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JavaFun: Interoperability But Is Three a Crowd?

This morning, as I watched the JavaOne keynote given by Microsoft's Steven Martin and reps from both Sun and Microsoft, I couldn't help thinking about the elephant in the room.

Would Microsoft be on that stage, and a JavaOne sponsor, if it had known that Oracle was buying Sun? And with Larry Ellison lurking, ready to promote his company's proprietary platform (before Sun) and torpedo that of his long-standing nemesis, Bill Gates? All this at an open source conference? It's kind of surreal -- like Ralph Nader hosting a show on the Fox channel.

Companies change (maybe). In the last five years, Sun and Microsoft have made progress. Three years ago, representatives of both companies took the stage at JavaOne to discuss interoperability and early efforts in the Apache Stonehenge project for SOA. Microsoft's StockTrader 2.0 code -- a head-to-toe .NET rewrite of an IBM-based Java app -- contributed as a reference app to "Stonehenge" last November. It shows developers how they can interop with Web services by connecting an ASP.NET Web front end to business services and order processing services running in .NET, or the Metro Web Service (Java) stack on the Sun GlassFish Enterprise App Server. The interoperability is enabled through WS* Security and other Web Service standards. Developers basically use a different URI to point to the services and configure the security. On the back end, StockTrader 2.0 supports SQL Server (demonstrated today) or Oracle 11g. Support for MySQL is on the way, according to Microsoft. During the keynote, Sun announced that it's contributing its Metro-based StockTrader code to the Apache Stongehenge project today.

"We used to think of interoperability as a nice-to-have," said Martin, who is on Microsoft's Developer Platform Product Management team and is a visible lead of the Windows Azure cloud computing effort. "We know now it's a must-have."

Martin said that customers are going to demand high levels of interoperability across the .NET and Java stacks going forward. "While we are both collectively going to innovate...we're not going to be able to do it at the expense of interoperability."

He also proclaimed that "the world of the stack is going to look very different as we move into the world of cloud computing."

According to Martin, with the Azure Services Platform, Microsoft is working under the assumption that applications by definition are composite, support federated identity and can be accessed from non-native platforms and tools such as Eclipse, Ruby and other frameworks and languages.

"We have customers today that are using our messaging infrastructure in the cloud to connect an AS400 and a mainframe, no Microsoft technology anywhere on premises, using the messaging infrastructure in the cloud to make two non-native systems talk to each other," Martin said.

Read more about Steven Martin's keynote and Sun and Microsoft's interoperability efforts in Martin's blog here.

Microsoft polls developers twice a year in blind surveys and found that 73 percent of respondents reported working in .NET or .NET and Java.

Are you working in both environments? What's your take on Java and .NET interoperability? Is it getting any easier? Express your views below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 06/04/2009

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