Sun explains Sun One again

The big news last week was, of course, the official launch of Microsoft's long awaited Windows XP operating system. But as Gates and company officially unwrapped XP at the big "do" in the Big Apple, kicking off a $250 million marketing campaign for the company's new DOS-less OS, archrival Sun Microsystems was stealing a corner of the spotlight by playing up its Web services play in ceremonies on the other side of the continent.

Last Tuesday, as Sun CEO Scott McNealy explained his company's One Web services strategy, he was forced to dismiss claims that Sun was late to the XML-based Web services party. "I think we're behind on the branding," he said. "I don't think we're behind on the capabilities and services we're offering."

Sun execs characterized the Sun One strategy unveiled earlier this year as an effort to provide "services on demand" through support of such standards as SOAP. The next version of J2EE (version 1.4, due in early 2002) will have support for an array of XML-based Web services standards baked into the Java reference implementation, and as a result, into all J2EE-certified products, Sun officials said.

The company announced that it would soon ship the Sun One Starter Kit, an SDK with tools and code to get users started with Web services. Sun is also launching the iPlanet Portal Server Instant Collaboration Pack, a new enterprise-scale instant messaging server.

Sun officials also confirmed reports that the company plans to move ownership of all product and engineering resources of the iPlanet application server unit, long managed jointly with AOL, to Sun.

Sun officials said the Java Community Process partners have released the JAXP API for support for XML processing and parsing. The Java API for XML Messaging, or JAXM, is nearing completion and will provide SOAP support for Sun's iPlanet application servers. The iPlanet Integration Server currently includes a native implementation of SOAP. Sun is also adding support for the JAX APIs to its Java tools, including its Forte development tools, to make the creation of Web services wrappers and descriptions easier for developers.

Sun President and COO Ed Zander underscored some of the differences between the Sun One strategy and Microsoft's .Net framework during the press conference. According to Zander, .Net is simply "another NT/XP desktop play" that won't scale to serve enterprise needs. Sun One, which exists in the Java world, is highly "integratable," he said, giving users a flexibility they won't find in the Microsoft world.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].