In-Depth

Suppliers rally around J2EE

[FEBRUARY 6, 2002] -- With the impending release of Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET toolset looming large, a group of Java licensees joined Sun Microsystems in San Francisco last week to show off the latest Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) offerings to reporters and analysts. The event was organized to draw attention to Java as an enterprise development platform, and to position Sun in the Web services arena.

The gathering included software makers that have built products that are certified compliant with the J2EE 1.3 specification, which was finalized last September. Officials from BEA, Borland, Computer Associates, Sun's Forte unit, IBM, Sun's iPlanet unit, Macromedia, Pramati Technologies, SAS Institute, SilverStream Software, Sybase, Trifork and TogetherSoft joined Sun executives at the event.

To earn J2EE certification, new tools face a battery of 15,000 tests for compliance with the 1.3 specifications.

J2EE defines a standard for developing multitier enterprise applications. According to Sun, the 1.3 version comes with a "full set of facilities for the development, deployment, and execution of multi-tier, server-centric applications." The Enterprise JavaBeans component model lies at the core of the platform, which includes Java Server Pages, Java Servlets, JDBC and JavaMail. The latest version also features improved security, support for wireless technology, better support for XML and new connector technology.

Although J2EE 1.3 does provide entry-level Web services through a basic parsing of XML, the platform lacks native support for Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI). Instead, J2EE supports APIs that integrate these protocols. Ralph Galantine, J2EE product line manager, characterized Sun's Web services strategy as "evolutionary." The idea, he said, is to add components to the core spec after developers have had a chance to work with the APIs. But, observers say, a lack of Web services standards built into J2EE puts Sun behind in the race to put application functionality on the Web. Microsoft is including native support for these protocols within Visual Studio .NET, which is set for official release on February 13. The Visual Studio .NET toolset is a core component of Microsoft's .NET Web services strategy.

Rich Green, Sun vice president and general manager for Java and XML, insisted that J2EE 1.3 already provides the tools necessary to construct Java-based Web services. "Some people are suffering from a slideware-driven time warp," he said, taking a shot at his company's archrival in Redmond. "They are waiting for .NET, where Java is already promising Web services."

But Leslie Givens, program director for WebSphere marketing at IBM, lamented J2EE's current lack of support for commonly accepted protocols. The platform is a great foundation for Web services, she said, but it needs to support these protocols. "We hope to see SOAP, UDDI and WSDL in Version 1.4. Sun has been a little vague about this."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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