Financial firms that want to jump into Java development have a friend in Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Inprise Corporation, a company that focuses on rapid-application-development and middleware products.
Their latest offering is the Inprise Application Server. "What we have done," says Mark H. Rudov, vice president, enterprise marketing, "is redefined the enterprise application life cycle, which assembly line enterprises have, that start with development, integration and deployment, finishing with management. That is really the key to an enterprise's success, getting those applications through as efficiently as possible. What our server does is fulfill that objective by providing all the pieces."
The bedrock of Inprise system architecture is Corba (common object request broker architecture), an apps-development language agreed on by the OMG (Object Management Group), a consortium of over 700 prominent software development firms offering products in a client/server environment. Inprise also supports Java.
Corba allows firms, using distributed object technology, to quickly construct client/server information systems, merely by assembling and extending reuseable components. The benefit to financial firms is that Inprise is based on a cross-platform, open-industry standards and doen't promote vendor lock-in.
The management piece of the Inprise Application Server also includes seamless integration with Jbuilder, one of their main products, which is a hugely popular development tool. With this offering, says Rudov, Inprise is competing on three important fronts: on platform neutrality, through its Java component, on enterprise scalability, and on life-cycle productivity, by cutting a swathe from development through to management as quickly as possible.
Jeffry Borror, director of information technology at Daiwa Securities America, has been using Inprise's Jbuilder component steadily since it first appeared in beta in the spring of 1997. "Financial firms have a lot of different platforms we have to support - people want results quickly, they want a high-productivity environment," says Borror. "If you can do this within a single development environment that runs on different platforms, you're ahead of the game."
He points out that other languages sped up development, but weren't necessarily the best choice in every instance. "C++ was a godsend, but even C++ wasn't purely portable. And anyone who has been programming in C++ for some time can easily pick up Java." So, too, Borror points out, the database management function in Java is built into the language instead of bolted on, as it is in the C++ language. The selection of JBuilder, and the Java advantage that they represent, "is also about different groups being able to use different versions. When working on team projects, they need a common denominator - you used to have to settle for the least common denominator. With Java, you are agreeing on a greater common denominator."
Inprise competes with BEA Systems (Web Logic), Sun Microsystems (Net Dynamics), IBM (WebSphere), Oracle (OAS), as well as products from Iona, Symantec and Microsoft.
Pricing of the development kit starts at $3,500; the deployment licenses cost roughly $10,000. A typical configuration will cost around $250,000.
For more information, see the firm's Web site at www.inprise.com