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Java, SOA, and China - Part I.

Posted by netoz on April 17, 2005 at 2:43 PM PDT

I had a chance to spend two weeks in China last month. Needless to say this was a very interesting trip. I spent time in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. I was there with a group teaching about our products, talking standards, visiting customers, and going over SOA related concepts and technologies such as Federated Portals.

I think SOA is especially relevant in China as companies are buying other companies, systems have be to be integrated, some of them are not web-based just yet. Also, new companies are being formed at a fast rate, or privatized from the government. To some degree there is a wave of re-tooling going on -- out with the old, in with the new. Java and Web Services are very hot in the new wave. With more open market policies in place, foreign companies are coming to China and bringing know-how and expertise that was not present there before. They are building systems, many times from scratch, to attend to a global market with the latest greatest technologies. This will help China strengthen its position in the global marketplace and take competition to a new level with the U.S.

Below, Tiananmen square and the Forbidden City, Beijing.

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Doing business in China is quite an experience. Every time I visited a company we spent the first 1/2 of the meeting socializing -- visiting the office, production systems, meeting employees, answering questions about my background, where I work, and sometimes eating lunch prior to the actual “business” that would happen in the second 1/2 of the meeting. This reminds me how business sometimes is done in Brazil - very relationship based in nature. (future theme for a blog entry).

Software projects take on a different dynamic there. Buying software is always compared to the possibility of hiring 50 to 100 to 1000 people to do the job. Therefore, the services industry is very powerful. This also has an impact on how companies promote and position their products. It is a mistake to think that American prices and American marketing strategies would work well in Asia. One should focus on getting what I call “region-based pricing” in place and also tailor any content to the local markets. Not just in China, but also in Korean, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, etc.

Companies like IBM and Microsoft have a strong presence in China. IBM more so with Lotus Notes, which can be found in just about any business of medium/large size. It is like they gave that stuff away for free? One general trend I noticed with the companies I talked to is that they want to move away from proprietary systems to open standards-based platforms. That is where Java comes in big time. For example, a very large local finance company was replacing a bunch of 1980s systems with all Java/Intel/Linux systems. They also want to embrace SOA across projects. Since they have an army of developers and can easily get more developers, the project is well in progress and should be completed later on this year. This is not the only case, but shows a good example of how Chinese enterprises are upgrading fast, or perhaps even faster than American companies.

BTW, did you hear the economy is ultra-hot in China? Well, it is... Streets of Shanghai below.

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More in the next few weeks...

Best Regards,

--alex

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