Richard Monson-Haefel

Senior Analyst, Burton Group

The Rebel Platforms
36 minutes, 16.8mb, recorded 2005-07-13
Richard Monson-Haefel

For enterprise application development, the high-end "superplatforms" like J2EE and .NET aren't the only choice. Developers can choose from the "rebel platforms," defined by Burton Group as open-source platforms that don't adhere to industry standards like J2EE or .NET.

Burton Group Senior Analyst Richard Monson-Haefel describes the rebel platforms, compares then with superplatforms from Microsoft, SAP, IBM, Oracle, and BEA on criteria including flexibility, lock-in, development complexity, and cost.

Richard begins with a quick review of the superplatforms from Microsoft and SAP, as well as the Java Superplatforms he covered in depth in another session.

He then describes the rebel platforms, both LAMP derivatives and the Java platforms that replace or supplement J2EE.

LAMP stands for Linux/Unix, Apache, MySQL, and Perl/Python/PHP. Richard lists as LAMP derivatives the many Apache projects, Zope, and Zend. Despite the name, these platforms also can run on Windows servers.

He describes popular Java rebel platforms including Tomcat, Struts, Hibernate, and Spring, which can be used to replace or supplement J2EE. Other rebel Java tools include Tapestry, Castor JDO, and HiveMind.

The rebel tools are more flexible, as they can be combined more easily than vendors' proprietary tools. Unlike commercial tools, the rebels free developers from vendor lock-in. But open-source projects come with their own lock-in, as developers are "subject to the wills of their main committers." Richard says it's riskier to bet the company on these open-source projects, citing the Apache Avalon project, which, after much investment, succumbed to serious disagreements among the committers, and so no longer exists. These projects often lack centralized support, so they are suited to a more technical team with more diverse skills than platforms from big vendors.

You can mix and match the rebel tools, says Richard, but that's because they're less cohesive than commercial tools from a single vendor. To decide whether to use a rebel platform, he recommends you consider your needs: Do you need to use industry standards? Can you live with vendor lock-in? Do you need cohesive toolsets? If so, then commercial platforms are the best choice. But if your team has diverse technical skills, if your company is pragmatic and risk-tolerant, then the rebels are a good fit.

The Q&A focuses on how the rebels may force J2EE to become simpler, concerns about intellectual property issues such as licensing and indemnification, how to know whether your company needs a superplatform, and support for the rebel platforms from commercial vendors.

Richard Monson-Haefel is senior analyst with Burton Group, a research and consulting firm. He is the architect of OpenEJB, the open source EJB container system used in Apache Geronimo J2EE platform, which he co-founded. He has over eight years of Java/J2EE consulting on application development. He was named one of the 50 most influential people in J2EE by The Middleware Company and is one of the world's leading authorities on Enterprise JavaBeans. He is a frequent speaker at symposiums and conferences and the author of numerous articles in trade publications. He helped develop the specifications for EJB 2.1, EJB 3.0, and J2EE 1.4 and served on the JCP Executive Committee, which oversees all specifications for the J2SE and J2EE platforms. Monson-Haefel is the author J2EE Web Services and four best-selling editions of Enterprise JavaBeans and the coauthor of Java Message Service. His books have won the Java Developer Journal Editors' Choice Award and Readers' Choice Award, the JavaPRO Readers' Choice Award, and's "Best of 2000" and "Best of 2001" awards, as well as First Runner Up in the JavaWorld Editors' Choice Awards.


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