Coming less than two weeks after Microsoft agreed to pay $20
million to end a legal battle with Sun over alleged
Windows-favoring alterations on Sun's Java programming language, it
was no coincidence that CEO Scott McNealy spent a good portion of
his time at the unveiling stressing that Sun ONE was not a response
to Microsoft's .NET initiative.
There is clearly no love lost between the two companies.
"This isn't in response to 'Not Yet'...er, I mean 'Dot NET',"
said McNealy, poking fun at Microsoft's development and runtime
environment. "We've been doing Web services since the beginning.
Our name is 'Microsystems.' That means we do network systems."
And what Sun does now, or at least is trying to do, is take its
network of existing technologies to create what McNealy calls
"Smart Services": networks where every component is interconnected
by open Web-adopted protocols. The advantage in principle from this
strategy is that developers and enterprises will be able to easily
customize their entire infrastructure using different technologies
that seamlessly snap into the framework.
The advantage in practice won't be known until Sun releases the
complete first version of Smart Services, slated for release at the
end of this year.
"If you pick Microsoft Exchange Server, then you're stuck with
SQL (Microsoft's programming language)," says McNealy. "You pick
one and you get all the others. We don't want to force people to do
Representatives from Microsoft did not return
SiliconValley.internet.com's requests for comment on Sun ONE by
press time, but an emailed statement received by Reuters
characterized the company as simply trying to pattern itself off
the software giant.
''How is this announcement not a belated and vaporous response
to Microsoft .NET?" asked the spokesperson.
Whether that's true or not, Sun is either shipping or intending
to ship a number of applications that tout an end-to-end
infrastructure for developing open, smart, Web services, all of
which results in direct competition with .NET. Mark Tolliver,
Executive VP at iPlanet (Sun's eBusiness software play, stemming
from an alliance with America
Online), debuted new versions of Forte, iPlanet's Server line
(Directory, Portal, Application and Web), and its Communication and
Commerce Portfolio, as well as a new productivity product called
Webtop, which allows users to post (and edit) personal productivity
applications over the Web.
"We're also deploying over 3,500 consultants to help our clients
with ONE," adds Tolliver. "And all of this, of course, will be
Regardless of who wins over the developing Web services market,
Greg Papadopoulos, CTO at Sun, says the industry is undoubtedly
heading towards what he calls an Internet of "things." By that he
means the extension of the network to include items not normally
associated with "computer-like" technology.
"I'm talking about doorknobs that know when the hinges are
rusting, cars that know when they need repair (and call the
mechanic to setup an appointment) and paint that knows it needs an
extra coat," says Papadopolous. "At Sun we understand the
importance of adding a policy of context, one where services have
the ability to change their behavior based on the user they are
serving and the environment they are serving the user in."
That context, adds Papadopolous, will experience a fundamental
shift from traditional delivery models as Web services become more
common. Rather than develop a piece of software for a certain
operating system that targets a single user's machine, for example,
developers will be delivering one copy of
an application that has to serve out potentially millions of users
"Sun ONE is about the nature of that architecture and the policy
for creating those independent services around you," he says. "It
is a comprehensive set of products for open Web services.
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