The development market here

May 9th, 2003 Comments Off on The development market here

In the last few days I have heard and probed a lot about the stance of the big companies here in Belo Horizonte (my city) about the decisions concerning what enterprise computing platform they will likely choose, whether .NET, from Microsoft; or Java, from Sun. Oddly enough, most companies seem to be still undecided about the direction they will follow, and many seem to be thinking about adopting both platforms in hope of achieving maximum integration in future products.

One of the biggest buyers of outsourced applications in Belo Horizonte, which shall remain unnamed, is going through a big internal struggle over this very decision. From what I’ve heard, the company is one those leaning towards a mixed approach, supporting both platforms, but with an emphasis over Microsoft’s .NET to leverage existing investment. This company is one of the opinion formers here, and any decision they take will certainly influence many others.

Considering that our government is favoring Java, and has so far decided to use it, the panorama gets even more complex. Linux is gaining some market share, mainly due to providers offering cheaper hosting packages based on the platform, and many companies are starting to realize its potential. The existence of reliable — and free — Web, application, and database servers for it, coupled with the general availability of programming languages and libraries makes Linux an attractive choice to companies interesting in cutting costs in the production of new applications both for internal or external use, whether those applications are outsourced or not.

Those facts mean development companies are living a delicate moment. Many of them are putting off the choice of a platform until the market speaks. Unfortunately, given the way the market looks, it may be that some companies will take the decision too late, and will suffer for it. Moreover, regardless of the platform that becomes being the more widely used, it looks like the other will have sufficient market share to mean it will be impossible to ignore it. This time, putting all eggs in just one basket may effectively be the end of some companies.

Interestingly enough, this is a situation most development companies didn’t expect to see. Belo Horizonte has always been an ASP stronghold and many companies still look forward to leveraging their knowledge of Microsoft’s tools under .NET. However, the adoption of the new platform seems to have been slower than Microsoft itself anticipated. It’s rumored that Microsoft’s representatives are firmly pressuring their clients to start migrating applications to new platform. Considering Microsoft’s abilities in the market, it’s certainly a force to be reckoned with.

I don’t worry about what the market will decide. For the first time Microsoft has a tolerable development platform. After being forced to work with Visual Basic so many times, I think I could endure anything thrown at me; however, compared to Visual Basic, C# is a marvelous language. If Java becomes a market demand, even better — everything that can help my career is nice. Anyway, I think I should start improving my skills in both platforms. The market seems to be about to become very, very interestingÂ…

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