Sun talks Java, SOA at Wall Street conference

Sun Microsystems outlined its Java platform and SOA strategy at the Web Services on Wall Street Show & Conference Tuesday.

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Despite a shift in focus toward Web services, the former Java on Wall Street conference remained true to tradition on its first day, providing attendees with the latest developments to the Java platform.

At the Web Services on Wall Street Show & Conference, Rima Patel, a senior architect at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc., discussed the seven new major language features in the Java "Tiger" release (J2SE 5.0), including new libraries and syntax.

Patel also examined Java language updates, including generics, autoboxing, type-safe enumerations and meta data.

Meta data provides a standardized way of adding annotations to Java code. Annotations can replace the need to explicitly implement interfaces, add things like Javadoc comments and, in general, help to eliminate redundant code. Developers can annotate the runtime code, the Integrated Development Environment and even the compiler they are using, according to Patel.

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Currently in the early draft review phase, JSR (Java Specification Request) 181 focuses on Web services meta data and aims to define the annotations for Web services development and deployment.

Meta data will help improve Web services development from a Java perspective, Patel said. She showed a JAX-RPC code sample in which developers no longer needed to implement remote interfaces or worry about how to handle exceptions. Meta data annotations replaced a lot of the "clutter code," she added.

"There are two or three things from Tiger that are going to be leveraged across the platform," Patel said. "Usually, J2EE is based on the J2SE platform. Meta data is one of the key features that will be used across the board. If you look at EJB 3.0, it uses annotations very heavily. The whole plain old Java object model of development gives us annotations."

She also said Sun will be open sourcing J2SE 6.0 and will make available, on almost a weekly basis, the code for the 6.0 platform under the special Java Research License.

"This is what we call Sun's version of open source available primarily for academia and research," Patel said.

The JSR for J2SE 6.0, code-named Mustang, has not yet been submitted to the Java Community Process (JCP).

"Nobody knows what's going on in the JCP with respect to this spec; the work hasn't started yet," Patel said. "Some themes, however, might include Web services and XML support in the core platform."

Sun shines light on SOA

Ashutosh Kulkarni , group marketing manager of SOA and enterprise software at Sun, presented Sun's SOA strategy, touted Sun's Java Enterprise System (JES) platform and talked about Sun's SOA consulting services.

They [Sun] need to build their Web services platform via JES, but it will be an uphill battle
Ron Schmelzer
Senior AnalystZapThink LLC

Sun is promoting what it calls "pragmatic SOA." It believes companies should not reinvent their IT organization. Instead, companies need to look at incremental, opportunistic projects, according to Kulkarni.

Although Sun is doing a lot of work around SOA through its on-site engagements and its work on standards such as Java business integration, the liberty specs, Fast Infoset and reliable messaging, generating revenue from the products is still the biggest challenge, according to Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC of Cambridge, Mass.

"Sun has Java as their technology core," he said. "However, it's still [companies like] IBM and BEA that have been generating the most revenue around Java. They [Sun] need to build their Web services platform via JES, but it will be an uphill battle. Sun has great technology, but people have really bought into WebLogic and WebSphere, and Sun needs to do a better job to convince architects and developers to switch to their platform."

Attendees still in early stages of Web services

Naveed Hasan , a software architect at Bloomberg L.P., a New York-based financial services company, said that although some of the session was a rehash of previous Sun announcements, the new features in the Tiger release were very important.

Many developers and architects in attendance, such as Hasan, work for companies that are still testing the Web services waters.

"We have a lot of initiatives looking at new technologies and new architectures, how to use Web services to deliver data, and various internal projects for making things more reusable," Hasan said.

"We're still at a stage where we're trying to standardize the data so it's reusable by various groups within the company. So we're looking at things like Web Services Description Language and associated WSDL tools. We're at the very beginning stages of using SOA."

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