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Sun SOA roadmap focuses on B2B

What is business-to-business other than architecture-to-architecture as business partners develop Web services connections in the SOA world, suggests a Sun Microsystems vice president while unveiling the latest milestone on the SeeBeyond integration roadmap.

Sun Microsystems Inc. latest step on the roadmap for integrating its year-and-a-half-old acquisition of SeeBeyond's EAI technology into its software family is today's announcement of an SOA offering called the Sun Identity-Enabled Business-to-Business Solution. As the name implies this product is aimed at centralized security for transactions among trading partners.

We are busy looking at how we can best integrate registry with this entire suite.
Jim McHugh
Vice President of Software InfrastructureSun Microsystems

It is the next step in the Sun Java Composite Application Platform Suite (JavaCAPS) product originally launched last March, which included a B2B suite, an ESB suite, an application platform suite and a Web infrastructure suite. That was the first step on the SeeBeyond integration roadmap, and today's announcement is another step but is far from the end of the road, said Jim McHugh, vice president of software infrastructure at Sun.

"Sun in the last year and a half has set about taking the former SeeBeyond application that was doing B2B to the next level," he said. "We are a year and a half into a two-year roadmap. We will see changes for the next three years, but right now what we have is a B2B software gateway that is enterprise class, can scale to millions of transaction per week or even per day if you put the proper hardware behind it."

However, the Sun announcement, which proclaims this as an "SOA offering," is still basically SeeBeyond's B2B product with little if any service-orientation, said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC.

"Note that other than 'enabling enterprises to realize the benefits of a SOA infrastructure framework,' there's really nothing service-oriented about this announcement," Bloomberg said. "It's squarely centered on traditional B2B integration."

The analyst did credit Sun with a strong identity management product, which now is integrated with the mature SeeBeyond-developed technology.

"Sun's identity management capabilities have always been the strongest part of their software offering, and the JavaCAPS, nee SeeBeyond suite, is now a mature product, but nobody should think that these products are particularly suited to the loosely-coupled, interoperability-centric world of SOA," Bloomberg said.

However, Sun's McHugh suggested that B2B is just another way of connecting architecture-to-architecture, a term he calls A2A.

"Have you heard that B2B is really just A2A?" he asked rhetorically. "It over simplifies it a bit, but realistically what is happening is inside the four walls of enterprises, they're busy building a stable registry/repository of service-oriented architecture, service bindings and reusable components that make natural extensions outside to the partners," he explained.

Speaking of registry/repository, when will that technology be included in the Sun project?

The registry/repository is coming, but it is a little further down the roadmap, McHugh answered. Sun has a service registry that is UDDI 2.0 and ebXML 3.0 compliant, he said, but it is not ready for heavy duty usage.

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"We believe in registry/repository," he said. "We are busy looking at how we can best integrate registry with this entire suite. It probably needs a little bit of work, but we're ready to do that work."

Meanwhile, McHugh touts the scalability of the current version of JavaCAPS including the new secure identity management component.

"What you quickly realize when you're busy integrating your legacy systems," he said, "is you've got thousands and thousands of partners that actually feed these systems with data or they retrieve data from these systems and the whole thing works together as an ecosystem. The ecosystem term seems to fit because it's a set of entities that all exist independent of one another, but they are all deeply integrated with one another."

That is where the new identity management technology in JavaCAPS can help by providing security as Web services flit around the ecosystem gathering transaction data like bees flying from flower-to-flower. This is also where B2B becomes synonymous with the new A2A, McHugh said, although he admits the analogy isn't perfect, and "ecosystem" might be a better description.

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