Sun's Take on Web Services

Should Web services achieve the popularity many predict, the war between Sun (new window) and Microsoft figures to rage on well into the future, as Sun’s Open Net Environment is the J2EE-driven equivalent of Microsoft’s .NET initiative.

But don’t make the common mistake of thinking that these two offerings are Web services. Instead, Web services are simply tools the technology industry’s favorite foes are using to bring their latest brainchildren to life.

“What Sun is talking about [with Sun ONE] is really larger than Web services,” says Bill Roth, group marketing manager for the Sun ONE program. “We’re talking about services on demand, and Web services are a part of that.”

Roth says Sun ONE is being designed to enable developers to create, assemble and deploy solutions. “It’s how we crisply articulate our software portfolio,” says Roth. “It’s how we take our products forward.”

Much of what developers create, assemble and deploy using Sun ONE will, in fact, be Web services. However, those Web services are only small pieces of a larger vision, which when realized will be Sun ONE.

Think of Sun ONE as a massive architecture comprised of hardware, software and services that are completely interoperable. Web services are the pieces of business logic that will support the specifications, standards and protocols—such as WSDL, SOAP, XML and UDDI—to enable the interoperability of this massive architecture.

Basically, that’s what Web services are and how they figure into Sun’s Open Net Environment. No doubt, there are still a lot of details to be worked out regarding how Sun ONE and Web services will evolve into the future. But that doesn’t mean enterprises should be taking a wait-and-see attitude, says Roth.

“Web services is really an evolution of component software,” says Roth. For Sun’s customers, J2EE will be the platform of choice for describing Web services. SOAP and XML will allow Web services to express themselves to other Web services, while UDDI will reveal the details of Web services. And Roth says, enterprises need to be working to figure out ways to integrate these technologies into their organizations.

“People should be looking at, ‘How do I take advantage of directory? How do I build robust applications with J2EE?’ They should also begin to start thinking of how to express their data in terms of XML,” says Roth. “That is going to past- and future-proof their data.”

For the enterprise, preparing for the future is extremely important. And while enterprises aren’t yet putting Web services to widespread use, Roth says they need to be careful not to hinder their ability to participate when Web services actually does become a movement.

“If you’re not developing in a new generation language like Java, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage,” says Roth, who feels enterprises really need to start taking their applications to the Web. “There’s some serious catching up to do if you haven’t started delivering applications through a Web browser.”

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.