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Gosling: Don't count us out

Don't count out struggling Sun Microsystems Inc. in its battles with IBM, Microsoft and others, contends James Gosling, the creator of the Java programming language and one of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s best known engineers.

The company's high-end processors, Java, N1 and a focus on standards will let the firm maintain its place in high-end computing and help broaden its position in companies of all sizes, Gosling told a gathering of reporters in Boston during the Software Development Conference.

Gosling said Sun's continued emphasis on its proprietary Sparc processor provides Sun a key advantage in the high-end computing business. Critics have maintained that Sun would be better off abandoning the expensive Sparc efforts and instead utilizing high-end commodity processors. Gosling, however, said ''The market for big honking machines is still strong. Commodity processor builders'' can't meet the performance needs of these customers. ''If Sun or Motorola made a powerful enough processor, we'd use it. It's not just a matter of gluing a couple of X86 boards together.''

Sun follows the same strategy in the budding .NET vs. Java and J2EE battle, Gosling told the gathering. With .NET, ''Microsoft has gone for the easy target,'' programmers building straightforward systems. ''They have an unbelievable marketing budget and a desktop monopoly to exploit. With J2EE, the thrust is to make big, giant systems as easy to build and use as the PC systems.''

Gosling also expressed some hope -- along with some healthy skepticism -- that Web services can ease the process of creating .NET and J2EE interoperability. ''It's hard to tell whether it's working yet -- there's not a lot of data. My expectation is that it should work perfectly. Microsoft has made a strong public statement in support of (Web services) standards. If they keep that up everything should be fine, but historically Microsoft hates interoperability.''

The N1 architecture under development at Sun is also aimed at solving large systems problems, Gosling said. ''The whole idea is management,'' he said. Sun officials promise that the N1 product line will ultimately allow systems to be built and managed by utilizing available systems and software across an enterprise.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.

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