SHK Financial Group will invest $20 million to move off its mainframe computers and on to a Java-based solution to handle trading. This represents the first phase of a programme to rewrite applications, and SHK will accomplish this in collaboration with Sun Microsystems, inventor of the Java programming language. Sun will provide experts to help with the implementation, to be completed in three phases over 24 months. The first phase should take about six months and will move most of the mainframe applications over to the Java 2 Enterprise Edition platform. Daniel Yu, Greater China president at Sun, said: 'This is a landmark development that reveals the growing impact Java technology is [having on] banking, finance and other key industries in Hong Kong and the Greater China region.' SHK chairman Arthur Dew said the $20 million was a first investment and, as the project progressed, the group would look at spending more. The group had looked at many other solutions, but chose Java and Sun for its flexibility. 'This whole thing was two years in the making. We looked at a lot of solutions before we made our decision,' Mr Dew said. In the 1970s, SHK moved from a paper-based office to a mainframe - an enormous undertaking. Although the present move to Java might not be quite as daunting, it was the second-largest technology change the company had undertaken, Mr Dew said. 'The mainframe has served us very well and is still a great technology. It is solid and secure. We have nothing against it. It is difficult, however, to make easy changes and that is why we wanted this new solution,' Mr Dew said. He also noted that the Cobol programmers required to work on the mainframe were becoming scarce and therefore expensive. This was another factor behind the move to Java.