Developers take the platform taste test

Arguing the virtues of .Net over Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) or vice versa is as productive as arguing the virtues of Coke over Pepsi – both are here to stay, both offer similar benefits and features, and neither is a clear “winner” over the other, concluded participants at a roundtable discussion at Borland Software Corp.’s BorCon conference in Anaheim, Calif.

The roundtable, concerning application development in the world of Java and .Net, featured Borland executives, analysts and high-profile Borland customers.

Borland, a company in the unique position of offering tools in both Java and .Net, put forth the question of whether customers have to pick just one horse in the enterprise development race. The resounding answer was “no,” however, like participants in the Pepsi challenge, each individual prefers a different flavour.

According to Simon Thornhill, vice-president and general manager of RAD solutions at Borland, the option of two flavours fits well with Borland’s credo of freedom of choice.

“A lot of organizations are going to develop in both Java and .Net because doing so works as sort of insurance policy. Large IT organizations want to make sure that they don’t have all of their eggs in one basket. What if Microsoft takes a turn with .Net that doesn’t fit with an organization? Or if Java does something down the road that doesn’t fit? Using both frameworks can be a safety net,” he said.

Ted Shelton, senior vice-president of business development and chief strategy officer at Borland, agreed and described the true winner of this challenge as “J2EE.Net.”

Stamford, Conn.-based Tom Murphy, an analyst with Meta Group, insisted that the idea of an unending race between Java and .Net is positive for the industry and for the resulting applications.

“Most people like the ability to have choice, and there’s a good opportunity for choice right now. This competition pushes Java and Microsoft further along, and as long as that occurs, competition is a good thing,” he said, noting that the battle is more of a Coke versus Pepsi scenario than a beta versus VHS one.

Murphy did caution that while competition is a positive thing, it could get out of control.

“Obviously a battle of the giants scenario that destroys the whole city doesn’t help you either,” he said.

According to John Meyer, an analyst at Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Mass., it is the tools that will win out in the long run.

“Tools will rule,” he said. “According to feedback that we’ve been getting from our client base, large enterprise organizations have got and will continue to use both Java and .Net, however, in reality, choice can be a credible threat. It’s a little like religion or political persuasion – customers want to stick to one vendor. There will always be some bias.”

Keith Chuvala, representing NASA United Space Alliance indicated that for his organization .Net is the clear winner. Gopi Balija of Strategic Informatics Corp. agreed that despite the fact that he’d “love to hate Microsoft,” his company will continue to develop with .Net.

Brad Caster with Harland Financial Solutions had a different take on the topic.

“A programmer’s a programmer,” Caster said. “Whatever the platform or language of the day, a decent programmer will be able to deliver it.”

More information on BorCon can be found at

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