Sun Unveils Its Own Version of Web Services
Sun Microsystems Inc.
- By Scott Bekker
the latest company to announce its version of a Web services development
platform. Company executives, however, left the impression that it was their
idea all along.
Sun chairman and CEO Scott McNealy unveiled the framework
Monday in San Francisco. The framework, known as Sun ONE (Open Net Environment), is
not to be confused in any way with Microsoft’s .NET strategy, McNealy said.
“We’re not responding [to .NET]. We’ve been doing network services ever since
McNealy described what he termed “Smart Services,” which he
hopes to differentiate from Web services, the term that all other companies are
using. Smart Services, he said, is an “integratable stack of software that
allows you to create smart network services.” Those smart network services,
however, sound precisely like the Web services being offered by everyone else.
Java will be the basis for Sun ONE, although XML will also
play a prominent role. In fact, “Java and XML go hand in hand -- it’s the
one-two punch for Web services,” commented Pat Sueltz, executive vice
president of Sun's systems software group.
The iPlanet application server, coming out of the
partnership between Sun, America Online and Netscape, will serve as the platform for
Sun ONE development.
Sun ONE follows on the heels of similar Web services by Oracle, IBM,
Hewlett-Packard, and the best-known,
Microsoft’s .NET initiative. Although Sun is late to the game, it’s clear that
it is potentially seen as a major threat: both Microsoft and IBM flooded the
press with questions about Sun’s offering, and knocked Sun’s Web services
IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky says they may have reason to be
apprehensive. “Sun is one of the established vendors of system software and
systems for Web-based environments. Anything Sun does could potentially become
the standards in those environments,” Kusnetzky says.
Sun has always been known as a hardware-first company,
begging the question of why they are getting involved in such a
software-intensive undertaking. Sun president and COO Ed Zander says that Sun
did not just discover software. “We’ve been doing software since the early
1980s," says Zander. "We’ve been gearing for this day for several years, and have spent
probably $3 billion in software development to get where we are now. This isn’t
something we thought about a few weeks or a few months ago.”
Kusnetzky says Sun needed to take this step. “They view
software as a way to facilitate sales of hardware. I think they’re beginning to
understand that we’re moving in the direction that most sophisticated hardware
won’t move unless there’s sophisticated software to run on it. Sun understands
that unless they work closely with [the development] community to develop
standards they can work with, their position will erode. I don’t think it’s a
world that you can focus on hardware only anymore.” - Keith Ward
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.