Special: .Net v Java - Exclusive Research Findings

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There’s a new holy war about to break out in the enterprise software world as old favourite Java squares up to the young pretender.Net. On the one side is Microsoft, on the other Oracle, Sun Microsystems, IBM et al. But is it still a case as Oracle CEO Larry Ellison once declared: “It’s Microsoft versus the rest of the world - Microsoft slightly favoured!”?

CRM Forum - The Enterprise Software Community in association with leading UK research firm Vanson Bourne polled 100 UK chief information officers to guage their reaction to the forthcoming conflict and to determine what the current prevailing mood was regarding .Net. The bad news for Microsoft is that to date most view .Net as a desktop phenomenon and not something that need enter into high end enterprise strategic thinking.

The survey asked firstly whether .Net featured at all in IT thinking. Only 20 per cent responded positively. “Around one in five IT directors say that their organisation does have .net built into its future application infrastructure strategy, although it is interesting and perhaps a little disconcerting to note that one in three didn’t know,” notes Kevin Withnall, Vanson Bourne co-founder.

Those who say they are seriously looking at .net were asked how they viewed the platform. It is immediately clear that it is being seen by most as a purely desktop environment and not as a direct competitor to J2EE. “But perhaps this view is a moving feast,” suggests Withnall. “Some 35 per cent of IT Directors in the UK, according to the research, suggest it is important that application software vendors are able to support both .net and J2EE.

“It’s also worth noting that within the technologically advanced finance market, almost half the IT Director respondents - 48 per cent - had this dual platform outlook. This is a big company perspective with over 60 per cent of the largest companies in the UK, according to the research, already actively working within a web services strategy and a further 34 per cent of these organisations creating such a strategy.”

Significantly there was no majority decision when asked whether respondents would consider buying from a software vendor that only supported .Net. “The jury is evenly split (around 30 per cent each) between those that would and those that wouldn’t but with the majority response being a ‘don’t know’ with 40 per cent. Further evidence of a hung jury!” says Withnall.

Overall the conclusion is simple. “The Microsoft ability to create a head to head, evenly matched battle with Sun over the use of their respective platforms is some way from being realised,” says Withnall. “ But there’s no doubt that there is a great deal of activity going on generally within the web services arena, and the opportunity is huge. Is this a betamax v VHS situation or does the market have room for the two platforms? The evidence based on this research suggests that there’s room for both, but for how long?

“Perhaps, however, for web services to be truly successful, there needs to be several platforms available. The interoperability canon is only of value, relevant and necessary if we’re not all riding the same two wheels. Different platforms will offer different advantages to different users. And the very high number of ‘don’t knows’ in this survey indicates that a large number of companies are still undecided as to which web services transport they’re likely to ride.”

For more information on Vanson Bourne’s OmniBoss service, see www.OmniBoss.com for more detail.

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