General Motors Corp. plans to build its service-oriented architecture on a Sun Java Enterprise System backbone,
putting a huge feather in the cap of Santa Clara, Calif., Sun Microsystems Inc. and the Java community as a whole.
To prove it has a fully mature, easily accessible SOA platform, Sun put newly acquired SeeBeyond Technology Corp.'s application server and enterprise service bus into its open source projects.
GM was already a longtime SeeBeyond customer, using Sun's directory and portal products, but the new agreement will see the automotive giant leverage Sun's full development and identity management tools for an SOA built on Java and running on Sun's Solaris 10 operating system.
"GM is utilizing the full Java Enterprise System stack for cross component integration between our application server, our portals and our Web servers," said Fred Killeen, director of systems development and interim chief technology officer at GM. "As we begin to include new technologies within Java ES, such as the Sun Java Identity Management Suite, we will look at portlet standards such as WSRP, JSR-168 and SAML for the integration."
Jim McHugh, senior director of software portfolio marketing for Sun, said the GM deal came together right around the time Sun purchased SeeBeyond.
"That integration piece is a key component to building an SOA and clearly General Motors is in a position to leverage our ties with SeeBeyond," he said.
It also could be a triumph for Sun's static price and full toolkit licensing model, which does not charge per CPU or portal. GM will get everything from the development tools to the identity management to directory for a $140 per employee annual license.
Sandra Rogers, a research director for Web services and integration software at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, sees the deal as a score for Sun's efforts to present itself as a platform vendor rather than a toolkit provider.
"This raises their mindshare beyond being just a very good caretaker of Java," she said. She added that it also underscores that a major enterprise like GM does not believe that Java is too complex a technology on which to build an SOA.
ZapThink LLC analyst Ron Schmelzer said from the GM perspective "it makes sense for them to go to their current vendors to see if they can go forward with SOA."
He also sounded the often-repeated, yet necessary warning that an SOA is an approach, not something you get out of a box.
"You can buy the best products in the world and not have an SOA," he said.
The key for moving forward into a services model with any present-day vendor is the sort of "real architectural differences" that vendors can bring to bear, compared to their earlier offerings, Schmelzer added.
According to McHugh, the GM deal pushes the number of Java ES subscribers close to 1 million. Yet, what it really does, is give Sun the chance to demonstrate how well it can build an SOA, integrate legacy systems and interoperate with other vendors and technologies.
"It's a big confidence vote for us," McHugh said.