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Technical insight: J2EE or .NET?

By Darryl Connor

It’s not about which is better…

The respective disciples of Microsoft’s .NET development framework and its open standards counterpart, J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) continue to debate which of the two is more appropriate and sustainable for large enterprises.

J2EE followers maintain, for example, that .NET locks its users into the Windows environment and fails to offer the flexibility provided by J2EE. Microsoft supporters, on the other hand, argue that J2EE does not boast the large development community for which Microsoft is renowned.

The question is not about which technology is better of the two, but about corporate preference and what best suits the business environment.

Numerous applications have been successfully developed using both technologies. Consequently, application developers should not be prescriptive to their clients by promoting one technology over the other. Rather, they should base their development on what is appropriate for that particular business environment. It must be remembered that both technologies strive to achieve the same objective – a totally integrated environment.

The client operating in a homogenous technical environment will naturally be inclined to one particular technology. If the organisation is already a Microsoft shop, for example, then future developments and upgrades should naturally be based on .NET. If the organisation runs a Unix environment, however, or is heterogeneous across multiple operating systems and hardware platforms, then J2EE would be the obvious choice. It is always best to look at the business case for each development framework and make a recommendation based on the one that best meets the business criteria.

For companies that intend interacting with customers and partners outside the organisation, interchangeable development standards are important. Most organisations are heading in this direction, but once again the issue of integration must be considered.

I believe the market has room for both .NET and J2EE, and that these two technologies will become the development platforms of choice over the next two to three years. This is in line with Gartner’s prediction of a resurgence in legacy systems by organisations and their use of .NET and J2EE to expose their business processes. Competing technologies in the market is good, as it provides choice, and assures users that they don’t need to replace their existing IT environment – in which they have probably made a substantial investment – with another, merely because it is obsolete.

Adoption in South Africa of J2EE and .NET continues to be slow, probably owing to South Africans’ conservative outlook, and the fact that they do not have access to the resources available in Europe and the US. However, both technologies continue to mature and companies will use them to stabilise and grow their business until a new technology emerges.

Darryl Connor is national operations manager of Paracon Holdings.

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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