Java gains momentum in Middle East market

In the wake of Microsoft’s .Net marketing blitz of the last 12 months, Sun Microsystems and Oracle are stepping up their Java marketing efforts.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  November 25, 2002

|~||~||~|In the wake of Microsoft’s .Net marketing blitz of the last 12 months, Sun Microsystems is taking up the Java development mantle in the local market. As such, the vendor is embarking on a regional campaign to win local developers to its Java 2-based Sun Open Network Environment (ONE) platform.

“We’re targeting the local ISVs [independent software vendors], corporate developers and universities,” says Amanda Cummins, marketing manager, Sun Microsystems. “Participants will leave the roadshow with a greater insight into building secure, open and viable solutions with real applicability for this region,” she adds.

With the interest surrounding web services intensifying, Sun is looking to build on the growing Java momentum in the local market. According to Cummins, the number of local corporate developers and ISVs turning to Java is growing. “There are increasing numbers of serious Java developers in the local market, particularly in the mobile area. Also, a lot of the corporate developers using Java are becoming more sophisticated,” says Cummins.

Historically, Sun has focused primarily on its core Unix hardware platform in the Middle East and, as a result, the vast majority of software business generated by the vendor has been part and parcel of larger infrastructure projects. Consequently, much of its work to promote Java has been put on the backburner and the majority of evangelism for the cross platform programming language has been carried out by Oracle.

“The tools side of the business is a small revenue generator in our region, so it hasn’t been a huge focus for us,” explains Cummins. “Oracle has a much bigger focus on development tools in the region, but we view much of what they do as complementary, as they’re also promoting J2EE,” she adds.

Regardless of Sun’s Developer Network, the main driving force behind local Java development is Oracle. The database giant has been steadily promoting its suite of Java development tools to corporate developers and local ISVs for the last two years. However, it has found it tough going to convert local programmers from tables orientated to object orientated development.

“This is not on my radar screen at all. There isn’t much object-orientated development work going on,” comments Jyoti Lalchandani, regional director, IDC Middle East. “The Gulf region is not so active in terms of development. Clearly there are certain centres, such as Jordan and Egypt, but most them are still using programme based development,” he adds.

According to Ayman Abouseif, marketing director Middle East & Africa, Oracle, the vast majority of local developers have yet to move to the next generation of application development.

“A lot of locally developed packages don’t use the technologies available today… There will be a time when customers will demand J2EE compliancy and we have been telling [partners] that they have to get out of the old stuff,” he adds.

The slow pace of adoption can largely be attributed to an absence of local skills. However, J2EE has been around long enough for the skills to develop and the platform to mature.

“We thought that people would adopt Java faster… The current J2EE model offers the kind of maturity that you can build applications on, but it has taken a while for people to get the skills. Unfortunately, programming in Java is very different than other languages and tools because it is object orientated,” explains Abouseif.||**||

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