Sun Outlines Web Services Plan at Summit

Today at its inaugural Services On Demand Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., Sun Microsystems offered its first structured public explanation of its Sun Open Net Environment initiative and Web services vision.

“Sun ONE will now be to Sun what Java was in 1995,” said Ed Zander, Sun’s president and COO, during his keynote address.

The summit, a one-day affair, kicks off a 30-plus city tour of similar events, as the Palo Alto computing giant looks to get the word out about its Web services-related offerings, including its recently announced Liberty Alliance federated authentication system.

According to Zander, Sun ONE is a software architecture for building Web services that can be accessed anywhere with any device – a strategy similar to that which Microsoft is proposing with .NET. However, Zander made numerous efforts to differentiate Sun ONE from .NET throughout his keynote.

Zander said, while Sun’s solutions under Sun ONE, like iPlanet and the Forte Java development tools, are being optimized to work together, Sun ONE promotes the use of solutions from outside vendors as well through standards-based computing. Meanwhile, Zander painted .NET as a veiled effort at open standards computing that will ultimately just tie users to the Microsoft platform. “With Sun ONE, we’re talking about integrateable,” said Zander. “With .NET, I really think we’re talking about something that’s integrated.”

Sun’s jabs at competitive offerings didn’t stop at .NET, as both Zander and Sun CEO Scott McNeally also took shots at IBM’s efforts in the Web services space. “If you’ve got a wallet, [IBM’s] got a Hoover,” said McNeally, who described Big Blue’s Web services strategy as even more focused on proprietary solutions than .NET.

Like it did with Java, Sun is touting Sun ONE as a community-driven effort. During his keynote, McNeally called for the help of the developer community in building the Sun ONE architecture. He said, the goal of Sun ONE is to enable companies to deploy every piece of their business logic on the Web regardless of vendor or platform. McNeally drew a parallel between Sun ONE and a virtual jukebox, where the applications are compact discs and the pieces of business logic are individual songs.

McNeally also made efforts to portray Sun as a veteran of the Web services concept. “We started with one of the most important Web services ever – and that’s TCP/IP,” said McNeally. “Since we started in 1982, we never shipped a system without [TCP/IP],” he said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, we just never thought you had to name it.”

Another thing Sun wanted to make clear during the summit was its experience as a software vendor. Zander explained Sun has always had a strong presence in the software space. “What drives a lot of our hardware sales is, in fact, software,” he said.

It is of critical importance to Sun ONE that Sun build its reputation in the enterprise software market. The Solaris operating system, iPlanet server platforms, and Forte Java development tools all will play critical roles in the future of Sun ONE, and each are being optimized to work more closely together with their next releases. Sun said Solaris 9.0, which is currently in the midst of beta tests, is expected to be publicly available by the middle of next year.

According to Zander, Sun has been working on its Services on Demand strategy for the past three years, making key acquisitions and partnerships, like Forte and iPlanet, to better position itself for a services delivery model. Now Sun believes it is ready to start building on its services strategy. “We’re moving into the second generation of the Internet,” said Zander. “We want to make companies be able to use the Internet in a very open and scalable way.”

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.