.NET vs. J2EE: The New Infrastructure Battle Is On
As insurance companies continue business as usual with their tried-and-true revenue generators (or legacy systems as new technology vendors like to refer to them), the insurers also know that in the not too distant future, these aging systems that have served them well will reach their end of life.
Every possible means and method has been used to squeeze a bit more life from these systems–from extensions to Web front-ends. But despite the valiant efforts of the IT group, these old warhorses have just about reached their limits.
Todays business requirements for straight through processing, speed-to-market and the ability to fully leverage the Internet for anywhere, anytime computing have presented a hurdle that these trusty revenue generators just cant overcome.
Many insurers have prolonged the inevitable need to adopt a new infrastructure due to the associated pain and cost. However, the time has come to make a choice–not a choice of new or old technology, but a choice of which new technology: .NET or J2EE.
Not long ago J2EE and .NET were given the moniker of emerging technologies, but they have quickly been adopted into the mainstream with a battle under way to determine whether IBM or Microsoft will claim market dominance. But while the battle for leadership ensues, an insurance company cant afford to stand on the sidelines and wait to see who wins.
The fact is that technical folks at every insurance company have either already picked their J2EE or .NET dance partner or are aggressively evaluating which is the best path for their organizations. Software and systems infrastructure vendors have, for the most part, already committed themselves to J2EE or .NET, with vendors like BEA, Oracle and IBM seemingly opting for the J2EE camp.
While these and other vendors will continue fierce competition for a piece of the J2EE pie, the real industry battle between .NET and J2EE has become synonymous with Microsoft and IBM.
While the tech folks continue to evaluate the technical merits and drawbacks of each approach, it might also be beneficial to take a practical view of the business implications of one alternative over the other.
Just as the proliferation of the Internet introduced an abundance of technology terms (typically with ambiguous and plentiful definitions) so have the .NET and J2EE models brought to the forefront a whole new language, only serving to further confuse the business layman.
J2EE is the acronym for Sun Microsystems Java 2 Platform-Enterprise Edition. With J2EE, Sun has established the standards for large, multi-tier server applications written in the Java programming language. In business terms, it is a roadmap or a “how to” to build distributed software applications using Java.
.NET is a set of Microsofts software technologies for connecting software applications via the Internet. In simplistic terms, .NET is a suite of software products and models to build software programs on a common platform.
What J2EE and .NET both provide, which is not found with the older technology infrastructure, is “inter-operability.” This is the ability for applications from multiple vendors distributed across multiple systems and locations to easily communicate and share data.
The interoperability characteristic is required in order to effectively:
utilize the Web as an information exchange and access medium externally between customers, agents, brokers (and internally with field offices and remote employees);
implement straight through processing in support of streamlined core insurance processes;