To secure the rise of the platform-independent Java programming language and stem the encroachment of Microsoft into their markets, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Oracle and Netscape Communications have banded together to promote system interoperability and create solutions that address Windows/NT foibles.

Where individually these firms have recently failed to deter institutions from adopting NT, together they can address a tremendous problem banks face: systems integration, made that much harder by the number of bank mergers and acquisitions this year. But through the advancement of open standards and cross-platform applications, banks can integrate disparate systems they have and those they inherit, sources say.

As for cost of ownership savings lauded by pundits of the network computing paradigm, recent strides in NT administration have negated the cost argument against Microsoft, according to study findings by Gartner Group's Bill Kirwin, vp of technology management.

The bottom line: This alliance has fostered significant strides in network computing and NT. But if it is to remain viable, the alliance has to convince independent software vendors to develop in Java, says Evan Quinn, IDC's director of Java Internet software research. If the best applications are written for NT, that's where banks' new technology spending will go. J.Bers

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