In-Depth

Rand Merchant Bank

We spoke by phone with Vincent Coetzee, systems architect, Rand Merchant Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa. At Rand Merchant, realtime trading systems are the order of the day. For Coetzee it was the early evening. As he spoke from his home about 50 km from Johannesburg, there was a strange background noise, but it wasn’t on the line. The warm wet season had brought out thousands of frogs that filled the trees and were croaking ...

“We started with Java almost 18 months ago. We didn’t have a lot of legacy C systems," said Coetzee. "But we had been an object-oriented shops for a substantial time. Our language of choice was Smalltalk. To be very honest we are still somewhat cynical of Java’s ability on the server side. We see it having more of an interface role, some preprocessing. We use Corba Orbs. We believe in time to come Java will become appropriate for the server. We have an object relational database that runs Smalltalk as the internal language. Right now, it is a whole lot faster and stable [than Java].

"The tools are becoming a whole lot more useful. Just 12 months ago they were [inadequate]. JBuilder [from Borland] and Java Workshop [from SunSoft] were not just usable. They are very powerful now. Workshop is for code gurus. We have been able to put [SunSoft’s] Studio product in the hands of end users."

... Finally, as croaking still continued we asked about the frogs, does one get used to them? "They go on all night. After a few weeks, it’s just background noise like everything else," said Vincent Coetzee.

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