Sun readies J2EE 1.4, app server

Sun Microsystems Inc. next week will ship Java 2 Enterprise Edition 1.4, which is designed to enable the use of Web services in Java applications, along with an application server based on the new platform.

The J2EE 1.4 reference implementation, for developing compliant applications, also will become Version 8 of Sun’s application server, said Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice-president for software, during a meeting with press at Sun offices in San Francisco on Thursday.

“The 1.4 reference implementation will in fact be our (basic-level) application server,” offered free of charge, Schwartz said.

“Anybody can get our application server,” he added.

However, higher level application servers that are more scalable and fault-resilient also will be available for a price, according to Schwartz. Sun, which has trailed in the Java application server marketplace behind companies such as IBM Corp. and BEA Systems Inc., will become the unit volume leader in application servers, Schwartz pledged.

“(Version 1.4) will become the first Web services-compliant platform delivered in the industry,” featuring the Web Services Interoperability Organization’s (WS-I) Basic Profile for utilizing Web services, Schwartz said.

“(Version) 1.4 is really the fusing of Web services with the Java platform. Now they are the same thing,” he said. The release of 1.4 will accelerate the trend of Web services being written in Java. Web services are intended to provide standards-based system integration.

Schwartz spoke on a number of topics at the session, including noting that the company’s investments in Java are turning into profitable businesses, such as with its handheld software technology. A recent Merrill Lynch report recommended spinning out Java from Sun, which Schwartz said would be “like spinning the Internet out of Sun.”

“The point’s not lost on us that our stockholders are interested in profits. In fact, many of us at Sun are interested in profits as well,” he said.

Sun, he said, will break even with its desktop software in the next couple of weeks. “Our desktop business is about to be profitable,” he said.

Looking to provide an alternative to Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows operating system and Office suite of applications, Sun is hailing its Java Desktop System featuring the Linux OS and the StarOffice applications package. The product is set to ship in December.

Mimicking the US$100 per employee, per year pricing available for the company’s Java Enterprise System suite of server applications, the company is pondering a “per citizen” pricing model to spur adoption of Java Desktop System internationally to get people connected to the Internet.

“We’re talking to government agencies about providing them with a license to our software that they can then either distribute free of charge or at an exceptionally low charge to their citizenry,” said Schwartz.

Not among those seeking a Microsoft desktop alternative are customers in the United States, Schwartz said. “I will be blunt in saying North America has the least sensitivity to price of any nation on Earth,” he said.

Sun also is promoting Java-based authentication for e-commerce via SIMM technology on desktops and handheld devices. “This year, you will see Sun delivering technologies that allow SIMMs provided by carriers that are incorporated into PCs to be used for strong, multi-factor authentication in Web services,” Schwartz said. The company is working with telecommunications carriers on the initiative.

“Our belief is every node on the Internet will be authenticated with a SIMM,” he said.

Under Sun’s plan, e-commerce purchases would show up on phone bills, said Schwartz.

Sun also plans an announcement next week pertaining to the company’s support of AMD Opteron hardware. The company already has announced plans to build a version of its Solaris OS for Opteron.