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SunONE Web Services Strategy “Not Just a Reactionary Technology to .NET” -- Sun’s top marketing honcho throws the dictionary

SunONE Web Services Strategy “Not Just a Reactionary Technology to .NET” -- Sun’s top marketing honcho throws the dictionary

(March 28, 2002) - Asked at JavaOne yesterday, by Java Developer's Journal editor-in-chief Alan Williamson, whether Sun's entire SunONE "unified software strategy" wasn't perhaps just a reactionary move on Sun's part after having been caught on the hop by Microsoft, the group marketing manager of Sun Microsystems reached for a new stealth weapon: the English language.

Admitting that the criticism is one he has heard often, Sun's Bill Roth responded to Williamson's question in defiant terms.

".NET in my mind is a very irresponsible thing to do," he told Williamson, "because it's basically forcing a huge asymptotic shift onto developers, onto customers."

(As every Java, XML, and Web services developer may or may not know, an asymptote is a line whose distance to a given curve tends to zero. An asymptote may or may not intersect its associated curve. This is maybe the first time in history that Microsoft has been charged not with monopolism but with with asymptotism.)

Roth went on to contrast the Sun Microsystems approach with Microsoft's 'you-must-do-it-our-way-or-else' revolution.

"What we have done with SunOne is to take a very evolutionary approach," Roth explained. "And we're actually being succesful with real customers today. You look at the Department of Defense-- the world's largest non-consumer portal--you look at LLBean.com, you look at the State of New Jersey, at the government of Singapore...there are people who are doing real Web services today, even if it's only [a] portal with XML integration in the background."

Pressed by Williamson for a timeline, Roth outlined Sun's three-phase roadmap for Web services. Phase One (the next 12-18 months) is "when people just integrate the stuff they have." Phase Two (another 12-18/24 months) is "when people begin to put services, when appropriate, into directories that will be shared among known trusted parties." Phase Three, what Sun refers to as the federated "cloud" of directories, Roth asserted, is "a phase that will last for quite a while."

Meaning, in other words, that we'll be waiting for Web services proper until 2006? Roth concurred, saying: "We are 36-48 months away from the science fiction of the universal connectedness of Web services...There are no actual implementations of any substance at the moment."

The reason, he continued, is simple enough: money - or rather, lack of it. "My own view on this is that innovation has to be fueled by something. We had a lot of innovation from 1995 to mid-2000 fueled by excess capital thrown off by the boom. Now there's not enough excess capital to fuel the innovation."

"This is clearly a very important technology," Roth concluded. "As soon as the market corrects itself, this stuff will take off."

Leaving unanswered, in reality, the question of which technology the Web services "stuff" will be built with when that moment arrives--Sun's, Microsoft's. . .or both. But Roth did mention that the SunONE Starter Kit produced by his own group, and available free on CD at the show, would hopefully be playing its part in juicing up the role of Java in the Web services space.

"The coolest area is really in the Web services tools area," Roth also asserted, referring to third-party tools created by some of the top vendors currently aligned with Java. "Whether it's what SilverStream is producing, or Systinet, or Cape Clear, it's these things that will help enable downstream development and really make Web services become a reality."

Unless developers succumb first to that asymptotic shift enforced from Redmond.

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