When an executive from Microsoft takes the stage at JavaOne to deliver a keynote speech, there's one thing that needs to be said right out of the gate: "We come in peace."
The message from Microsoft today was not about competing technologies but rather interoperability - the link that allows Microsoft's .NET and the Sun's Java programming languages to play nice together in business critical applications.
Interoperability wasn't really a big deal back when developers created unique business applications intended to run on a specific platform. But times have changed. No longer are workforces tied to a single system, a single device or even a single programming language. On top of that, there's an expectation by the current generation of young people that technology just works - no matter the device, the language, the platform. The business leaders of tomorrow don't want to hear about technical limitations. They just want it to work.
At JavaOne, Steven Martin, Microsoft's Senior Director of Developer Platform Product Management, came to the stage with a number that can't be ignored: 73 percent. According to a twice-a-year blind survey, 73 percent of professional developers said they rely on .NET or a combination of .NET and Java. It's a blended world we live in, Martin said. Interoperability can no longer be thought of as a "nice-to-have." Today, it's a "must-have."
Chiming in about his looming presentation on the stage at JavaOne, Martin posted on his blog:
...both Java and .NET have won in the enterprise and it is incumbent on both Microsoft and Sun to ensure that interoperability for the platforms is real, available and as easy to implement as possible. It’s a responsibility that we both share and customers tell us loud and clear that they expect innovation to accompany interoperability.
Microsoft was also happy to welcome Sun as a participant in the Apache "Stonehenge" project, which was formed to provide sample apps the demonstrated interoperability among multiple platforms. On his blog, Martin explains why this matters:
This is important for two reasons. First, it means that Stonehenge will deliver even more value by providing best practice guidelines and reference implementations across an even broader range of scenarios and platforms, including Java, .NET, PHP, etc. The more samples and real world guidance we can give the community the better since it gives customers the ability to choose the best ones for their specific business requirements. It also makes it easier to pinpoint potential interoperability problems.
Cloud computing and the rise of mobile devices are just two of the modern-day forces that are testing the limits of business application creation and deployment. The apps have to be flexible enough to work on any platform or jump from a cloud environment to on-site hardware seamlessly as the demands of the business change.
Microsoft's bigger message: the company is committed to interoperability efforts. As such, it extended an invitation to check out its online Interoperability Bridges & Labs Center to see first hand the work that's happening on this front back in Redmond.