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Java is pushing the envelope of future business opportunities by helping software developers and vendors go where they have not gone before - opening new frontiers and creating new markets.

The latest numbers estimate that there are now over 400,000 serious Java developers, up from just 200,000 six months ago. Good evidence of this is the fact that the JDK has been downloaded over 450,000 times since it was released just two months ago. People who download the JDK are serious about developing in Java because it presents a great opportunity for building a scalable foundation to take computing into the networked age.

A grass roots campaign for Java is building. There are over 160 universities that now teach Java programming, many as their introductory programming course. There are over 150 books in print on the Java language, another 150 in the works and over 200 foreign language books. Over 60 percent of 5,000+ employee businesses are doing development in Java according to Forrester Research. Of these enterprises, 40 percent will adopt Java as strategic over the next year.

The excitement around Java stems from the fact that developers need no longer write to a specific platform and, as a result, markets are multiplying. As applications need not be pigeonholed for a specific hardware, developers and businesses can market their applications to the mainstream. This is obviously good news for business, but it's also good news for developers, who can take their expertise to all platforms, expanding markets and creating new opportunities.

For Java developers, knowledge is cumulative and transferable because Java is more than just a computer programming language. Java is a highly-scalable platform to create applications that can "Write Once, Run Anywhere." As a function of this scalability, Java delivers a return on investment for developers who can build applications for one device and reuse them on other devices. Consider this example:

A freight company needs to implement an order entry and tracking application - a mission-critical tool for the business. Imagine this freight delivery firm had the ability to make the application available to customers, who could use their IS system to place orders and track the shipments. The firm now has direct access to customers, and customers to the firm. The firm now can have immediate access to information used to track demand and make adjustments to business plans to respond to demand.

Consider another scenario. Imagine an automobile manufacturer deploying Java applications to dealerships to configure orders, to get quotes on orders, to place orders. The automobile manufacturer also gains immediate access to demand data and the ability to make instant supply adjustments to meet demand.

These scenarios are not fictional. They are the beginnings of true supply-chain integration, the ability for enterprises to integrate their IS systems and their processes. CSX is using a Java application to help customers track orders; Chrysler is deploying a Java application to process orders.

Business productivity gains will continue to grow as Java continues to spread to the mainstream.

Java also translates to productivity gains for developers. Java developers build on their knowledge base, they leverage their expertise by being able to run their applications on multiple platforms and they're able to move to new platforms with previously unimaginable ease.. Java developers have an entire spectrum of platforms to which they can apply their expertise. This spectrum continues to spread to larger and larger applications as well as smaller and smaller ones.

The smart card, which implements the first open standard for smart cards based on Java, is the ultimate thin client. It lets software developers create applications which will run on credit card-size cards with an embedded chip. Gemplus, Schlumberger and Bull - who control over 80 percent of the smart card market - have all licensed Java.

Java goes with equal ease to large-scale enterprise applications. It streamlines software distribution and phases out the traditional paradigm of physically installing and configuring software on every desktop unit. This is what makes the Java applications currently in use at CSX and Chrysler possible. To dynamically download code so that software goes to the end-user across the network on demand is where the cost of ownership savings in a network computing paradigm is realized. Software upgrades are also automatic, so this savings is realized with each iteration of the software.

Java is creating new opportunities within an existing framework for developers and businesses. It is pushing the boundaries of existing platforms, driving Java development into new frontiers. As new platforms emerge, the boundaries are pushed out further still. This points to a future where opportunities are limitless. It is indeed an exciting time to be a Java developer.


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