Sun Microsystems president Ed Zander had a simple message for the Internet and Electronic Commerce show in New York this week - just say no. That?s no to mainframes, no to software upgrades and no to the Year 2000 crisis, but a big yes to '100% Java' as the main driver of electronic commerce.
Despite promising not to turn his keynote address on the second day of the conference into a Sun product plug, Zander nevertheless spent a lot of time outlining the claimed benefits of Java-based development for electronic commerce applications as well as suggesting areas to cut back on in their IT spending.
"Don?t upgrade your desktops," he suggested, claiming there was no reason to keep updating basic applications such as word procesing packages. "Resist companies that try to make you upgrade. Take some medicine. Say no to Office 97 - you don?t need another spreadsheet."
And users should say no to mainframes - "keep the ones you?ve got, but say no to more" - and get on the network computer bandwagon.
His final suggested item for rejection was the Year 2000, or more specifically, the idea of rewriting Cobol-based applications to become Millennium-compliant.
End users should be spending on bandwidth. "Take a look at your backbone systems, your ISDN or your ATM or whatever," he said. "This is no different to putting an interstate highway in your city or country. Get your company onto an interstate."
And of course, they should be allocating budget to investing in Java. "Start by doing a project," he advised. "Don?t rewrite enterprise applications in Java, that?s not what it?s for. Just take one application and get started."
But he urged companies to insist on 100% Java - the industry specification that indicates compatibility - adding that no one company should be allowed to co-opt the language, including Sun or Microsoft - the latter referred to as "the dark side". He insisted: "No proprietary extensions: ActiveX has to run Java applets unmodified."
In a separate presentation to the conference, Gartner research director Bob Gill cited the industry perception of Java as a focal point for the computing paradigm shift caused by the Internet, but warned that the language would have "gross immaturity" until the end of next year.
He identified four ?Meanings of Java?, which Gartner believes will characterise the Java industry until the turn of the century. First up is 'Java the language', which is, according to Gartner, "attaining a degree of success unparalleled for such an immature technology".
This has been accompanied by 'Java the aura', which Gill pointed out does not necessarily reflect the software?s ability, merely its hype. 'Java the platform' comes next, as the language and virtual machines become increasingly used by developers this year. Finally, possibly in 1999, comes 'Java ubiquity', with support embedded in devices such as TVs and cellular phones.
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