsoft Windows, the ming languages, component models, and the battle lines were drawn in 1995 when application framework no longer defaults virtual machines. They’re similar except Sun Microsystems introduced Java. The to Microsoft, as J2EE has become a plat- for one noteworthy attribute — platform battle is heating up as Web services form-neutral choice, effective for many e- independence. Microsoft has decided to become the hot architecture. business and enterprise applications. eliminate the programming language as a Both frameworks can prove viable for Both J2EE and .Net frameworks run barrier for the .Net framework, while enterprisewide solutions for many years equally well on the Windows platform, J2EE eliminates the platform barrier. to come, but an enterprise’s ability to though J2EE’s platform independence Conceptually, J2EE could be the fully exploit either technology will be gives it a slight edge with large, well- most compelling paradigm for most equally challenging. That will require a established organizations that often enterprises, which typically have more sensible strategy, efficient integration, operate disparate, heterogeneous envi- disparate platforms than programming and superior personnel. ronments. languages. However, Microsoft states Fundamentally, the two frameworks are that platforms are neutralized if Why Choose? similar (see Figure 1). Both identify spec- processes and applications are pub- Though most large organizations sup- ifications for the same laundry list of fea- lished across the enterprise as Web ser- port several platforms and languages, tures, albeit in different ways. Both stand vices via a common protocol. they should choose one strategic frame- firmly on a foundation of programming Integration of processes across the work. It will enable creation of an enter- languages, component models, and virtu- enterprise ultimately will dominate IT prise architecture that fosters seamless al machines. J2EE’s Java Virtual Machine strategies as use of custom-built, home- data and application integration, acceler- (JVM ) is remarkably similar conceptual- grown applications fades. Interfacing ating application deployment. ly to .Net’s Common Language Runtime resources inside and outside the enter- Companies should consider the choice (CLR). Since JVM was invented first, one prise will become increasingly impor- of frameworks and associated Internet, n- must think Microsoft was impressed with tant. Choosing the proper middleware tier architectures separate from the under- its viability. strategy could be as important as choos- ing the correct data architecture. Attribute J2EE .Net You’re not alone if your organization Programming Languages Java VB.Net, C#, J#, Cobol is reluctant to choose a strategy based Run-Time Environments JVM CLR on a single platform or framework. Both Web Services ebXML SOAP frameworks will survive for the foresee- Open Standards OMG ECMA able future. Standards such as eXtensi- Interoperability IIOP,RMI, XML SOAP, XML ble Markup Language (XML) and Sim- Data Persistence JDBC, XML ADO+, XML ple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) will Server-Side Component Model JSP, EJB ASP+, COM+ make both frameworks seamless across Figure 1 — Key Framework Attributes eAI Journal • January 2002 29
  3. 3. Distributed components remain the This architecture will expose common single, most important element of any business processes as Web services enterprise architecture strategy, with across the enterprise, so they can be eas- Web services the cornerstone. J2EE has ily reused, resulting in significant sav- a proven, large-scale enterprise-level ings and eliminating duplication of component strategy with its Enterprise applications, services, and resources. JavaBeans (EJB) architecture, while Availability and integration of soft- .Net is building on the popular COM+ ware applications have become key Both architecture. Both have proved them- selves enterprise-ready with high-vol- ume, heavy-user distributed application requirements to organizations pursuing e-business solutions. Unfortunately, there’s never been a single framework frameworks deployments from several large organi- zations. Scalability isn’t an issue with either framework. that addresses all the issues seamlessly and effectively. Connecting Web-based systems with Both frameworks support n-tier archi- legacy, back-end, data or applications support n-tier tectures via client- and server-side compo- nent models for assembling enterprise remains a daunting, expensive task. Although most organizations have Web- applications. This allows use of both fat enabled legacy applications, they’ve architectures and thin user interfaces. J2EE has Java, servlets, and JavaServer Pages (JSPs), lacked an appropriate architecture that avoids interconnectivity issues with new while .Net has ASP+ and VisualBasic.Net, applications. The new Web services par- via client- and along with C# (C sharp). Web Services Paradigm adigm is setting the standard on how applications will be built for the future. server-side “Anything, anytime, anywhere” is the new mantra leading the Web services paradigm. IT professionals have long Evaluating Frameworks XML Web services allow applications to run on a variety of devices and plat- component sought to expose processes across the enterprise and over the Internet in a con- sistent, manageable way. Web services, forms without revisions. Microsoft’s .Net has a significant lead over J2EE regard- ing these services since it executes XML which strive to integrate all Internet- messages over standard Web protocols models for enabled applications, support that vision. Next-generation applications such as HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Microsoft states .Net is about will register themselves in the public or integration and has incorporated both assembling private domain and thus be available for reuse to applications anywhere through XML and SOAP into its framework. J2EE has a slight advantage over .Net the Internet. because it offers a single programming enterprise Business Process Integration (BPI) is a common need among large organiza- tions. Most organizations fail to effec- language capable of running on multi- ple platforms whereas .Net offers multi- ple programming languages (C#, J#, applications. tively reuse digital assets and instead duplicate data, applications, and pro- cesses. Architects have searched for a VisualBasic.Net), which only run on a single platform, Windows. The two most important criteria for framework to easily build reusable, evaluating which framework to adopt enterprisewide processes and services should be: that are reliable, highly available, fault- tolerant, and scalable. Both J2EE and • Openness of the standards the frame- .Net incorporate standards to intercon- work uses nect disparate software applications • The number of platforms the frame- and devices. work can deploy. Consider, as an example, a large auto insurance carrier with multiple divi- Ease of use for developers and speed- sions, each providing similar services to-market for software are also impor- but using different policy systems. tant, as programmers might be transition- Common business processes exist but ing from COBOL or C++. This criteria cannot be shared because the applica- clearly goes to .Net, as VisualBasic.Net tions run on disparate platforms. A solu- is the easiest programming language to tion for the carrier’s problem could be to learn. Virtually any programming disci- develop a Web services or BPI strategy pline can easily migrate to VB, whereas and adopt a framework that enables transitioning to Java usually takes greater interoperability across all applications. skill in object orientation. 30 eAI Journal • January 2002
  4. 4. Vendor support for the frameworks is Criteria for Evaluation J2EE .Net Comments about 10 to one in favor of J2EE. Even Ease of Use VB.net and C# are easier to use (development environment) than J2EE because of VS.net Oracle and IBM have J2EE-compliant Scalability Execute Java code on mainframes application servers. Single Language, Java can run on many platforms Support for open standards is impor- Multi-Platform through a JVM tant because it ensures that organiza- Multiple Language, VB, C#, J#, COBOL all run in tions get the best value for their pur- Single-Platform same run-time environment chase and aren’t locked into dependence Reliability VB/COM developed in 1993, on a particular vendor that may not yet mature code provide sufficient scalability or migra- Performance Both will perform equally well tion support. A J2EE-compliant infra- on same platform Speed of Development VisualBasic code is easier to structure and middleware toolset eases for Software Projects learn and develop with than Java migration up and down the scalability Reuse Deploy same code on multiple chart and across multiple vendors. platforms for multiple projects Open Standards Java, JVM are both open standards The .Net Approach Overall 56% 51% J2EE has a slight edge over .Net, Microsoft announced .Net in July mainly due to multi-platform support 2000 as a revolutionary new platform. A Figure 2 — Scorecard. Attributes ranked: 1=Poor, 5=Excellent. Overall percentages derived from closer look reveals more evolution than potential maximum of 45. revolution. The core of .Net is similar to the J2EE framework. .Net is radically Figure 2 provides a scorecard for rat- not yet been announced to run on non- different in certain aspects, as Microsoft ing the different frameworks. Windows platforms. reworked the overall infrastructure by Central to the J2EE component- adding CLR. The .Net framework Where J2EE Fits In based development model is the notion promises cross-platform interoperabili- J2EE, the Sun Microsystems frame- of containers. These provide a mecha- ty (note: not cross-platform portability), work, provides a comprehensive speci- nism that supports simplified scaling of which eases development of distributed, fication for enterprisewide Java tech- distributed applications, requiring little Internet-based applications. nologies and is designed to provide effort from developers. .Net supports most XML Web server-side and client-side support for Through blueprints and cookbooks, Services standards, along with 24 dif- developing enterprise, multi-tier appli- J2EE has gained stature as the future ferent programming languages. Micro- cations. According to Sun, J2EE standard for everything non-Microsoft. soft has at least caught up with and per- “enables solutions for developing, Organizations not completely commit- haps slightly surpassed the J2EE frame- deploying, and managing multi-tier, ted to the Microsoft paradigm should work by duplicating the concept of server-centric applications.” Key attrib- adopt the J2EE framework. Vendor neu- Java’s virtual machine architecture, and utes (see Figure 3) are platform inde- trality is inherent in J2EE because it’s insisting the future lies in delivering pendence (portability), vendor neutrali- the most portable, vendor-neutral frame- software as services through XML ty, and open standards. work. Unlike Microsoft-oriented .Net, SOAP messages. Microsoft may have The cornerstone of J2EE is the Java J2EE has wide support from other ven- examined Java and J2EE and said, programming language, which is ex- dors such as Sun, IBM, and BEA. “Let’s replicate the concept, but improve tremely versatile, allowing developers to Choices usually mean better products it by creating a brand new programming write software for one platform and exe- and lower costs, and the ability to deploy language, new architecture, and new cute it on another (even cellular tele- J2EE components on various platforms services definition.” However, they left phones and appliances) with no modifi- and operating systems may be attractive off the multi-platform support, which cations. Portability is a key feature of the to enterprises reluctant to depend on a they’re probably working on intensely. J2EE framework that’s often overstated single vendor. Because J2EE is based on The basis of .Net is interoperability and underutilized. Few, if any, organiza- the open Java language, many more and integration at the component layer tions actually port an application from options are available compared to .Net. and business process layer, which Micro- one platform to another, though it’s fea- sible. Still, J2EE’s “write once, run any- where” portability makes it attractive for large enterprises with disparate plat- forms and for small Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) who want • JVM – Java Virtual Machine broad markets for their products. • Java programming language JVM is the gem of J2EE. Most oper- • Multi-platform portability ating systems have a JVM and any pro- gram compiled in Java can run on any platform supporting a JVM. Microsoft’s .Net framework has a simi- lar feature called CLR, though it has Figure 3 — Key Attributes of J2EE eAI Journal • January 2002 31
  5. 5. soft is calling Web services. Language interoperability is the driving force behind .Net as it allows multiple lan- guages to freely share and extend each other’s components. • CLR – Common Language Microsoft claims it’s more important to Run-Time have multiple languages all communicat- • C# and J# programming ing together than the same language across multiple platforms. They dub this the “open languages language architecture” and think any lan- • Open language architecture guage can easily plug into the .Net lan- guage architecture so components can freely interoperate with any other plugged- Figure 4 — Key Attributes of .Net in language. This strategy works great for organizations that have legions of COBOL, Today, multi-platform support isn’t dards community (www.w3C.org). C++, Visual Basic, or even Java program- strategic for Microsoft, thus .Net will If Microsoft were to shift its strategy mers. They can all now program in their never truly dominate the market. If .Net and port its .Net architecture to multiple preferred language and as long as code is doesn’t permit “multiple languages on platforms, it could possibly dominate the written for .Net, everything will generally multiple platforms,” it won’t be a signifi- industry in five to seven years. plug seamlessly together. Microsoft cant player for enterprise solutions within Organizations would finally have the enables this with the new VisualStudio.Net the next seven long-awaited panacea, as .Net develop- environment, which supports languages ment tools (VisualStudio.net) are much such as COBOL, C++, and VB. easier to use than Java Integrated Devel- Key .Net components (see Figure 4) opment Environments (IDEs). However, include CLR, the new C# language, and without this dramatic turn of events, the open language architecture. Al- It’s not a J2EE will continue its strong growth for though .Net is platform-specific, many years to come. Microsoft claims this isn’t an issue disaster to live with Ultimately, it’s not a disaster to live because SOAP permits seamless with two industry standards, as long exchange of data messages across two industry standards, as they can communicate and interop- multiple platforms. erate. Both frameworks will appeal to Microsoft has conceded somewhat to as long as they can many organizations. Any framework the open source community by submit- decision will more likely be shaped by ting the C# specification and parts of the communicate and an organization’s current environment .Net specification to a standards body — the European Computer Manufacturing interoperate. and available resources, rather than on the technical merit of the framework or Association (ECMA), (www.echma.ch). its underlying strategy. Given the proper While this is a far cry from the openness architecture and implementation, both offered with J2EE, it’s a sign that frameworks are equally scalable, reli- Microsoft isn’t ignoring the importance years or more. Organizations consider able, and maintainable, albeit in their of standards. Microsoft has also offered multi-platform support more important own unique ways. up SOAP to the Worldwide Web Consor- than multi-language support, especially tium (W3C, www.w3c.org) and that spec- in today’s post dot.bomb era where IT About the Author ification is rapidly becoming the new resources are readily available and standard for distributed interoperability salaries are declining or stagnant. It’s Don Lykins is with XML. more cost-effective to retrain C/C++ or chief technical offi- COBOL developers in Java than to cer for Portalsoft, A Look Ahead replace all AS/400 or OS/390 platforms an e-solutions con- The .Net framework has a significant with clustered, distributed .Net servers sultancy based in technical advantage over J2EE when it that must be Intel-based. Many of these Cincinnati, OH and comes to interoperability through XML legacy platforms and applications can be specializing in the and SOAP protocol support. It also has a leveraged using the proper JVM, with architecture, devel- superior Web services architecture and new code written in Java. opment, integration, and management of multi-language support through the open Microsoft is ahead of the curve when enterprise e-business solutions. He has 16 language architecture. J2EE does not it comes to Internet-based, distributed years of experience in key IT management include Web services native to its archi- Web services and has established the positions and a strong background providing tecture. However, the lack of multi-plat- baseline for a new frontier — true customer-focused e-solutions to major global companies. He is also a speaker at several form support in the .Net specification Internet-enabled, distributed computing. national events and author. Voice: 513-936- signals Microsoft’s reluctance to support Although the .Net framework isn’t an 0302; e-Mail: dlykins@portalsoftinc.com; truly heterogeneous environments, which open standard, Microsoft has offered the Website: www.portalsoftinc.com. are common. SOAP specification to the open stan- 32 eAI Journal • January 2002