The struggle between the Object Management Group?s Corba and Microsoft?s Dcom object models has been superceded by a new fight to dominate enterprise software - between Sun?s Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) and Microsoft?s Transaction Server (MTS).
This was the premise of a debate on the relative merits of the two technologies as core server based architectures, which took place at the Comdex Enterprise show in San Francisco.
David Chappell of the David Chappell & Associates consultancy stood firmly in the pro-Microsoft camp. ?MTS comes free with Windows NT, which will be the dominant player in the enterprise over the next three to five years. The enterprise is full of diversity now, but in future, users will be building all of their new applications on NT because it?s cheaper," he argued. "MTS? single most compelling feature is the fact it?s the default transaction processing monitor for NT."
He added: ?I think EJB is toast from the word go. Java is a fine language, but I don?t think the enterprise will go to a single language. Microsoft needs effective competition, but I don?t think EJB offers that. I?d love to see Sun make EJB a real standard, but as it stands today, it?s a non-starter.?
He called on Sun to define a proper standard and to nail down the protocols that should be used for security and transactions. It should also develop a reference implementation, he claimed, as history showed this was the only way to get a standard accepted.
Also, he believes vendors should not be allowed to add their own extensions, as is currently permitted, because this would simply result in proprietary implementations.
But Bill Roth, Sun?s product line manager for the Enterprise Java Platform, retorted: ?EJB will be layered on top of existing enterprise systems, which allows users to protect their investment. This provides them with the notion of individual choice rather than being locked into just one vendor.
He added: "Some 30 companies have committed to EJB, so users can choose the best server for their needs. The problem is we?re arguing apples and oranges here because this is about an architecture versus a product. It?s like comparing the state of Virginia to democracy.?
He added that Sun was currently working to define a complete EJB standard via its OpenAPI project, which asked for input from any interested parties and was also working on a reference implementation to guarantee that Java objects interoperated everywhere.
As for vendor extensions, he acknowledged this was a double-edged sword because it hampered portability, but he said that Sun was currently looking at ways to handle this thorny problem and would introduce a certification scheme to ensure compatibility at both the hardware and software level.
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