Barring a sudden cold shoulder from IBM, a gaffe by Sun Microsystems, or some other unlikely event, Java is on track to become one of the primary programming languages of e-commerce. And it should provide a bright future for those who know their way around the Beans and Enterprise Editions.
19 June 2000 - Some holdouts remain: People who question whether Java can replace COBOL, C++ or Visual Basic as a language for mission-critical, big-time business applications. A number of industry experts insist it needs to brew a bit, but its time is coming quickly.
"Java is definitely catching on," acknowledges Ian Hayes, president of Clarity Consulting in Massachusetts. "But most of what I've seen with Java has been working with interfaces, like doing Web front ends and so forth. No one I know of would go and program a Java accounting program or something like that. ... Java will really go mainstream the second somebody can do a warehouse distribution application in Java."
Phil Harmon, editor of the Component Development Strategy newsletter, says the efforts that have gone into making the interpretive Java programs run as fast as those written in a compiling language such as C++ are bringing Java closer to suitability for large-scale enterprise uses. But he says the jury is still out on whether Java is ready for prime time.
"Java isn't done. ... The good news is Java keeps becoming more capable of building big-enterprise applications," says Harmon. "The bad news is: If you're trying to build a new application, you keep waiting for new bells and whistles to come out."
Richard Baldwin, a professor at Austin Community College who offers online Java tutorials, feels Enterprise Java Beans is the key. "In Austin ... a well-qualified Enterprise Java Beans programmer could walk down the street with an 'I work with EJB' sign around his neck and [receive offers] of $120,000 to $130,000 a year," says Baldwin.
Researcher Dale Vecchio of the GartnerGroup says Java will blossom fully before 2010. "It might be as ubiquitous as COBOL five to 10 years down the road. ... Organizations are now being driven by e-business initiatives that cannot be satisfied by simply extending COBOL," says Vecchio.
Research house GartnerGroup insists a huge market exists for Java programmers that will not be filled until about 2003 (see chart, left). Sun estimates there are about 1.5 million Java programmers roaming the planet, but GartnerGroup puts the number of skilled pros closer to 500,000.
Says Hank Shiffman of Jedi Technologies, "One thing is clear: A lot of people are looking for Java programmers. There's lots of code to be written. The demand for programmers is getting higher and higher."
Do The Math
Green Java Programmers:
Office space $7,000
Total $81, 500
Total days worked 240
Optimum billable rate 80 percent or 192 days@ 8 hours/day=1,536 hours
1,536 hours x $60/hour= $92,160
Seasoned Java Pros:
Office space $7,000
Total days worked 230
Optimum billable rate 80 percent or 184 days@ 8 hours/day=1,472 hours
1,472 hours x $100/hour= $147,200