Feb 26, 2001|
World war III: .NET vs J2EE
With the Internet revolution began the race to dominate the web space. The war began with the browsers market. Microsoft and Netscape fought to gain a dominant market share. Then the focus shifted to Web servers, to the development tool for Internet related software. The platform independent Java, it seemed, was the answer and it very rapidly caught on with the development community. And of course there was the mighty Microsoft that was as usual out to destroy anything non-Microsoft. But for once it seemed to have missed the boat. Java was dominant.
The Internet itself is evolving very rapidly. Over the years two things have been continuously improving: they are bandwidth availability and the processing power of computers. This had led to the popularity of distributed computing. The idea is to use pre-defined routines, functions and components over the Internet. This would serve two purposes. One it would bring in a lot more uniformity (standardization) and two, it would reduce the time taken for development. This is very similar to the concept of plug-ins where in you added whatever functionality you want to your browser. These applications are pre-written, all you have to do you identify a particular functionality and integrate it. With not much solution available this is an open space, which has given Microsoft the chance for a much-needed comeback.
Sun unveiled its J2EE (Java 2 platform Enterprise Editions), which defines the standard for developing multi-tier enterprise applications. J2EE simplifies enterprise applications by basing them on standardized, modular components (pre-written codes), by providing a complete set of services (like assigning identity to a component) to those components, and by handling many details of application behavior automatically, without complex programming.
Microsoft not to be left behind came out with .NET framework. Conceptually, it is the same; the only difference being it is built around Microsoft platforms and brings in a tight integration amongst them. The five pillars for the .NET platform are:
.NET Framework and Microsoft Visual Studio.NET developer tools
This will provide the development environments for the applications to be written.
Windows and the Microsoft .NET Enterprise Servers
Severs that will connect the applications and the development environment to the Internet.
.NET Foundation Services
This will provide basic services to the users and developers like identity. The coherent identity across services will allow applications from exchanging meaningful data relevant to users and developers.
The job of this layer would be to create the platform independence magic that java has taken the world over with. The .NET framework should ideally work on any device provided its connected to the Internet.
These four together will form the .NET platform but what will provide Microsoft the cutting edge will be compatible applications.
- .NET - compatible applications
This will consist of a set of applications that will run on top of the .NET platform like Microsoft’s existing products, the MSN network and office tools etc. Suppose an enterprise application built using .NET platform needs data analysis, then this can be done using Microsoft excel.
||Based on C#
|Based on Java
||.NET common components
API (application program interface)
||Active Server Pages+ (ASP+)
||Java ServerPages (JSP)
|Internal Language (IL)
||Java Virtual Machine and
CORBA (common object
IDL (interface definition language)
and ORB (object request broker)
|Win Forms and Web Forms
||ADO (activex data object) and
SOAP(simple object access protocol)
-based Web Services
|JDBC (Java database connectivity),
EJB(enterprise java beans),
JMS (Java message service) and
Java XML Libraries (XML4J, JAXP)
Microsoft fired another volley when it introduced JUMP to .NET (Java User Migration Path to Microsoft .NET) recently. Microsoft forte always has been ease of use. It seems to be capitalizing on this again.
JUMP to .NET includes an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), a component framework and runtime libraries and a conversion tool that will allow Java developers to migrate to the .NET platform. It’s very interesting to note that the development of JUMP was done at MIDC (Microsoft India Development Centre) in Hyderabad.
This of course is just the beginning. With software companies pressed more and more for shorter implementation time, demand for platforms like this will grow. The market is in a fairly nascent stage. The initial version of .NET won't be real until sometime in late 2001.
Sun’s forte has been robustness and open source which goes a long way in meeting the basic requirements of a system especially that is of a distributed nature. Is the threat for real? Yes, considering the fact that .NET is a subtle shift in Microsoft’s strategy in which they have attacked for the first time Java’s open source initiatives. But doing this will be a tough task for Microsoft. The allies and the communists divided the world once upon a time. Now, with the virtual world war, it looks like the world will be divided between Microsoft on one side and all Non-Microsoft on the other. But this will be a war with a positive outcome for the users.
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