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Open source application server and integration tools central to Sun's SOA strategy

At the JavaOne conference, Sun Microsystems unveiled new open source initiatives designed to keep itself and Java relevant in the emerging service-oriented architecture space.

SAN FRANCISCO -- At its JavaOne conference today, Sun Microsystems Inc. unveiled new open source initiatives designed to keep itself and Java relevant in the emerging service-oriented architecture era.

Amidst a 10th birthday for Java featuring a ragtime band and a ukelele-wielding mascot, Sun threw its weight behind open software development by releasing code for the popular Java System Application Server Platform Edition 9.0 and Java System Enterprise Server Bus, which is based on the Java Business Integration (JBI) specification (JSR 208), plus new SOA tools.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy stressed that Sun doesn't make money by selling Java as a language, but rather by coming up with commercial uses for Java. In the SOA space he made no bones about Java and Microsoft's .NET platform being in a foot race.

If we don't go out and make these open source communities we stand a chance of losing customers to .NET.
Scott McNealy
CEOSun MicroSystems

"If we don't go out and make these open source communities, we stand a chance of losing customers to .NET," McNealy said during a late morning press conference.

Sun president Jonathan Schwartz agreed that the new open source drive was critical to keeping Java relevant in a shifting IT landscape. Yet, based on 10 years of experience with Java, he expressed confidence that Sun's open source play in the enterprise-class application server and integration markets would net real gains.

"Java's been the most open and vibrant community the IT industry has ever seen," he said during his morning keynote. "There is no downside to free and open source software."

Last week many speculated that Sun's new open source initiatives weren't going to be truly open or have a meaningful affect on the market. McNealy took issue with both stances.

"I've heard some say 'Yeah, you've donated a lot of code, but you need to do more.' That's like saying Wayne Gretzky scored a lot of goals," McNealy said. "There's no one close to having donated as much open code as we have."

On the application server side, he said, "Who knows where open-sourcing the application server will take us in 10 years," adding that having an easy, pluggable and detachable software infrastructure should be a boon in an industry where "all technology has the shelf-life of a banana."

The Enterprise Service Bus announcement was accompanied by a list of 19 other vendors that will be putting out related platforms and tools over the next year, including Sonic Software Corp., Iona Technologies PLC and Tibco Software Inc.

"We think this will do for integration what J2EE did for application development," said Sun executive vice president for software John Loiacono about the newly approved Java standard, which today became publicly available for review and download.

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Check out SearchWebServices' JavaOne 2005 full show coverage

Learn more about Sun's SOA Path

On the horizon is the Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5.0 development suite. Many of its specifications are available for review at The final draft stage should take place in third quarter of this year, followed by a beta release in the fourth quarter and a first quarter 2006 official release.

Sun distinguished engineer Bill Shannon previewed new core application program interfaces (APIs) for Web services and XML data, along with Java specifications for Web services metadata handling (JSR-181) and a simplified method of writing applications that run XML (JSR-173).

Java EE 5.0 will also feature a simplified coding procedure for the creation of Web services. Demonstrating the new procedure, Shannon said, "This is just a plain, old Java object. To make it a Web service you just put in an annotation that it's a Web service and you're done."

Schwartz said he expects plenty of competition in the Web services arena between open source and proprietary toolsets.

"We don't think there's going to be one set of tools for the SOA world," he said.

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