J2EE and .NET servers weigh in

ADTmag.com: J2EE and .NET servers weigh in.

An overview of J2EE vs. .NET, with the conclusion that both have their place and that Web services may make the debate moot by providing a layer of abstraction above them.

Notable observations:

“Where distinctions are drawn,” said Fricke, “is in the area of cross-platform support vs. multiple language support.” J2EE lists a number of supported operating systems to its credit, while .NET is firmly a Windows thing. Meanwhile, Fricke counts Java as the language of J2EE; and C#, C++, Visual Basic and Cobol as languages supporting .NET.

Style, or culture, is also at play here. The J2EE culture, according to Fricke, is more like that of mainframes and Unix, where some assembly is required. The .NET culture is more integrated, like that of AS/400 and NT, he said.

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“.NET came later and had the advantage of being later,” said Fricke. Its creators were able to look at what J2EE creators had done. The accompanying drawback is that .NET is new, and developers and architects need to learn more about how it works in the wild.

And, said Fricke, .NET’s relative ease of development (with plentiful and useful program wizards) fades as large-scale, high-complexity applications are pursued. Those are, almost by definition, heterogeneous, and not a Microsoft strong suit. Also, “you can’t ‘wizard’ your way to a complex supply-chain app,” quipped Fricke, who added that “those advantages dissipate at that level.”

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Although app server distinctions may be overstated, the app server will continue to be an area of interest, especially as operating systems come to be seen more as commodity items. The advent of Linux has, in part, lent credence to this notion.

Fricke and others note that operating systems are no longer the primary application platform for modern apps. Behind the scenes, a general decline in OS influence may be occurring in the market.

At the annual IDC Directions confab held recently in Boston, Paul Mason, the Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm’s group vice president for infrastructure software, enforced this idea. He said that by 2007, revenue for integration servers, application servers, Web servers and clustering software would combine to surpass server OS revenue.

This trend drives some packaging schemes that might not have been anticipated in the past. At the same time, it has moved to ease integration tasks of developers. Solaris and Java originator Sun Microsystems has formed combo packs of its SunONE server and Solaris OS. It is not lost on some that those tacks could come off Microsoft’s course chart.