IBM, BEA propose Java standards

IBM Corp. and BEA Systems Inc. on Tuesday disclosed they are working jointly on three new specifications for the Java platform, responding to pressure by developers and users to bring their respective applications server platforms closer together.

The three new specifications, which include Service Data Objects, Work Manager for Application Servers, and Timer for Applications Servers, are all intended to increase much-needed applications portability across the applications servers of both companies.

“Some users, and certainly ISV partners, have been instrumental in showing us the light. They both have been innovating in a number of areas around Java APIs, and they have been looking for some commonality. (Users) encouraged us to get together and collaborate more closely to find some convergence,” said Scott Dietzen, BEA’s CTO.

While executives from both companies said they do not expect to deliver server products that take advantage of the new specifications for about a year, they are releasing the information to developers now so that they have enough time to digest the technology and properly implement it.

“The rationale for publishing the specs now is that at least a core segment of our users and developers do not want to wait until these things formally become Java standards because the typical runway for a Java standard is between one and two years long,” said Rod Smith, vice-president in charge of IBM’s Internet and emerging technologies.

Many arch rivals of both companies, including Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp., have yet to pledge their support for these proposed standards.

“It will be interesting to see how this is perceived in the context of it being a departure from the Java Community Process. I think there may be some vendors who will be unhappy with this,” said Stephen O’Grady, a senior analyst with RedMonk.

Perhaps the most important of three standards being proposed, according to IBM and BEA officials, is the one for Service Data Objects. It provides a unifying programming model for data from heterogeneous data sources, including relational databases, XML data sources, Web services, and a range of different enterprise information systems. It offers a simpler programming model that also supports best-practice application design patterns, according to company executives.

“This is the one that will address a difficult problem the object-oriented world has been dealing with for some time. We have spent years building different frameworks that all continue to evolve. It is a significant piece of work that will help J2EE standards and our users,” Smith said.

The Work Manager for application server supports concurrent execution of work items. It enables J2EE-based applications, including servlets and Enterprise Services Buses (ESBs) to better schedule multiple work items to be carried out at the same time. This results in increased throughput and increased response time for applications.

The Timer for Applications Servers offers a simple API for setting timers in an application server-supported way. This makes it possible for J2EE-based applications to schedule future timer notifications and to receive timer notifications.

More information on the specifications as well as a whitepaper called Next Generation Data Programming Service Data Objects are available at or