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JDJ Interview, by Alan Williamson

Preamble: On February 5 Scott McNealy announced to the world's press Sun's new strategy for building open Web services using open and industry standard technologies under the umbrella name of Sun ONE. JDJ's editor-in-chief got a chance to speak to one of Sun ONE's key architects, Anne Manes.

Alan: Sun ONE: What's it all about? Give us the 60-second elevator pitch please, Anne.
Anne
: Okay. Well, in a single line, Sun Open Network Environment (ONE) is basically an architecture to support Web services and it is also Sun's implementation of that architecture. So we have two different things: we have the basic architecture that is based on open technologies and we have a set of iPlanet products and a few Sun products thrown in to round it all out which provide a complete implementation of that architecture.

Alan: Reading between the lines, it's very hard to see anything new in the announcement. Sun, with JDJ, has been heralding these open standards for years. So why now?
Anne
: The big difference in what we said before and what we're saying now is that we've crystallized and brought everything together in terms of Web services, because Web services seem to be the next new thing. We've got all these folks scribbling around, saying, well, we know how to build Web applications but how do I go about building Web services. And this is more than just J2EE, which is the platform for building Web applications; this is J2EE plus XML plus a number of other activities that are going on in the broad spectrum of development among consortiums, and things like that, that are putting together everything that is necessary to build the Web services infrastructure. So, in addition to things such as J2EE servlets, JSP, and things that are necessary to build the Web application, we are also endorsing things like UDDI, which is a directory for finding businesses and the services they provide; WSDL, which is a way of describing those services as open standard XML protocol; and eXML, which is a full-fledged B2B e-commerce framework for actually doing international trade.

Alan: What is your definition of Web services? Every company seems to have a different variation on this. What is Sun's definition?
Anne
: Let me describe first what I mean by services. Sun has been promoting service-driven computing for a very long time, starting back with things like RPC, GENIE, and JNI. We've been talking about this for about four years now. Basically, it's some sort of content that you need to access via some sort of network. A Web service is a specific type of service that is specifically suited for working across the Internet, and across the Web in particular, over HTTP, and it is built using XML, and the service is registered in a Web service directory as opposed to a service-specific registry. Basically, the difference is the type of protocol you use to communicate with it and the type of registry it gets to register in it.

Alan: With respect to the overall strategy, and I refer to Scott McNealy's Sun ONE address, isn't Sun ONE much bigger than just the Web?
Anne
: Yes. One of the purposes of Sun ONE is that it extends beyond that of the Web services. The primary focus of Sun ONE today is to enable Web services because that is what everybody is attempting to do today. But Sun ONE is extensible to support other types of services, including wireless services and services in your home and services in all different types of devices. Our goal is to have all these different types of services completely interoperable, and seamless integration.

Alan: We read continually that this isn't a knee-jerk reaction to Microsoft's .NET strategy. However, every single speaker in the 2.5 hour presentation went to great pains to keep drawing parallels to Microsoft. Surely, if Sun ONE is so different from .NET, what sense is there in continually mentioning Microsoft?
Anne
: <giggles> Primarily, they're the only competitor we see in the space because everyone else who is developing Web services is based on Java and XML and it is only Microsoft that is not based on Java and XML. Therefore it's appropriate for us to compare our approach to Microsoft's approach. Microsoft's approach is very much Windows bound; everything they've developed through .NET is based on Windows and Microsoft technologies that are closed and force you to stay within their platform. Anything we've described with what we are doing with Sun ONE can be implemented by any vendor in the world. We have an implementation, but it's not the only implementation out there. In fact, we believe IBM could easily announce tomorrow an implementation based on their WebSphere offering. .NET is the only alternative to Sun ONE right now.

Alan: Sun ONE...JavaONE. Seems too much of a coincidence there. Are we going to start seeing another Sun revolution once a year in the heart of San Francisco?
Anne
: <smiles> We haven't made any decisions along those lines.

Alan: This drive for openness is admirable and something the industry has been needing to hear for years. However, surely the Sun ONE architecture should only define the standards. Are you concerned that your "no-vendor-lock-in" message will become diluted with the continual references to your own products, such as iPlanet and Forte?
Anne
: Sun ONE, first of all, is open architecture, and that is something anyone can implement and that is based on Java and XML. The Sun ONE implemen- tation implements that architecture.

Alan: Drawing a parallel here with the J2EE standard for a moment, is Sun ONE going to be a standard that is going to be versionable?
Anne
: We don't currently have any plans in place to do any conformance testing. Sun ONE is really only a set of guidelines. It doesn't say you must use every single one of these standards. We are planning on coming out with a number of developer aids, such as design patterns and best practices, sample programs, positioning papers, and other things that will basically help you build open, interoperable Web services.

Alan: So this is an evolutionary process, and so far we are only seeing the first step?
Anne
: Exactly.

Alan: With Java taking a pivotal role within the Sun ONE strategy, what can we expect to hear in June at JavaONE?
Anne
: You should expect to hear more about Sun ONE and where we are up to in terms of a status report.

Alan: Scott McNealy is now infamous for his Microsoft bashing. He seems to have influenced all the key Sun executives, as all their speeches have some derogatory remark for Microsoft. Do you think this is detracting from Sun's core message for a greater and more open industry?
Anne
: Well, our core message is that you should be building solutions based on open technologies, not closed technologies. We don't want people to be swayed by Microsoft's continual claim for openness, 'cause we don't believe it's really open. But with respect to Scott, I can't speak for him...that's Scott!

To listen to the complete presentation by Scott McNealy, visit www.sun.com/webcast/software2001/.

"Borland recognizes that the Sun ONE architecture formalizes Sun's complete vision for enterprise solutions, bringing together a comprehensive set of complementary technologies. Perhaps the most important aspect of this architecture is Sun's commitment to interoperability through open standards. Customers can take advantage of Sun ONE's platform and still integrate industry-leading technologies from other vendors, such as Borland Application Server, Borland JBuilder, and AppCenter, to give them a unique, competitive advantage."
-Tony De la Lama
VP and General Manager, Java Business Group

"Sitraka Software views the announcement of Sun ONE as a true milestone for Webtop technologies. Our enthusiasm for this important initiative is driven by our own commitment to developing enterprise solutions based on standards like XML and the Java Platform. In Sun ONE we see a tremendous opportunity to advance enterprise Java development and empower smart Web services by providing scalable, high-performance tools for development and deployment that integrate with the Forte development environment and iPlanet application servers."
-Larry Humphries
President, Sitraka Software

"The first generation of the Internet was about human end users accessing information and applications through a browser. The next wave of Internet technology will make Web-based application and information services available to developers to use in the programs they build. Web services frameworks based on Java and XML such as Oracle9i Dynamic Services make it possible to deliver on this vision today."
-John Magee
Senior. Director of Marketing
Oracle9i Application Server
Oracle World Wide Marketing

Oracle9i Dynamic Services
The Internet has changed the way businesses and consumers interact. By providing personalized, self-service Web applications that are available at any time, anywhere in the world, businesses have reduced costs while simultaneously offering customers faster, more accurate, and more responsive service. The next step in the evolution of the Internet will be to bring businesses closer together by enabling companies to exchange information and business processes automatically, in real time, over the Web. Web services will allow business partners to integrate their business processes, increasing efficiencies and reducing costs. For example, using Web services, one company's purchasing application could interact directly with another company's ordering application, with minimal manual intervention - speeding the transaction and reducing the risk of human error.

Oracle delivers on this vision with Oracle9i Dynamic Services, an extensible, programmatic framework that enables businesses to work more flexibly and efficiently with partners, suppliers, distributors, and other third parties by easily incorporating information, application functionality, or business processes in real time over the Internet. By providing a complete infrastructure for accessing, managing, executing, and delivering Web services, Oracle allows companies to leverage the expertise and resources of partners while remaining focused on their own core business strengths. With these services, applications can be dynamically configured and updated from services discovered in real time.

Because Oracle9i Dynamic Services isolates developers from service implementation and protocol details, applications can be developed more quickly and don't need rewriting when business partnerships or underlying technologies change.

Standards-Based, Open, Flexible
Oracle9i Dynamic Services leverage existing industry standards - Java, LDAP, and the latest XML specifications published by the World Wide Web Consortium. They will also support emerging protocols like Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI), SOAP, and Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) as soon as they are finalized and ratified by the W3C. The modular design of the Oracle9i Dynamic Services engine makes it easy to add protocol adapters to support new and evolving protocols. The same open architecture that allows these services to adapt quickly to evolving standards also makes it easy for businesses to customize the framework to meet their specific needs while still maintaining compatibility with external Web services, regardless of protocol or platform. In addition, Oracle9i Dynamic Services allows developers to create and deploy Web services on any of the more than 40 operating systems that Oracle runs on, including all major releases of Linux, UNIX, and Microsoft Windows.

Robust Web Service Execution and Management Environment
An effective Web service strategy involves more than just protocols. Developers need a way to easily customize the service execution flow by aggregating services and including custom business logic. Administrators must be able to manage services, track performance, and be notified of failures. Services must be able to be cataloged in a centralized, searchable repository, and be deployed in a scalable and reliable manner.

Oracle9i Dynamic Services leverages the power of the Oracle9i database to catalog, manage, and audit services, and the Oracle9i Application Server to deploy scalable, high-performance, and highly available Web services. It provides features to discover and bind services at runtime, combine existing services into a customized execution flow, and deliver the same service to multiple channels and devices. It also offers features to manage and monitor services, automatically failover to alternate services, and perform auditing (e.g., to track usage patterns, develop customer profiles, and bill clients).

The current production release is available for download at http://otn.oracle.com.
-Rob Cheng
Senior Product Marketing Analyst Oracle9i
Oracle World Wide Marketing
Borland

 

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