Q

ColdFusion vs. VS.NET

ColdFusion versus Visual Studio .NET seems like an easy choice. Our entire programming group (six of us) wants to go to .NET. The corporation (about 400 programmers) has had ColdFusion as a standard and needs a push to make a change. We're a Microsoft Windows XP company. Could you weigh in on the conflict? I'm not a ColdFusion expert by any means, but from what I understand about ColdFusion, it's a platform by which you can easily develop...

Web applications and Web services with Java/J2EE. Without a platform like ColdFusion, it's difficult to develop such applications with just J2EE, not to mention the development of middle-tier applications. So basically, you are purchasing a platform not designed from the ground up with the language and platform, but as an afterthought to the J2EE architecture. And you have to license the platform. For the functionality you get out of the box with .NET, you are looking at a licensing fee of $2999 for development and $5999 to deploy on two servers. Although, with 400 programmers you may qualify for bulk licensing option with Macromedia.

If I were you, I'd focus on these key points of comparison:

  1. Entirety of solution of .NET vs ColdFusion -- .NET has everything you need for every tier. You can develop Web applications, Web services, server applications and data access layers on all tiers with one technology that's designed for powerful, rapid development, high performance and scalability from small- to large-scale enterprise applications.

  2. .NET was designed for Windows from the ground up -– It's highly optimized for Windows and Microsoft technologies such as Windows Server and SQL Server while providing a high level of interoperability with legacy software. If you are using Microsoft operating systems, you will benefit greatly with using Microsoft technologies for development and deployment.

  3. Licensing and support costs -– Separate developer licenses from deployment. If you are running Web farms and fail-over application servers, the licensing can start adding up quickly. With ColdFusion, that appears like it will be very costly, not to mention needing supporting licenses for any application server software, Web server software and database software. If you are careful how you plan your development and deployment of a Microsoft solution, you can do most of it for relatively low cost. The licensing for the .NET SDK is free as is the licensing to deploy. You only pay for the operating system, development environment (Visual Studio), database engine (SQL Server) and any special server applications you choose to use from Microsoft (such as BizTalk or Exchange, which in many cases you won't need and if you do, you won't need in bulk). If you are careful, you can plan your licensing to be extremely low-cost, especially if you only need the functionality of MSDE and you leverage the licensing opportunities that come with purchasing an MSDN Universal Subscription.
I hope that's enough weight for the conflict!
This was first published in April 2004

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