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At JavaOne: Project Kitty Hawk kicks off Sun SOA strategy

Sun Microsystems unveiled details of its plans to support Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) in its Java Enterprise System server software suite and Java Studio programming tools at last week's JavaOne conference. Enhancements to these products under "Project Kitty Hawk" will make it easier for developers to write "a new breed of enterprise software" around Java-based Web services, company officials said.

"Project Kitty Hawk is taking the lessons from our customers who are using Web services for internal integration projects and pulling that back into our products," Sanjay Sarathy, Sun's director of marketing, told eADT. "We're taking things that our customers are actually doing -- real projects -- and we're saying how do we architect that experience more tightly into our products so that some of the best practices are available out of the box, and not just obtained three months down the road through a user group session."

Joe Keller, Sun's VP of Java Web services and tools marketing, characterized the announcements as a "roadmap describing the changes that we needed to make in the Java Enterprise System and Java Studio Enterprise to make it easier for you to take advantage of Service-Oriented Architectures."

Sun plans to enhance its basic Sun Java Enterprise System (JES)-based middleware product to more readily integrate Web services into SOAs by making it possible to expose core SOA capabilities as a collection of reusable services. For example, IT organizations building SOA applications will have the ability to use a JES-based registry service to provide centralized control of services versioning, services meta data management, and services registration and lookup, officials said.

The Project Kitty Hawk enhancements planned for the Java Studio tools will enable the Service Oriented Development of Applications (SODA) for deployment to the secure technologies planned for the JES, Keller explained. He described the latest version of JES, expected later this month, as "a collaborative development tool for rapid modeling, visualization and secure implementation of patterns-based, service-driven components for the Java Enterprise System."

Additionally, Sun plans to release a visual Web services designer (code-named "Project Disco") that will give developers a tool for assembling applications using the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), which was created to automate business processes.

Project Kitty Hawk will also provide what Sun officials describe as a next-generation business integration infrastructure, dubbed Java Business Integration (JBI). Based on Java Specification Request (JSR)-208, JBI is a Sun-led industry effort "to extend the Java platform to provide new standardized integration capabilities built on a modern SOA architecture," the company said. JBI components will include business process engines, rules engines, and routing and transformation engines, all from multiple vendors, which can be combined in a single solution. Currently, there are 24 active members in the Expert Group for JSR-208 (in addition to Sun), including BEA Systems, Collaxa, Oracle, SAP, SeeBeyond Technology Corp., Sonic Software, Sybase Inc., Tibco Software and webMethods Inc.

The current buzz around SOAs notwithstanding, distributed computing is nothing new, and Sun has been working in this area for some time. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has trumpeted the slogan "The network is the computer" since its founding in 1982, and it introduced JINI, a lightweight environment for dynamically discovering and using services on a network, back in the late 1990s.

"I think the SOA world is just a formalizing of where we've been heading," Keller told eADT. "The notion of the network being the computer ... has been our design center from the beginning. We believed that, ultimately, you wanted to do computing like a service. With the maturing of Web services standards, it's becoming easier now for people to understand these architectures."

The SOA picture may be getting clearer with the evolution of Web services standards, but Keller noted that most organizations are new to SOAs, and most developers are trained to build monolithic applications. Consequently, Sun is making a consulting service, the "SOA Readiness Assessment" program, a key component of Project Kitty Hawk. Keller called the program "a good first step for people looking to figure out where they are, what they have, where the gaps are, what the benefits might be, and what plans they should put in place to implement a Service-Oriented Architecture."

"We're building what I like to call our knowledge transfer practice," the firm's Sarathy added. "It's a way of saying that there are people within Sun who have had a lot of experience with this [technology] and we want to take their knowledge and impart it to our customers and prospect base. I think you'll see a lot more of that in the future."

Elements of Project Kitty Hawk are currently scheduled to be phased into the Java Enterprise System and Java Studio Enterprise developer environment over the next two years, with initial deliveries targeted for the first half of 2005, the company said.

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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