Rivals IBM, BEA set to reveal Java specs

Tomorrow, longtime rivals IBM and BEA will publish three new jointly developed Java specifications designed to increase application portability across both of their app server offerings. IBM and BEA survived a long battle for J2EE application server supremacy among several competitors, and some observers were surprised when the two firms revealed the collaboration last week.

According to Rod Smith, VP of Emerging Technologies in IBM's Software Group, the two companies have developed three new specifications -- Service Data Objects (SDO), Work Manager for Application Servers, and Timer for Application Servers -- which they expect to implement in upcoming releases of IBM's WebSphere and BEA's WebLogic Platform.

The new specs are designed to make life easier for developers who want to connect business applications across application servers based on the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition, Smith said. ''The goal of the collaboration is to provide our customers with a simpler and more consistent platform for J2EE development,'' he noted.

The two companies offered the following details on the new specifications:

Service Data Objects (SDO) -- Provides a unifying programming model for data from heterogeneous data sources, including relational databases, XML data sources, Web services and enterprise information systems. This specification will provide a simple programming model for data that supports best-practice application design patterns, and will be amenable to tools and frameworks that will provide even greater developer productivity.

Work Manager for Application Servers -- Provides a simple API for application server-supported concurrent execution of work items. This enables J2EE-based applications (including Servlets and EJBs) to schedule work items for concurrent execution, which will provide greater throughput and increased response time for applications.

Timer for Application Servers -- Provides a simple API for setting timers in an application server-supported fashion. This enables J2EE-based applications (including Servlets, EJBs and JCA Resource Adapters) to schedule future timer notifications and to receive timer notifications.

''BEA and IBM have collaborated in the past on new specifications. [Now,] we are entering into a new phase where providing consistency across both companies' application servers is of paramount importance to our customers,'' said Scott Dietzen, chief technology officer at BEA Systems.

The two companies are jointly submitting the proposed specifications for Java Community Process (JCP) consideration, Dietzen said. The JCP ''guides the evolution of Java technology'' by producing specifications, reference implementations and technology compatibility kits, via a consensus of industry experts, that use a review process designed to allow an ever-widening audience to evaluate and comment on the proposed specification. Both IBM and BEA are members of one of the two JCP executive committees.

Meanwhile, to give developers and customers a chance to take the specs for a test drive and to begin generating industry feedback, IBM and BEA will make the specifications available on a royalty-free basis, the companies disclosed.

The new specifications, and a white paper entitled Next-Generation Data Programming: Service Data Objects, will be available on two Web sites: and

About the Author

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


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