While IBM has launched the third release of its San Francisco Java based application templates, analysts are sceptical over whether the much touted project will ever take off.
San Francisco, which was launched to great fanfare last year (see Newswire 21 July 1997), is targeted at the small to medium-sized business market and is sold via value added resellers. They are supposed to take the templates and customise them for their customers, but according to analysts, uptake has remained low.
Bobby Cameron, senior analyst at Forrester Research, explained: ?The feedback we?re hearing from applications vendors is that San Francisco is interesting, but there?s not a lot of commitment to it and you need a lot of commitment to make it work. There?s not a lot of aggressive adoption right now, if ever. IBM is taking the classical big systems approach to design and while this is conceptually on target, it?s too difficult to implement.?
He continued: ?It?s not that IBM?s heart is not in the right place. It?s just not offering people what they can use, although intellectually they might think they want it. I don?t think San Francisco will be a big success.?
Microsoft, on the other hand, he said, was taking a more practical approach to the same problem. It had set up industry specific groups to identify and define 'pain points', and then written templates with production ready code to solve these problems and make development as easy as possible.
However, because Big Green did not want to be seen as an applications supplier, it had packaged up the code as development toolkits and given them to the Vars for free, so making them relatively widespread, he argued. Examples of such templates include the Active Store architecture for linking up point of sale machines and the Value Chain initiative.
IBM UK would not comment on Microsoft's strategy but claimed it was seeing "mounting enthusiasm from large sites" for San Francisco.
"IBM's San Francisco is unique in the industry. No other company today offers software developers and enterprise customers pre-tested, reusable Java components that provide the basis for rapidly building e-business applications," was the official line from John Swainson, general manager of application and integration middleware at IBM.
Version 1.3 of San Francisco now includes accounts receivable and payable templates that can track transactions in multiple currencies to support the move to European Monetary Union. The frameworks can now also run on Sun?s Solaris, HP/UX and Siemens Reliant Unix as well as IBM AIX, Windows NT and OS/400, which were already supported.
They are scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter, but IBM will start rewriting them as Enterprise Java Beans during the first half of next year, starting with common business objects.
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