Pass the ketchup, please

We here at Network World Canada are wondering what crow tastes like. We may have to eat some.

In an Insights column a few months ago (“Cracked bottles leak,” NWC, Aug. 28, 1998, page 14), we told you about how Sun Microsystems had spilled the beans on its too-good-to-be-true Jini technology — a work in progress that promised to deliver what the company calls “spontaneous networking,” connecting anything to anything across a seamless network.

In that editorial, we cautioned Sun against setting up the technology for failure by overhyping its true potential. Yes, Jini could be an elegant solution for relieving distributed-computing headaches, we said, but let’s not overstate its capabilities.

We followed that up a news story (“Jini won’t be out of the bottle for years,” NWC, Oct. 23, 1998, page 1), the title of which speaks for itself. Essentially, analysts at the time were saying Sun had unrealistic short-term expectations for Jini.

So when Sun officially launched Jini at an event in San Francisco last month (please see “Jini ready to work wonders,” page 3), saying consumers should expect to see Jini devices in their homes by late 1999, we started to scour the Internet for crow recipes.

But we’re not ready to put the bird in the oven just yet.

Sun’s own Mark Tolliver, president of the company’s newly created consumer and embedded division, said widespread proliferation of Jini in both the home and office probably won’t be seen until 2001.

And U.S. analysts interviewed by IDG News Service reporters said it’s much too early to say how successful Jini will be.

Cisco, Novell, Computer Associates, Motorola, 3Com, Nokia and Xerox are among the impressive list of 37 vendors that have agreed to manufacture Jini-enabled devices. But even these early Jini supporters haven’t been exactly forthcoming with details about products and ship dates.

Conspicuously absent from the list of supporters are Microsoft, Compaq and Oracle — leaving a rather gaping hole in Sun’s plans for seamless connect-everything networking.

So while we’re quite prepared to eat our words, we’d like to see how the Jini market progresses for the next few months before we do so.

In the meantime, we’ll be stocking up on ketchup.