(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Corporate Users Put Java Business Systems into Full Operation
February 22, 1999 (TOKYO) -- Many Japanese enterprises have recently
started full operation of large-scale business systems developed using
|The new systems are for practical business purposes,
and are not simply prototypes (See table.).
Java has been diffusing at a steady pace since the fall of 1997, when
Java development tools became available in the Japanese language. This
year will likely see many more companies adopting Java.
Companies that utilize Java expect the following merits: (1) implementation
of a cross-platform architecture, (2) reduction of operational loads
by automatic distribution of programs, and (3) improvement of development
productivity and maintainability.
Nikkei Computer has conducted extensive market research on the state
of Java in Japan, and it has learned that the largest systems generally
provide the most merits when Java is used.
Focus on Inheritance of Program Assets
The Java cross-platform architecture provides two main advantages.
First, by using Java there is no need to create programs tailored to
each type of platform (even when no environmental unification is achieved
on the client side). A program can work in the same way on various platforms,
including those of Windows PCs, Macintosh computers and UNIX workstations.
Second, there is no need to modify programs when upgrading client or
server machines to newer versions.
In the past, the first merit attracted greater attention. However, domestic
users that have selected Java recently have started to attach greater
importance to the second merit.
"Client systems could possibly be replaced with some other platforms
from Windows 95 PCs, although most client machines are now based on
Windows 95. We don't want to modify systems every time a platform changes,
and that's why we have adopted Java," said Kiyoshi Hara, director of
Nihon Unisys Ltd.'s technologies research & development group (in the
Information Technologies & Services Division).
Most corporate users have views similar to those of Hara, because many
have gone through bitter experiences, trying to cope with numerous operating
system upgrades, among other changes.
"Our group built an insurance payment system based on Windows NT3.51
two years ago, but we were forced to remake the system following the
operating system update to Windows NT4.0, which required significant
time and money. We hope that Java will spare us such a problem in the
future," said Yuusaku Sinoe, manager of the system group at Saison Automobile
and Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.
Fuji Bank Ltd. has adopted Java and hopes to enjoy such merits. The bank
is applying Java to terminals of an automatic account-opening system
installed at its unmanned branches. Currently, the terminals are based
on Windows NT4.0 PCs. However, the bank has hinted of a possibility
to adopt various types of platforms.
Automatic Distribution of Programs
Alleviating operational loads through automatic distribution of programs
is the second main objective among Java users.
NEC Software Ltd. developed a Java-based internal fare settlement system
for travel expenses. The system is used by more than 3,000 people.
"Because we wanted to avoid installing programs for each platform, a
decision was made to use Java. Visual Basic is a good choice for systems
operated independently in each division, but systems used by the entire
company can only be built with Java," said Takejiro Miyashita, an information
system manager at NEC Software.
Saison Automobile and Fire Insurance, Fuji Bank and Misawa Homes Co.,
Ltd. selected Java to "improve their development productivity and maintainability."
Java allows for conversion of programs into components with greater ease
than other programming languages, while it also realizes high development
productivity, maintainability and reusability of programs.
Mobile Agents and VRLM
H.I.S. Co., Ltd. and Asics Corp. said that they have adopted Java for
technologies exclusive to Java.
H.I.S., a travel agency, has applied the mobile agent technology to a
travel information search system using the Internet. It adopted a processing
scheme in which a program (customer agent) for finding information is
prepared as a class of Java and then moved to another server for execution.
Paris Miki Inc., a dealer of optical products, also has been developing
a mobile agent-applied system based on Java.
Asics Corp., a sportswear maker, built up a system that could only be
implemented by Java technology. The virtual reality modeling language
(VRML) data format was adopted for three-dimensional graphical display.
VRML data was due to be displayed with a software product called CosmoPlayer
from Silicon Graphics Inc., which is controlled by an application programming
interface (API) designed solely for Java.
Various Restrictions Remain
Java has met the high expectations of most corporate users, yet some
Various restrictions do exist. For example, Java doesn't provide perfect
cross-platform architecture (depending on the applied system environment).
More information about such restrictions is found in the Feb. 15 edition
of Nikkei Computer (in Japanese).
Table: Examples of Corporate Users Running Business
Systems Developed with Java
Whole Company Systems
Fare adjustment for travel & transportation
Bulletin board system
Management of employee work records
Management of employee service records
Business Branch Systems
Saison Automobile and Fire Insurance
Sales support for automobile insurance
Account-opening system through automatic terminals
Reference for client/inventory information
Creation of proposal document
Services on the Internet
Simulation of uniform design
Order receiving and placing for office facilities
Travel information search
Dream Train Internet
Systems such as mail, chat, etc. on the Internet
(return to news)
(Masahiro Nakamura, Associate Editor, Nikkei
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