Sun continues to hunt for developers

Sun Microsystems Inc. continued to place its focus on appealing to the developer community with a recent upgrade to its Java Web Services Development Pack 1.4. The company also announced a new edition of the Sun Java System Application Server 7 for its Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), which is available as a free download.

“We continue to focus in on attracting developers to the Java platform,” said Joe Keller, vice-president, marketing for Java Web services and tools. “We bring out reference implementation and software development kits that are related to the latest specifications and then we incorporate those into products and in the app server space.”

The availability of the early-access release of the Java Web Services Developer Pack (Java WSDP) version 1.4 includes support for Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) Basic Profile 1.1 and other Web services standards such as: Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP); Web Services Definition Language; Universal Description, Discover and Integration and XML.

In essence, the release makes it easier to develop Web services and service oriented architecture at the Java enterprise level, for J2EE 1.4, Keller said.

In recent years, the company has said it is trying to make the Java technology friendlier to a wider developer base.

At last year’s JavaOne event, Sun discussed its plans to grow the Java community by making an effort to attract 10 million developers. As the 2004 JavaOne draws closer, at least one industry insider said Sun’s announcements this week demonstrate that it’s priming the pump before the conference at the end of June.

Earlier this week, the company announced that unified modeling language (UML) would be integrated into its Java developer platform.

The recent release of the J2EE application server features improved scalability and has a reference architecture that scales to more than 100 CPUs and also provides 99.999 per cent availability, or five-nines availability, Sun said.

“In this release we also focused in on bringing to Java some of the kinds of things we did for Solaris which is intense scalability work,” Keller said. “This release marks kind of a big milestone for us in that we’ve been able to bring a load balancing system into the enterprise edition that allows it to scale to more than 100 CPUs.”

Sun also said the server offers wide Web support for servers including Apache Tomcat, Microsoft Corp.’s IIS and databases from Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp.

Sun said it has made tremendous gains into the application server space, despite being pegged by many industry insiders as ranking behind its largest rivals including BEA Systems Inc. and IBM. The company said its download numbers are ranking above 1.3 million since last summer.

“We are also seeing quite a lot of people starting to use that app server in commercial deployment,” Sun’s Keller said.

Thomas Murphy, vice-president, research services with META Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn. said it is great that Sun is working to be more active in the developer space.

Murphy said there hasn’t been a lot of uptake of the Sun application server yet.

“I am sure that they have good download numbers and there are probably people using it in development work since you can do that for free, but there isn’t a direct compelling reason for most people to move from [BEA’s] WebLogic or [IBM’s] WebSphere to Sun,” Murphy said. “There is a good cost model but still most people would look at a change over as not being free and few tools supporting Sun it isn’t going to be a quick battle.”

Murphy said Sun needs to show strong innovation and strong messages that sell to developers and to management.

“The price message is good for management. On the developer side, they have improving tools but they don’t have anything really extraordinary in the space,” he added.

Sun’s Keller said the next release around Java 2 Standard Edition will play a role at JavaOne in San Francisco at the end of June. Code-named Tiger, the release has been in beta and the plans around shipment for the product will be unveiled at JavaOne.

Also coming down the pipes at the annual conference will be details and a roadmap of the next version of J2EE. “This will also be the milestone of delivering the new tools, so Java Studio Creator will also be revealed at JavaOne,” Keller added.

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