Sun to shine on Enterprise Java

Sun Microsystems Inc. plans to show that Java 2 is enterprise-ready when it launches the latest edition of the development platform next week, but most corporations are expected to continue a cautious approach.

Sun Microsystems Inc. plans to show that Java 2 is enterprise-ready when it launches the latest edition of the development platform next week, but most corporations are expected to continue a cautious approach.

At the Java Business Expo in New York, the Palo Alto, Calif., company will showcase partners, mostly application server and database vendors, that plan to implement J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition).

The new release is a collection of technologies including Version 1.1 of the EJB (Enterprise Java Beans) component model, JSP (Java Server Pages) 1.0 and the Swing GUI components.

Despite the fanfare, Sun officials concede J2EE still has some kinks that need working out.

For example, the platform's reference implementation, which Sun plans to release in December along with more than 8,000 compatibility tests, is not pure Java, said Bill Roth, EJB product line manager, in Cupertino, Calif. "One-tenth of 1 percent" of the code will be in C, Roth acknowledged.

The impurity is necessary to integrate EJB with Common Object Request Broker Architecture, a standard that EJBs use to access remote resources within a distributed environment.

The need for C means J2EE is not yet ready to deliver Java's promise of "write once, run anywhere" within a heterogeneous enterprise environment involving distributed objects. However, Roth said the glitch will be fixed in the next version of Java 2, due in February.

The flaws that inevitably surface with new technology have caused companies in many industries, such as manufacturing, utilities and transportation, to take a cautious approach toward EJBs.

Many companies are still wary of the technology's scalability, maintainability and availability for critical applications such as accounting and inventory. As a result, some industry experts said they believe EJBs won't be commonly found in enterprise applications until 2001.

"I don't think we're going to see an incredible number of deployments necessarily this year, or even in 2000," said Joseph Chung, chief technology officer for Art Technology Group Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "But what we are seeing right now is widespread adoption of J2EE as a technology strategy [for Web development]."

ATG, a beta licensee of J2EE, has developed its Dynamo e-commerce applications in Java since 1996. Sites running on Dynamo include retailer JCrew.

Despite enterprise caution, J2EE is expected to be a viable competitor to Microsoft Corp.'s COM+, the component model pivotal to the Redmond, Wash., company's Distributed Internet Architecture. COM+ will still be incomplete in the commercial release of Windows 2000, which is due in February.

"Java 2 is a milestone in Java's evolution," said Joseph Feiman, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc., in Stamford, Conn. "It will be a major convergence point between the Sun camp and Microsoft."

Also at the show, Tower Technology Corp., of Austin, Texas, will announce the beta release of TowerJ 3.5. The company's flagship application server has been upgraded to Java 2, providing better support for EJBs, servlets and JSPs. Pricing has not been released for TowerJ 3.5, which is scheduled to ship in the first quarter.


Java for the enterprise

COMPONENTS DUE
Java 2 Enterprise EditionEnterprise JavaBeans 1.1 Java Servlets API Java Server Pages 1.0Dec. 7
Reference Implementation Mid-December
Compatibility Test Suite Mid-December
J2EE Version 1.3 February