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News Analysis: Java? It's So Nineties

P: n/a

DECEMBER 13, 2005 . Editions: N. America | Europe | Asia | Edition
Preference
News Analysis
By Steve Hamm
Source:
http://www.businessweek.com/technolo...213_042973.htm

Peter Yared, CEO of software maker ActiveGrid, spent a critical chapter of
his career steeped in Java, the programming language developed by Sun
Microsystems (SUNW). In the late 1990s, Yared was chief technology officer
of NetDynamics, which pioneered an application server designed to boost the
performance of Web sites. It was based squarely on then wildly popular Java.
He went on to spend five years as an executive at Sun. So it's especially
surprising that Yared holds this view: "Java is a dinosaur."

But Yared has good reason for thinking that way. His two-year-old company
sells what he calls a "next generation" application server, used to build
Web sites and corporate applications, that doesn't rely on Java. Instead,
it's tied to open-source software packages, including the Linux operating
system, the Apache Web server, the MySQL database, and a collection of
so-called scripting languages that all start with the letter P -- Perl,
Python, and PHP. Hence the acronym LAMP.

LIGHTING THE LAMP. Yared says developers far and wide are creating a new
generation of Internet-based applications with LAMP and related technologies
rather than with Java. Can it possibly be that Java -- once the hippest of
hip software -- has become a legacy technology, as old and out of style as
IBM's (IBM) mainframe computers and SAP's corporate applications? Mounting
evidence points to yes.

Reports by Evans Data Corp., which does annual surveys of the activities of
software developers, show Java use is slipping as LAMP and Microsoft's
(MSFT) .NET technology gain traction. In North America, the percentage of
developers who use Java as one of their principal programming languages
declined to 47.9 in Evans' fall survey, vs. 51.4% in the fall of 2002. The
same surveys show that while Java use is climbing in Asia, it's on the
decline in Europe.

Meanwhile, .NET usage increased to 54.1% from 40.3% in the same period in
North America, and exceeded Java use in Europe and Asia. In a different
survey series, the use of PHP in North America grew to 36.1% this fall, from
26% in the fall of 2003. It grew almost as quickly in Europe and Asia.
"There's more competition out there," says Evans President John Andrews.
"These other technologies are catching hold. They're biting away at [Java's]
share."

"I VEHEMENTLY DISAGREE." Another indicator of possible Java decline comes
from shifts in the popularity of books being bought by developers. According
to O'Reilly Media, the leading independent publisher of books for
programmers, sales of Java-related books are off 4% so far this year, while
sales of books related to AJAX, a new Web site-building formula used
predominantly with open-source software packages, are up 68%. Java book
sales are still much larger, however.

Sun is adamant that Java isn't losing momentum. "I vehemently disagree,"
says John Loiacono, executive vice-president of Sun's software division. "Is
Java at the end of life? We think Java is just kicking in." He points to the
continued strength of Java as a mainstay of large, complex corporate
applications, as well as the popularity of Java in cell phones, where 600
individual models run Java, and seven of the top 10 mobile games are based
on the technology.

Even as Java holds its own in key areas, interviews with more than a dozen
tech industry players and analysts indicate the landscape is shifting in
ways that disadvantage Java. That carries serious implications not only for
Sun but companies including IBM, BEA Systems (BEAS), and jBoss, which have
made huge bets on Java. If Java's luster dims, so does the appeal of
products based on the language. And that creates inroads for competitors
such as Microsoft and the non-Java faction of the open-source crowd.

NEW PROGRAM. Here's a look at a few of the seismic shifts underway. For
one, many of the now-large companies built from the ground up to operate on
the Internet don't make Java a major piece of their tech strategy. Those
include Google (GOOG) and Yahoo! (YHOO). The new generation of
lighter-weight programming tools, including AJAX and PHP, are immensely
popular with the Web 2.0 startups, including the likes of Friendster,
Flickr, and Facebook. The new tools allow programmers with less training to
build applications rapidly.

Browser pioneer Marc Andreessen, chairman of Zend, a PHP company, says the
shift is like the one in the 1990s from traditional programming languages C
and C+ to Java. "We're seeing it now with a big migration from Java to PHP
in Web development," he says. Stats back him up. The number of Web sites
using PHP has risen to 23 million today from zero in 2000, according to
surveys by the Internet analysis firm Netcraft.

When Java emerged in the mid-1990s, it was seen as a potential antidote to
Microsoft's hegemony. Using Java, software programmers and Web site
developers could write a program once and run it on a wide variety of
computer operating systems. Java failed to make a dent in Microsoft's
desktop Windows monopoly, but it became a powerful force in the world of
server computers, used for running large corporate applications and Web
sites.

CORPORATE CONNECTION. So far, Java retains its stronghold in
corporations -- even among heavy open-source software users. Red Hat (RHAT),
the leading distributor of Linux software, recently created support programs
for three separate groupings of Linux and related software. One is for
simple Web sites and Web applications, and doesn't include Java. But the two
other groupings, for more sophisticated Web sites and enterprise
applications, have Java. "If you want to do more sophisticated things,
you've got to have Java in it," says Tim Yeaton, senior vice-president for
marketing at Red Hat.

But even in corporations, Java can't rest on its laurels. "You see that
technology migrates from hackers to innovative users and eventually to the
mainstream," says Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media. The
situation at Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER) in New York is telling. The
investment bank runs many of its newer math-heavy applications -- such as
options, futures, and derivatives -- using just Linux and the Apache server.

These technologies are superior to Java in computational applications, says
Andy Brown, chief technology architect at Merrill Lynch. "It's closer to the
metal," he says. "When you write code on Linux there are less layers. You
don't need Java for it." When it comes to writing new desktop applications
for traders and salespeople, many are written with Microsoft's Visual Studio
..NET programming tools. "It's very fast to develop," Brown says.

A WIDER .NET. Microsoft, which recently released an update of its .NET
technology, says it's seeing gains across the board -- in large companies
and from small, complex applications to simple ones. Market research backs
it up. An October report by IDC shows that 35.7% of large corporations
surveyed said they use .NET for their most important applications, compared
with 25.3% for Java.

An earlier Jupiter Research report showed that 62% of midsize businesses
have adopted .NET, vs. 36% for IBM's WebSphere technology, which is based on
Java. Microsoft expects Java to gradually become less and less important for
corporations. "The future of Java is to become an underlying programming
framework that nobody makes any money on," says John Montgomery, a director
in Microsoft's developer division. "It becomes a commodity."

Montgomery acknowledges that Microsoft hasn't done well with the Web 2.0
set, but he expects that to change. It has released a test version of server
software that enables Web developers to easily use AJAX on top of Windows.

CLOSE RACE. Sun acknowledges that .NET is picking up steam in corporations.
"There will be more than one language out there," says Sun's Loiacono.
"Plus, it's Microsoft. They'll be a player." Still, he believes Java and
..NET are essentially in a dead heat and denies that .NET has pulled out into
the lead.

Sun, IBM, and other members of the Java community are steadily adding
capabilities to the software, though at a slower pace than during its go-go
years. At the same time, Sun has offered open-source versions of its Solaris
operating system and related software packages as competition to LAMP.

IBM stands by its commitment to Java. Its WebSphere middleware is a
multibillion-dollar business that grew 14% last quarter. Big Blue believes
Java will remain a vital piece of technology for corporations. But when it
comes to the dot-com world, IBM is hedging its bets. Earlier this year, it
threw its weight behind PHP as a Web programming language.

"The culture at IBM isn't to get enamored with one technology," says Rod
Smith, vice-president for emerging software technologies at IBM. "People
want to do different things. We say, 'We can do that.'" And to Java's
possible detriment, so do a rising number of other developers.

Dec 15 '05 #1
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5 Replies


P: n/a
Hi,

<Snip text of interesting article about Java>

Personally, I think Java on the server is a bit pointless, but I've
recently had to install Sun's Java on hundreds of machines for the first
time, because more and more open-source guys are using it as a client UI
surface. Why? Because .NET UI doesn't run on Linux (other than emulation).

Future apps MUST run cross-platform, and use open-standards technology;
a good strategy is to use shared C++ libraries, but then write small
front-ends; one for Windows, one for Linux, but the "engine" can be
shared which will save you a lot of work trying to jump from one o/s to
another. Better still is to use web apps instead.

The best option for UI is to use W3C and DHTML, but some apps (like
drawing) will need more and that's where something like Java becomes
attractive.

Microsoft are starting to push W3C's XHTML for HTTP streams sent to the
browser, but this kind of conflicts with their hype about using XAML
with a Windows-only "smart" client.

TZESENG wrote:
DECEMBER 13, 2005 . Editions: N. America | Europe | Asia | Edition Source:
http://www.businessweek.com/technolo...213_042973.htm

--
Gerry Hickman (London UK)
Dec 18 '05 #2

P: n/a
> Personally, I think Java on the server is a bit pointless, but I've
recently had to install Sun's Java on hundreds of machines for the first
time, because more and more open-source guys are using it as a client UI
surface. Why? Because .NET UI doesn't run on Linux (other than emulation).
What exactly do you mean about "emulation?" .Net is almost exactly like Java
in this respect. Both technologies require a virtual machine to operate on
any machine. You just said that you had to install Java on hundreds of
machines. What's the difference between installing Java, and installing the
..Net platform?

--
HTH,

Kevin Spencer
Microsoft MVP
..Net Developer
You can lead a fish to a bicycle,
but it takes a very long time,
and the bicycle has to *want* to change.

"Gerry Hickman" <ge********@yahoo.co.uk> wrote in message
news:ui****************@TK2MSFTNGP14.phx.gbl... Hi,

<Snip text of interesting article about Java>

Personally, I think Java on the server is a bit pointless, but I've
recently had to install Sun's Java on hundreds of machines for the first
time, because more and more open-source guys are using it as a client UI
surface. Why? Because .NET UI doesn't run on Linux (other than emulation).

Future apps MUST run cross-platform, and use open-standards technology; a
good strategy is to use shared C++ libraries, but then write small
front-ends; one for Windows, one for Linux, but the "engine" can be shared
which will save you a lot of work trying to jump from one o/s to another.
Better still is to use web apps instead.

The best option for UI is to use W3C and DHTML, but some apps (like
drawing) will need more and that's where something like Java becomes
attractive.

Microsoft are starting to push W3C's XHTML for HTTP streams sent to the
browser, but this kind of conflicts with their hype about using XAML with
a Windows-only "smart" client.

TZESENG wrote:
DECEMBER 13, 2005 . Editions: N. America | Europe | Asia | Edition

Source:
http://www.businessweek.com/technolo...213_042973.htm

--
Gerry Hickman (London UK)

Dec 18 '05 #3

P: n/a
Hi Kevin,
You just said that you had to install Java on hundreds of
machines. What's the difference between installing Java, and installing the
.Net platform?


I agree, but what I saying was that I was _surprised_ to be installing
Java in late 2005 - I thought it had died about 10 years ago! I was
"Windows-only" for about 10 years and I'm only just starting to wake up
to the new vendor-independent way of doing things. I don't think there's
a viable .NET emulation for Linux right now, and probably never will be,
because of parts of it (like Avalon) being tied to the o/s.

--
Gerry Hickman (London UK)
Jan 1 '06 #4

P: n/a
Hi Gerry,

I'd suggest you to take a look at the mono project
(http://www.mono-project.com/) apparently they are quite successful in
migrating the .NET Framework to several different platforms, inluding
Linux, Solaria and MacOS.

..NET platform isn't tied to any OS, it happens that due to the
marketshare that MS still holds in the desktop business is pretty
obvious that many new technologies (such as Avalon) are delivered first
to Windows' boxes.

All in all, .NET code are compiled to MSIL that's an open standard and
can be freely ported to any platform one might like. And I have seen
the same compiled .NET applications run smoothly on Windows and Linux
-- much to my surprise... (and I lost $5 on it too... :-\ )

Regards,

PJ
http://pjondevelopment.50webs.com/

Jan 2 '06 #5

P: n/a
Hi PJ,

OK, here's the setup I'm currently working on; I have a team of
developers who target ASP.NET 2.0 from remote stations over HTTP using
the Frontpage Extensions which then target Source Control. The back end
is SQL server and there are COM+ components in the middle tier.

Can you tell me how to set up the web serving part of the above using
Apache and Mono?

(I tried to read their docs, but some categories simply say "no
documentation available").

pj*************@gmail.com wrote:
Hi Gerry,

I'd suggest you to take a look at the mono project
(http://www.mono-project.com/) apparently they are quite successful in
migrating the .NET Framework to several different platforms, inluding
Linux, Solaria and MacOS.

.NET platform isn't tied to any OS, it happens that due to the
marketshare that MS still holds in the desktop business is pretty
obvious that many new technologies (such as Avalon) are delivered first
to Windows' boxes.

All in all, .NET code are compiled to MSIL that's an open standard and
can be freely ported to any platform one might like. And I have seen
the same compiled .NET applications run smoothly on Windows and Linux
-- much to my surprise... (and I lost $5 on it too... :-\ )

Regards,

PJ
http://pjondevelopment.50webs.com/

--
Gerry Hickman (London UK)
Jan 2 '06 #6

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