Symantec Provides Framework for EJB
Symantec Corp. (www.symantec.com) will be integrating two new technologies that leverage Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) standard into its VisualCafe Enterprise Suite, according to Kent Mitchell, senior product manager for VisualCafe.
The first part of the strategy is the EJB Universal Framework, which will provide a comprehensive, efficient approach to building and deploying applications based on EJB technology. Second, Symantec will provide extensions to that framework that provide deep integration into third-party application servers. Mitchell says the first one will be WebLogic from BEA System Inc. (www.beasys.com). Support for HomeBase from Iona Technologies (www.iona.com) is expected in mid-July.
Next the company will support Sun's NetDynamics and IBM Corp.'s WebSphere. They will continue to support other servers in the industry that use Enterprise JavaBeans.
Mitchell says the EJB Universal Framework comes in three parts. First is a set of wizards and tools that generates an applet and an XML-based employment descripter. The descripter ensures generic support for deployment. Next, Symantec provides the user with hooks, controls and Java macros for deployment. Finally, once the app is deployed, Symantec provides a "Single-View" technology to allow developers to work with distributed components and debug simultaneously across multiple mixed platforms from one console.
Mitchell says one problem in the enterprise is that you have programmers that you don't want to teach how to use each app server. "Now you'll be able to debug over different app servers in the same environment," Mitchell says.
There seems to be a trend in the industry to standardize each vendor's Java platform since some analysts a few months ago tagged it the next Unix: an open platform that large, greedy vendors will proprietize. Earlier this week, Sun and some of its partners announced a testing standard for Java certification. Symantec's offering looks to standardize EJB application development and deployment. "For Java programmers to come together and support one standard, it removes some of the FUD in the industry," Mitchell expounds. "It shows the Java market is maturing."
"From a development perspective, this should make things a lot easier," says Sally Cusack, an analyst with International Data Corp. (IDC, www.idc.com). She explains that developers have been standoffish with EJB because there was no definitive instruction set. "Java itself has only been around for four years, and EJB has just started to gain momentum. A lot of neat things are happening, and Sun seems to be tightening its schedule on the specs," Cusack explains.
She says, however, the adage that Java runs only where it's tested has some merit, and that the expectations of some analysts that Java could go the way of Unix may not be entirely off base. This EJB push from Symantec, however, could be the hope for server side development that will make life easier for corporate developers. "The [EJB] spec has been slower to evolve than the industry had hoped. The vendors have had to fill in the blanks with their own capabilities."