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Cape Clear takes on murky battle between .NET and Java

Web services company Cape Clear wants to bridge the gap between Java and .NET, and one analyst believes the company is strong when it comes to binding Web services and legacy applications.

Survey any number of CIOs and integration is likely to be a major concern among most. Campbell, Calif.-based Cape Clear Software is hoping to solve that problem with their Java-based offerings.

Cape Clear CEO Annrai O'Toole said the company's niche in the marketplace lies in solving the integration problems that come with tying together applications and internal information systems largely behind the firewall.

According to O'Toole, many organizations are faced with joining a huge number of systems that were either bought or built over the last ten years.

"We like to see ourselves as the unglamorous side of Web services," said O'Toole. "Our strategy is to broaden our offerings to customers so we can go in and integrate the most amount of systems for the least amount of cost."

AT&T, NASA and Deutsche Bank are among Cape Clear's 100 customers. While recognizing the broad impact of Microsoft's .NET platform in the Web services arena, O'Toole notes that "Microsoft is limited to their platform and not everyone runs on Windows. We're trying to bring the same .NET concepts to the non-Microsoft, i.e. Java world."

Cape Clear also offers interoperability between Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) and .NET and, according to the company, virtually eliminates the need to choose one platform or the other.

According to Mike Gilpin, research fellow for Cambridge, Mass.-based Giga Information Group, 65-75% of Giga clients surveyed are already committed to using J2EE for Web services.

However, more than half will be using both Java and .NET in the next couple of years, once more .NET testing is completed and the platform is more mature. Although these platforms do not completely interoperate, Cape Clear products are geared toward bridging the two implementations.

Web services messaging

Cape Clear's offerings currently include CapeStudio, a set of tools that allows users to design, develop, integrate and deploy Web services through a single interface, and CapeConnect, a Web services integration platform on which users can host, test and manage Web services.

Last week Cape Clear announced that it has added support for Java Message Services (JMS) and MQ Series to CapeConnect, giving customers a more secure messaging alternative to HTTP.

Said O'Toole, "HTTP is not very reliable; it's a lightweight protocol, designed for human usage. If you want to transfer a billion dollars from one customer's account to another, you'll want the ability to run [data] over something that you trust, like MQ Series."

According to the company, the benefits of using JMS or MQSeries include reliability, scalability, integration and asynchronous messaging. CapeConnect also supports the transmission of Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) messages over JMS and MQ Series.

Gilpin noted that prior to the arrival of Web services, implementers of services-oriented architectures were using Message Oriented Middleware (MOM), and specifically, MQ Series. With built-in disk persistence, which guarantees that sent messages will be delivered even on unreliable networks, messaging offers more reliable transport than HTTP.

One of the interesting attributes of messaging that makes it uniquely well suited to implementing a service interface, said Gilpin, is that the interface is completely independent of implementation, which is not the case with COM, Corba and Java.

"Messaging allows you to create an integration fabric that connects everything to everything," Gilpin said.

Risk management

Gilpin warned that with a small vendor such as Cape Clear, there's always the potential that it will be aggregated or acquired by a larger company. Though he said that is not necessarily a bad thing, it is enough of a danger to warrant a good risk management strategy.

One effective strategy for eliminating risk with a small vendor is suitable layering, so that vendor-specific code resides in a distinct application layer, which could be replaced if necessary without reworking an entire architecture.


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