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Have you heard the words 'build virtual teams, extend the corporation, manage the supply chain'? Are you convinced that e-business, enterprise applications deployed over the Web, Internet plus intranet plus extranet are the way to go? Chances are you've thought about this and your answer is yes. But what does that mean to you, right now, as we're one Web year into 1998?

As you and your development team move from pilot projects to implementation of enterprise-wide systems across the Internet, intranet and extranet, you'll need to consider and balance several critical elements. The right combination of component architecture, client/server tools, Internet practices and existing legacy systems is crucial. In terms of decisions to be made this year, I would like to address choosing the right component model as one of the most important issues you'll contend with. According to a recent report by Forrester Research, Inc., of companies interviewed, 44 percent have no object strategy now, but by the year 2000 only 4 percent foresee having no object strategy in place.

Components, by definition, are self-contained program modules that can interact with each other. The software community is creating components to speed application development and to build up a platform-independent base of reusable code. By incorporating a well-conceived component model, you can anticipate, drive and respond to changing market conditions, optimize reuse and create custom applications more quickly.

Since you're holding this magazine in your hands, you've already decided that Java is an important element of the e-business equation, whether you're beginning to experiment with Java or are an advanced Java programmer. In Java, almost everything is an object or component. The JavaBeans spec was written by JavaSoft in conjunction with numerous industry leaders, including IBM. JavaBeans is fast emerging as the portable, platform-neutral component model written in Java.

The JavaBeans component architecture is the ideal choice for developing network-aware applications that allow you to move within the enterprise or across the Internet. Unlike days past, you can't assume central control over deployment. If you anticipate deploying systems over a heterogeneous environment, you'll want new systems to connect and integrate with any other hardware or software that might be encountered on the Internet, intranet or extranet. The JavaBeans component model places no restrictions on where applications can be deployed. And not coincidentally, JavaBeans connect into any other component model via bridges, including COM/DCOM. The opposite is not the case. The full COM environment - particularly Microsoft Transaction Server - will be available only on NT. Java and the JavaBeans architecture is the only model to consider with these goals in mind.

In 1997, we saw a lot of people building interesting client-side applications, just as before that we saw a plethora of spinning Java applets on the Web. The e-business equation rests on the belief that Java is not just a client-side model. Significant server-side Java initiatives are well under way, including IBM's massive San Francisco project. San Francisco has put over 300,000 lines of code in the hands of developers for creating run-your-business server applications. Over 250 companies have licensed the code so far, and the first of these applications will begin hitting the market later this year.

This server-side emphasis extends to the component model as well. The Enterprise Java- Beans spec is a component architecture for reusable server-side components to build business applications. IBM was a major contributor to this specification as well. Very soon we will begin to see support for scalable transactional application server components.

Other people in your organization who manage the desktops may be inclined to choose Microsoft's COM/DCOM model for your business. While COM/DCOM delivers decided benefits to the client, the real business benefit from component-based client/server lies in the business logic and applications that reside on the server. With leading visual development tools, Java's security model and built-in scalability, Enterprise JavaBeans is clearly the superior model.

Become the JavaBeans 'component proponent' within your company. You're going to be called on to make the quick changes and connections to the applications that run your e-business, so don't let the decision be made without you. Which component platform your organization adopts now will determine how and where you'll expand your business in the years ahead.

About the Author
As Program Director, alphaWorks & Java Marketing in IBM's Software Solutions, David Gee's role includes developing the company's Java marketing strategy, forging strategic business alliances and maintaining partner relationships with key industry influencers. You can learn more about IBM's Java initiatives at www.ibm.com/java and explore IBM's online research laboratory at www.alphaWorks.ibm.com


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