Sun touts

SAN FRANCISCO – While Sun Microsystems Inc. wants to help Java developers better build applications that are intuitive and compelling for the user, those should also be qualities of the developer platform itself, the company’s executive VP said yesterday.

Rich Green was referring to Project Hydrazine, a Sun-hosted platform enabling developers and content creators to find, merge, deploy and share services. “It’s an immersive, creative experience on the platform, as well as running on the desktop itself,” he said.

The project was unveiled at this year’s JavaOne conference where the theme was “Java + You”, or the idea that developers and endusers can be connected to services they want and need.

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The idea behind Project Hydrazine is to create an “industrial strength open source, open standards services platform that gives you access to disk, cloud computing, databases, identity management, calendaring,” said Green.

Along with that, Green announced Project Insight, another technology in the pipeline where developers on the JavaFX platform will have insight into user action around applications they build, for instance knowing which features are popular and the length of time a user lingers on a particular component.

The goal is to help developers better monetize their applications through targeted ad placement, and help with future technology development. “The backdrop behind the fundamental business of the Net is being able to gather instrumented data to understand the actions of the user,” said Green.

JavaFX will be the first platform to offer that capability to developers, said Green.

Also at the keynote, the company announced its Java roadmap starting with the immediate release of Java Standard Edition (SE) 6 update 10 preview release. It also said it will make available the JavaFX Desktop SDK early access program this July, ship JavaFX Desktop 1.0 this fall, and release the JavaFX Mobile and JavaFX TV 1.0 in the spring of 2009.

Joining Green on stage, Jonathan Schwartz, Sun CEO and president, said to look out for more focus on emotive design from Sun in the RIA space in order to reap “maximum market opportunity” because ubiquity of the already popular Java platform is not a sufficient value proposition – there must also be high performance.

Later at a press conference, Schwartz said of RIA rivals Adobe Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp., “We are not particularly focused on the competitors right now.” Instead, Sun is placing its attention on the marketplace and relying on “differentiators” that distinguish it. For instance, Sun is responding to developers’ desires to see applications they build run across any device and grant them the opportunity to apply their Java skill set regardless of the platform. And, through Project Insight, developers can make use of, and own, the data they reap from their own applications, and have access to freely available code from GPL, the “world’s most popular and ubiquitous open source license”.

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Schwartz, however, did later acknowledge a “new battle underway to lead” in RIA. And he said the company has a pretty clear view of what’s required for success in that area: “In that battle actually, I think we’re very well positioned.”

In March, Microsoft released beta 2 of RIA development tool Silverlight 2.0. And Adobe released the production versions of its Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), a cross-operating system runtime for building RIA applications using Flash, Flex, HTML, and Ajax; and Flex Builder 3, the integrated developer environment for building Flex-based RIA applications.

Speaking of open source and the company’s effort in that area, Schwartz said he’s witnessed an “enormous appetite” for open source software by social media, network services, and device companies as well as those in the high-performance computing space. And, Sun, he said, wants to be there “early” if that’s where the future is headed.

Schwartz also addressed the company’s plan to cut as many as 2,500 jobs over the next three months, an announcement it made last week as it reported its not so stellar financial results. He said although certain markets like China, India, Brazil, Russia and Canada are prosperous geographies for Sun, the U.S. is “a tougher territory for us”. He added that Sun will “continue to build out the business as we’ve architected it” and proceed, as it has, to invest in data centre innovation in order to deliver the types of services that are emerging today in the realm of the Web.

Sun’s revenue for the third fiscal quarter, ended March 30, was reported to be $3.27 billion, suffering a 0.5 per cent drop from the same time last year.

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