Sun developing software platform for P2P

Looking to build on its success with Java, Sun Microsystems Inc. said it is developing a software platform for P2P (peer-to-peer) computing that it hopes will provide a common base for writing distributed applications.

Speaking at the O’Reilly Peer-to-Peer Conference in San Frnacisco, Bill Joy, chief scientist for Sun, said the platform, called Juxtapose, would be an addition to Sun’s growing family of Web-based programming languages, which include Java and Jini.

“We wanted to see if we could take some of these ideas and come up with a common core we could imagine using for some of the P2P projects we want to work on at Sun,” Joy said, speaking to attendees here on the second day of the conference.

Sun’s goal is to provide an initial, simple code layer that will allow other vendors to build applications for peer-to-peer computing that interoperate with each other, he said.

Developers at Sun have been working on Juxtapose, or “Juxta” as Joy called it, for six months to a year. In April, the company will host an online conference for software developers where it will try to generate interest in the technology by taking feedback from developers and expanding on its plans, he said.

Joy would not elaborate with details on Juxta, much to the dismay of the P2P crowd; audience members asked for more specific information during a question and answer session. Joy, however, only asked for help from the audience with the project and their attendance at the April online conference.

In April, Sun will release the Juxta specification along with some of the basic functions discussed today. Interested users can write to Sun at to sign up for the April session.

Joy emphasized that finishing a security layer in Juxta early should help this P2P computing platform avoid hurdles which others might encounter over the course of their evolution. In addition to security, Juxta should contain some monitoring features that examine user activity, seeing what elements of P2P users like and those they don’t. Juxta will also provide group collaboration functions. Sun officials hope this will allow large numbers of people to work on development projects simultaneously.

Joy also discussed the open source approach he wants people to take with Juxta. Open source collaboration company CollabNet Inc. will host some of the Juxta code, as it does with Sun’s StarOffice productivity applications.

“We do not want this to be turned over to a standards body,” Joy said. “We are looking to find a group of people who are interested in working with us. Instead of a codified standard, let’s let the industry groups here go out and extend it, define it and determine where it needs to go.”

Sun hopes a number of experts in the P2P arena join in on the Juxta project and start building applications on top of this simple initial layer. P2P has taken off, but people have not found a way to make a true market out of it yet, according to Sun.

Joy joked about the naming of the new platform, saying Sun is running out of J words for new systems.

“Since we are running out of words, this might be last of the Js for us,” he quipped.

Sun can be reached in Mountain View, Calif., at