Sun makes P2P bid

Sun will soon release a specification and implementation of a technology called Juxtapose that provides basic P2P (peer-to-peer) capabilities. Juxtapose will complement Java, Jini and XML and will be released under an open-source Apache license.

Sun Microsystems Thursday announced its entry into the nascent market for peer-to-peer computing. In April Sun will release a specification and implementation of a technology called Juxtapose that provides basic P2P capabilities, said Sun chief scientist Bill Joy.

Juxtapose will complement Java, Jini and XML and will be released under an open-source Apache license and follow the Apache development model. Sun will also hold an online developers conference.

Is Sun trying too hard to expand its business?YES Joy and a handful of other Sun employees, including Java security expert Li Gong and business development VP Mike Clary, have been working on the project for six months to a year. The technology will include capabilities for piping between peers, aggregating peers into groups, monitoring P2P interactions, and security.

Joy said it is most important that Juxtapose be "simple and minimal." He stressed that Juxtapose is not an attempt at market dominance, but an effort by Sun to collect a group of like-minded people to work on P2P, although Sun will build some applications itself.

"An object-oriented language lets you add new objects as concepts, then the language can be extended by applications, and then you want the language to stop," Joy said.

"It must bootstrap innovation at the next level, and we the Juxta-layer-those kinds of layers in general-to be finished. So Java and XML, being finished in a sense, are important elements of Juxta."

Speaking at the O'Reilly P2P Conference in San Francisco, Joy said Java and Jini "are not going as well as I would have liked" because they depend on networks that have not yet been widely deployed. He also acknowledged Sun's problems with licensing and building communities around Java and Jini, although he said Sun remains committed to the two technologies.

Juxtapose may use Microsoft's SOAP to transport messages, but Joy said XML by itself is too static to be sufficient for P2P. The same is true for UDDI, the XML-based Web services directory developed by Microsoft, IBM and Ariba.

"We want something to send Java code to the local device to do computation," he said. "You won't get that from the XML world but they can participate."