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June 30, 2005—Interoperability between Java and Microsoft .Net systems remains very much a work in progress, if discussions at JavaOne were any indication.
During an evening conference session entitled "On the Couch with Sun and Microsoft," officials from the two vendors went toe to toe with audience members frustrated over interoperability and with Web services in general. Sun and Microsoft signed an interoperability agreement in April 2004 that has featured cooperation in Web services standardization.
Microsoft's participation at JavaOne this year has been lauded during the conference. But Microsoft and Sun officials had to contend with disgruntled IT workers.
"No one wants to work with WSDL [Web Services Description Language]," exclaimed one audience member. Microsoft's Doug Purdy, a lead program manager involved in the company's Indigo Web services technology, then asked the attendee if he would like to see additional tests or profiles inside the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) Basic Profile for Web Services. But the response was, "I have no idea. It just doesn't work."
Regardless, Purdy said work would be done in either WS-I or the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). He pointed to XSD (XML Schema) as a problem with Web services. The profile currently says nothing about XSD except that it must be used, he said.
"Ninety-nine percent of problems people have with interoperability is XSD," Purdy said.
Purdy defined interoperability as the ability to send a message, validate the data, and then being able to process the message on the recipient side. But an audience member said there was more to it than that.
"Simply trading messages is not enough," the audience member said. A production application has to be able to track problems from the front all the way to the back, he said. "It's not enough to simply toss a message."
A Sun official concurred. "You say point-to-point integration is what you're looking for and I agree entirely," said Marina Fisher, a Sun enterprise architect. "What we want is business process orchestration. We want management across all those heterogeneous environments."
Fisher said there are solutions out there. But an audience member replied, "Those solutions only cover part of the way."
When developing projects, developers should seek homogeneity within the project itself and try to limit technology choices, said Microsoft's Dino Chiesa, product manager in the vendor's .Net developer group. "My inclination is no, don't add complexity and heterogeneity to a project."
Chisea continued: "Where the integration really makes sense is between projects." Projects delivered by different teams are where integration and concepts such as SOA (service-oriented architecture) come into play, he said.
One audience member asked if Microsoft had a .Net equivalent to Enterprise JavaBeans. Purdy said Microsoft does not provide container-managed persistence, but partners offer it. Microsoft also has the functional equivalent of many EJB functions in its enterprise services in Windows, he said.
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