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Serving up Java support

A growing crowd of software vendors will detail plans for server-side Java support at next week's JavaOne conference.

A growing crowd of software vendors will detail plans for server-side Java support at next week's JavaOne conference.

The flurry of activity is pegged to Sun Microsystems' expected announcement next week of version 1.0 of the Enterprise JavaBeans specification. Enterprise JavaBeans defines a base server layer and a set of application components for supporting business logic, including transaction processing, mail, directory services, Web access, and other crucial business services.

A long list of Enterprise JavaBeans backers, including Informix Software, Oracle, NetDynamics, Persistence Software, and IBM plan to announce server-based Java support at JavaOne.

Server-side development is becoming critical for new multitier e-commerce and business applications that combine intranet and extranet systems with commercial Internet access and links to mainframe and legacy databases. Java proponents back JavaBeans and CORBA for server-side development, while Microsoft is pushing COM as the lingua franca to be used across distributed systems.

Most of the Java excitement in the server software world is over the simplification of system development. By allowing developers to write client, middle-tier, and database server software layers in the same language, it means that the complexity of Web application development can be greatly diminished.

Large Web applications are usually constructed by multiple programmers, each specializing in a single language or technology, such as SQL, HTML, Perl, CGI, or transaction processing software. If all layers of an application understand Java, it's much easier to staff projects, analysts said.

Big companies struggling with a shortage of qualified programmers also get a bonus benefit: Since programmers fresh out of college are far more likely to be skilled in Java than in SQL or other technologies, a larger pool of qualified workers will soon be available, Steve Lambright, senior manager for server product marketing at Informix, said.

Informix plans to show off new features for allowing developers to integrate Java applications and JavaBeans components into its software, Lambright said.

By year's end Informix will extend its Dynamic Server database by enabling it to run Java applets and JavaBeans. The database will include a Java virtual machine for executing business logic, and will function as an Enterprise JavaBeans container, Lambright said. Informix is also adding Java support to its Virtual Table Interface, so that Java applications will appear as ordinary database tables to end users and to applications software.

Finally, Informix will add support for budding Java standards, such as JDBC 2.0, a Java-enabled data access specification, and for SQLJ, an extended, Java-aware dialect of Structured Query Language.

As previously reported, Informix' competitor Oracle will next week show off Java support in its database, middleware, and development tools.

Application software maker NetDynamics plans to announce support for Enterprise JavaBeans, and a new software layer it plans, called BusinessBeans. BusinessBeans is aimed at business intelligence and data analysis applications.

Persistence, along with Sun, middleware software company Iona, Oracle, and other vendors, will announce a coalition to simplify building and integrating enterprise Java applications, according to the company. Persistence sells PowerTier, a Java-based application server.

And IBM will detail its plans for integrating Enterprise JavaBeans with its San Francisco framework. The San Francisco Project is IBM's building-block approach for delivering Java-based business applications on legacy systems. The company also intends to announce additional Java-based software for its AS/400 systems and its development tool lineup.