Sun To Offer Free App Server As Base For J2EE 1.4

Sun Microsystems next week will offer a free version of its application server as the reference architecture for J2EE 1.4

November 22, 2003

5 Min Read
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Sun Microsystems is offering a free version of its application server as the reference architecture for J2EE 1.4. The move is one of several upcoming Java releases that Sun is banking on to earn revenue and build out a broad infrastructure for developing, deploying and managing Web services on myriad devices, said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's software executive vice president.

Schwartz said Sun is providing its own application server for free as the J2EE 1.4 reference implementation to enable more widespread adoption of Web services on the J2EE platform. The move in no way will affect the business of J2EE vendors, such as IBM and BEA Systems, which already have their own specialized implementations, he said.

"J2EE is a commodity," Schwartz said. "BEA and IBM don't make money [on] J2EE," they make it on the added functionality and solutions they offer on top of their J2EE-compatible software, he said.

Anyone downloading the reference implementation/application server is free to use any of the source code for a new J2EE implementation, he added.

J2EE 1.4 is the Web services release of the specification for providing enteprise-scale Java applications. It supports various Java APIs to support XML-based Web services, as well as Basic Profile 1.0 from the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), which provides interoperability guidelines for using SOAP, WSDL and other standards.Sun also plans to make available its much-heralded Java Desktop System and Java Enterprise System software suites in December, Schwartz said.

Further, at its Sun Network show in Berlin on Dec. 3, Sun will unveil OEM pricing for its Java Enterprise System to provide a mechanism for a broad range of ISVs to build applications and services on the software platform, Schwartz said.

Sun's Java Enterprise System, formerly code-named Project Orion, combines a slew of Sun's software, including application server, portal server, directory server and Web server, for $100 per employee, per year.

The Java Desktop System is Sun's attempt to provide a Windows killer, observers say. It provides an open-source alternative to Microsoft's desktop system that is based on the popular Linux operating system.

The desktop system costs $100 per desktop, per month, or $50 per desktop, per month for customers that also purchase the Java Enterprise System. Educational institutions and nonprofits also can buy the suite for $50 per desktop, per month for their employees, Students receive the software free.Sun has high hopes its Java desktop and Java enterprise software suites will finally validate the company's huge investment in Java, providing much-needed revenue for the beleaguered systems vendor, which has been criticized for not making significant revenue on its software.

Schwartz defended Sun's Java software strategy against suggestions from Wall Street analysts that the company should back off its Java investment, lay off a significant number of employees and focus on areas of the business where it can make money fast.

"Spinning Java out of Sun would be like spinning the Internet out of Sun," Schwartz said. Although it's not clear to Wall Street how Sun makes money from Java, the company's future plans for wide-scale software infrastructure based on the technology will give investors the proof they need that Sun's strategy is sound, Schwartz said.

"We are enabling Java in a way we haven't before, and monetizing Java in a way we haven't before," he said.

Further, Schwartz predicted Sun's desktop Java system will be a "break-even" business in the next couple of weeks, with profitability to follow soon after. And Sun's J2ME and Java card businesses already are profitable, he said.To help proliferate adoption of the desktop system, which Schwartz admitted has not been an easy sell in North America because of Windows' dominance in that market, he said Sun is talking to foreign agencies about providing "per-citizen" licensing.

Through this licensing, countries could ostensibly provide their citizens with free or very inexpensive copies of the Java Desktop System, Schwartz said.

This not only will give Sun a huge volume play in providing a desktop OS, it also could give people in countries where PCs are not as prevalent as cell phones access to the Internet and networked applications on PCs and network appliances.

Sun's ultimate goal with its Java strategy is to make network management and security as easy for administrators of IT networks running Web services as it is for carriers and service providers to cell phones, Schwartz said.

To enable this, Sun is promoting the use of SIMM cards in PCs that can use Sun's Java card technology to authenticate users to PCs and networks in a similar way it provides "multifactor" user authentication and stores information for mobile phone users on Java-enabled phones.Multifactor authentication will provide more than just a login and password to protect a user's identity, Schwartz said, because these things can easily be pilfered by people who want access to someone's information.

Instead, multifactor authentication could ensure e-mail is coming from a valid Web site or server, or identify users trying to send an authenticated user information in a similar way Caller ID services work on phones.

Through this kind of authentication, e-mail users would be better protected from spam and viruses, and users that want to keep a lot of critical information on networks can be better certain their information is secure, Schwartz said.

Using Java card technology in SIMM cards also could open up a host of services opportunities for telecom carriers, network service providers and other agencies that could offer services to provide user authentication, he said.

While Sun will not support the recognition of SIMM technology in the first version of its Java Desktop System, the next version should support it, Schwartz said.

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