John Slitz, IBM?s senior software executive, warned recently that Java would not be adequate for developing midrange server-based applications for at least a year. His reservations are echoed in a new report from IDC, which says that fewer than 10 per cent of companies worldwide are deploying Java applications.
With 90 per cent of software industry revenue coming from the corporate sector, it is critical for Java to succeed in that market. But to Javasoft parent Sun?s disappointment, fewer than 15 per cent of companies with 100-plus employees are even evaluating Java, says IDC.
At the high end of the corporate market, in companies employing over 5,000, the take-up is higher, with 25 per cent of those surveyed saying they plan to implement applications this year. By 2000, the research firm expects that Java will account for almost half of the expected $2 billion revenues from Internet-centric development tools.
Evan Quinn, research director for IDC's Internet software group, commented: ?This will be driven in part by companies deploying more complex Web sites for which HTML is not sophisticated enough. You can?t get objects in HTML to talk to each other.?
Currently, Java is not generating significant business revenues in the systems software market. The smart money is with IBM?s Slitz, forecasting that it will take another two years before the language makes a real impact.
However, Sun and its partners are pouring significant resources into generating market interest. They are investing heavily in education and training courses, many arranged in conjunction with recruitment consultants. Compass Recruitment, for example, is refunding the costs of courses for employees after three months in employment.
Another useful indication of market demand is salary. To date, Java programmers are earning around #30,000 maximum, even in the City - always a lucrative environment for IT professionals with scarce skills. This reflects the immaturity of Java, and that users are biding their time before making any strategic commitments.
IDC?s findings are no surprise. Java, at present, is little more than a programming language. It lacks a rich application environment, and fulfilling its potential for real commercial gain may take even longer than two or three years.
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