RealTime IT News

Sun, Microsoft Breaking SOA Barriers

NEW YORK -- Microsoft and Sun Microsystems are closing the gap between them in an effort to speed the adoption of service-oriented architectures (SOA), a Sun official said at the Web Services on Wall Street 2005 conference here.

Sun Distinguished Engineer Hal Jespersen said the long-time rivals have been steadily working on setting up federated identity management to increase interoperability, a large barrier to wide-scale adoption of Web services and SOAs .

En route to the breakthrough, which Jespersen called a meeting in the middle of traditional LDAP from Sun programmers and Active Directory from Microsoft engineers, the two companies have worked to pass Web services standards on addressing, eventing, metadata exchange and management.

"There has been a schism in the industry around identity management collaboration," Jespersen said, echoing what analysts have been pointing out for the last few years. "The LDAP folks on our side and Active Directory folks at Microsoft couldn't share identities. In the coming months, Sun and Microsoft expect to provide single sign-on across Microsoft, Unix, Linux and Solaris in the enterprise."

It is important for two of the industry's leading software makers to cooperate on ID management, which could break down universal barriers in the way people can use computers to access information.

Such a development would be as groundbreaking as the two large competitors' initial agreement last April to meet in the middle over federated identity and Web services. At the time, Microsoft paid Sun $1.95 million to dispose of lawsuits regarding competing technologies.

But SOAs have since overtaken Web services for most CIOs, Jespersen said. The engineer outlined ways customers can apply SOAs to improve the utilization rate of gear in data centers beyond the traditional 10 percent.

Jespersen said CIOs have been complaining about the lack of flexibility in "siloed-business systems," where everything is locked in, rigid and inflexible.

To solve the problem on the software side, Sun, Microsoft, IBM and others have helped the traditional electronic data interchange practices make the transition to protocols, such as SOAP , WSDL and UDDI .

The protocols are now being used to enable Web services -- applications to conduct simple business-to-business exchanges. But Jespersen said Sun and others will soon be able to apply choreography and business integration to the B2B mix, yielding a "real-time enterprise nirvana" capable of providing information in milliseconds.

When this aggregation of protocols, registries and repositories gets a policy layer added to it, it becomes possible to use this to provide interactions between multiple business partners -- an SOA.

Sun's SOA plan is already in the works. Kitty Hawk is a three-pronged approach to SOAs that includes the Santa Clara, Calif., company's Java Enterprise System, Java Business Integration standards and services.

With it, Jespersen said SOAs will eventually execute, manage and monitor the utilization of servers in a data center, reusing services as necessary. The idea is to lower costs by helping programmers avoid writing new software from scratch.

Sun hopes to apply its SOA model to grids as a utility, part of an offering the concern launched Tuesday to provide computing resources as a hosted service for $1 per hour, per CPU.

Sun has a handful of foes working on the same problems CIOs and their staffs face. Most notable is IBM, a company with an allegiance to Java that makes it the top rival for Sun. BEA, Oracle and Microsoft are also seeking pieces of this SOA pie, which analysts rate in the billions of dollars.