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Microsoft's .Net: Not A J2EE Killer

Giga Information Group report says .Net helps Microsoft become more competitive in the enterprise development market but won't make it a real threat to its major competition, Sun's J2EE.

Over the next two years, Microsoft won't capture more than 35% of the lucrative enterprise development market and will make little headway against its major competition, Sun Microsystems' Java 2 Enterprise Edition, according to a new research report from Giga Information Group.

".Net clearly strengthens Microsoft's platform and gives it a stronger play into the enterprise, but not enough to significantly change the balance," says Giga VP and analyst Randy Heffner, the principle author of the report. "In other words, it's not a J2EE killer,"

Giga estimates that 85% of large enterprise customers use either Sun's J2EE or Microsoft technologies as their strategic development platform. The Giga report says the J2EE platform provides a richer set of tools and more vendor independence than Microsoft's .Net. Though Microsoft will maintain strength with small to midsize businesses, the report points out that J2EE has more mature clustering, load balancing, and failover technology, and Java is a more productive language for building enterprise applications, at least until C# and .Net mature.

With the introduction of the .Net framework over the past year, more companies are considering the improved scalability and advanced technologies that Microsoft is offering. But .Net isn't proven technology yet. "The transition to .Net is a major risk that enterprise customers need to take into account," says Heffner. Heffner says .Net adoptees must move existing infrastructure over to a new architecture, which could introduce instability risks. Further, existing Microsoft shops that are moving to .Net will have to decide where to use the old Microsoft architecture vs. the new, and when to convert old applications to .Net. Microsoft's .Net won't achieve the stability that Microsoft's non-.Net technologies have today until "at least late 2002 and possibly well into 2003," according to the report.

While many large businesses deploy both Microsoft and J2EE technologies in various departments, Heffner sees advantages in focusing on one platform. Customers will derive more architectural benefits for their infrastructure if they "consolidate their investment by making a primary commitment to one and containing their investment in the other to exception situations," he writes.

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