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0.1. What Is Enterprise JavaBeans?

When Java™ was first introduced, most of the IT industry focused on its graphical user interface characteristics and the competitive advantage it offered in terms of distribution and platform independence. Today, the focus has broadened considerably: Java has been recognized as an excellent platform for creating enterprise solutions, specifically for developing distributed server-side applications. This shift has much to do with Java's emerging role as a universal language for producing implementation-independent abstractions for common enterprise technologies. The JDBC™ API is the first and most familiar example. JDBC provides a vendor-independent Java interface for accessing SQL relational databases. This abstraction has been so successful that it's difficult to find a relational database vendor that doesn't support JDBC. Java abstractions for enterprise technologies have expanded considerably to include JNDI (Java Naming and Directory Interface™) for abstracting directory services, JMX (Java Management Extensions) for abstracting access to computer devices on a network, JMS™ (Java Messaging Service) for abstracting access to different message-oriented middleware products, and so on.

Enterprise JavaBeans™ is the latest technology abstraction in the Java family, and perhaps the most ambitious. Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) provides an abstraction for component transaction monitors (CTMs). Component transaction monitors represent the convergence of two technologies: traditional transaction processing monitors, such as CICS, TUXEDO, and Encina, and distributed object services, such as CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture), DCOM, and native Java RMI. Combining the best of both technologies, component transaction monitors provide a robust, component-based environment that simplifies distributed development while automatically managing the most complex aspects of enterprise computing, such as object brokering, transaction management, security, persistence, and concurrency.

Enterprise JavaBeans defines a server-side component model that allows business objects to be developed and moved from one brand of CTM to another. A component (a bean) presents a simple programming model that allows the developer to focus on its business purpose. An EJB server (a CTM that conforms to the Enterprise JavaBeans specification) is responsible for making the component a distributed object and for managing services such as transactions, persistence, concurrency, and security. In addition to defining the bean's business logic, the developer defines the bean's runtime attributes in a way that is similar to choosing the display properties of visual widgets. The transactional, persistence, and security behaviors of a component can be defined by choosing from a list of properties. The end result is that Enterprise JavaBeans makes developing distributed component systems that are managed in a robust transactional environment much easier. For developers and corporate IT shops that have struggled with the complexities of delivering mission-critical, high-performance distributed systems using CORBA, DCOM, or Java RMI, Enterprise JavaBeans provides a far simpler and more productive platform on which to base development efforts.

Enterprise JavaBeans has quickly become a de facto industry standard. Many vendors announced their support even before the specification was finalized. CTM products that conform to the EJB standard have come from every sector of the IT industry, including the TP monitor, CORBA ORB, application server, relational database, object database, and web server industries. Some of these products are based on proprietary models that have been adapted to EJB; many more wouldn't even exist without EJB.

In short, Enterprise JavaBeans provides a standard distributed component model that greatly simplifies the development process and allows beans that are developed and deployed on one vendor's EJB server to be easily deployed on a different vendor's EJB server. This book will provide you with the foundation you need to develop vendor-independent EJB solutions.

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