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What Development "Silo" is Best and What Should YOU Use?

8/10/2016 11:30 AM

Let's talk about what the industry is calling "silos." I really don't like that term, but it wraps up the offerings from a vendor in terms of development tools. We could talk about Drupal and Joomla and Access and Cold Fusion and any other WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) Junior Developer train wrecks, but what we are going to focus on are real, enterprise development environments. The first tenet we espouse is going to be having ONE tool for each development purpose. That means one development environment for procedural code and one for set based code. This gives us the ability to have one team for each task, instead of several teams all doing the same things.

At the set based or database level, we really only have two choices: Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. Oracle does have a free development environment, but most developers use TOAD. Traditionally Oracle has been the de facto database server for business with something approaching 75% penetration. More recently, businesses have been using Microsoft's SQL Server more than Oracle, however. Since we are talking about business we are going to limit the discussion to closed source database engines, where support is just a phone call away. Oracle has the advantage of running on Unix/Solaris. SQL Server only runs on Windows, but side by side comparisons show it being faster on Windows. Installing SQL Server is a breeze. Accept the defaults and in ten minutes you have an enterprise database engine. With Oracle, you have a complicated (at best) installation and then you have to configure (what seems like) dozens of text files laying around everywhere to even get it to start. Many developers consider Oracle difficult to use as well with many limitations (you can't DO that) and some would even say a broken security model. So for speed, ease of installation, ease of use, a FAR less expensive product and an integrated development environment the only logical decision is to use SQL Server. ...unless your existing database works and is in Oracle.

At the procedural level, developers are limited to Java or Microsoft's .NET. I've watched the java guys come up with framework after framework for years in an effort to make development easier and faster. There is Spring, Strtus, JBoss, Play, Grails, Eclipse and literally hundreds of others to pick and choose from. This bewildering array makes us wonder if there is something basically wrong with Java that we have to have so much help to use it. There isn't anything wrong with Java of course, but we still wonder. The good part is that Java is free. Microsoft's .NET on the other hand is decidedly NOT free. I'm sure you could download a compiler and write your .NET code in Notepad++ for free if you wanted to, and that is the way a LOT of Java guys do it, but if you want the real Microsoft experience complete with intellisense reading your mind and completing your programmatic thoughts for you, Visual Studio is the choice. The cost of Visual Studio is somewhere between free (for students) and close to a couple grand for the enterprise version, whatever they are calling that this year. Visual Studio also comes with a bewildering array of frameworks, but they are all integrated into the environment. You select the framework you want to develop in when you start a new project and you can get your add-ins from their web service NuGet. NuGet will install automatically all the Microsoft approved extensions and programmatic shortcuts you will ever need and do it in a way that is seamless and managed by the really bright people at Microsoft so you always know you are getting the best, tested plug-ins in addition to having one stop shopping. I would say that Java is free and worth every penny. I would further state that any serious developer working on enterprise software, and that is the only kind, would choose Microsoft, .NET and Visual Studio.

What is left? Ah, yes, server software. So the Oracle/Java guys are relegated to using Apache and PHP. PHP is the code; Apache is the server that runs the code to serve up web applications. Apache is open source, like everything else in this "silo." If it doesn't do something you need done, you can modify it. Wait. That can't be right. You modify the server??? Yup. You write Java Servelets to make your Apache installation work. Um. ok. So what does Microsoft have? They vend Internet Information Server (IIS) IIS, like every other Microsoft product has a dedicated team you can call and get answers to your questions. It has a management console. It's easy. It's effective. Once More, advantage Microsoft.

We've brought up cost a couple of times above so let's look at a simple example. For our purposes, we e going to configure two fully provisioned servers from I went to first, but they don't do windows servers. At Arvixe, the basic Linux server is $108/month. The basic Windows server is $108/month. Yes, Virginia, they are exactly the same. Further, the Windows server comes with an installation of SQL Server Express, suitable for a small to medium sized business. The Linux Server does NOT come with, nor can you get Oracle. You have the option of MySQL or PostGre SQL databases, neither of which are enterprise nor comparable to either Oracle or SQL Server. What is the conclusion? It isn't any cheaper to go with the "open source" development environments and as explained above, it has considerably more complication and therefore is more risky.

What is the bottom line? Open source is free. Open source is worth every penny. There is really only one "silo" (I hate that term if you can't tell) at all and that is Microsoft. We here at Sentia actually sat down in 1998 and did this analysis when we started and decided consciously to go with Microsoft. I'm willing to bet that from Mom and Pop to Bank of America, that particular analysis never got done. Either somebody was drawing on a cocktail napkin and happened to run into a developer who had a proclivity for one or the other, or that thought that open source is synonymous with free. Open source is not free. Ask Red Hat or MySQL how they make their money. Here is a clue: they have a support team that you pay for. Here is the problem with that: the support team can't modify the open source code and have no real impetus to answer your question, particularly in the case of "you can't DO that."

We do the research, we do the thinking, and we do the deep dive so that you don't have to. There is a reason we do things the way we do them and that reason is that it’s the best. This is why you can call us and have us literally create a business for you from scratch with you supplying nothing more than an idea and a little cash. We've done that. Not just once and not just twice, but multiple times. The businesses we make from scratch don't generally need people to run either. We automate processes. Go to our sister site Sentia Health and look at what we've done to the insurance industry.

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