Enterprises weigh Web development options

IT managers and users don’t have time to make complex alterations of wired applications — a fact vendors acknowledged at Fall Internet World in New York earlier this month with announcements of easily customizable applications and frameworks.

As evidenced at the show, the likes of Oracle Corp., Inprise Corp., Intershop Communications Inc., InterWorld Corp. and others are heeding the call from the increasing number of users who are demanding easy integration of new applications with existing systems.

“Time to market is an issue. People want to get things out very quickly, you can’t afford to spend six months to customize an application to meet your needs,” said Albert Pang, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Mountain View, Calif.

On the building side, Oracle at the Internet World show was among the first vendors to announce business components for Java — both a development and deployment framework that removes much of the complexity in building applications, Oracle officials said.

Like IBM’s competing San Francisco project, Oracle wants to provide a framework for applications that will speed up the development process through easily customizable, packaged applications and reusable components.

Inprise, on the other hand, will deliver an Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB)-compliant application server that leverages its Java tool and object request broker technology for an integrated platform to build and host Web applications by year’s end.

Called WebCore, the new EJB 1.1-based server will merge EJB and CORBA 2.3 services on the Windows NT and Solaris platforms to allow a central point from which to integrate legacy and host applications with new, Java standards-based applications, Inprise officials said.

Internet-commerce applications are often deployed with the most urgency, a situation Intershop sought to address with the demonstration of a complete rewrite of its electronic-commerce application that makes use of native Extensible Markup Language (XML), tightly coupled with a modular component architecture based on EJB.

Now christened “Enfinity,” the Intershop offering is based on a custom-built, lightweight transaction engine that runs on top of an application server from Persistence Software. In addition, the Intershop application includes an XML-based application development environment and a rapid application development tool for workflow applications, called the Enfinity Management Center.

InterWorld also demonstrated its framework for e-commerce applications at Internet World with Version 3.0 of Commerce Exchange, a set of modular components written in C++ that can be used for both business-to-business applications and business-to-consumer applications, according to company officials.

New features in Version 3.0 of Commerce Exchange include a repository for best practices, support for workflows, personalization tools, and a set of tools that enable people to perform different levels of management functions based on an assigned role.

Overall, the middle ground in the build-or-buy spectrum is widening, presenting enterprises with more options, said Anne Thomas, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group in Boston.

Oracle Corp. in Redwood Shores, Calif., is at Inprise Corp. in Scotts Valley, Calif., is at Intershop Communications Inc. in San Francisco is at InterWorld Corp. in New York is at