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Sun Heats Up Java Vendor Wars

Sun Microsystems is adopting a "take no prisoners" approach to its Java war with IBM and BEA .

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker introduced a bevy of new developer tools and new server software Tuesday designed to get the company back in the hunt with Java-based distributions. Sun currently ranks well behind its two biggest rivals on that score.

Over the last few years, Sun has been working to make Java technology easier and more accessible to a broader audience of developers. Earlier this week, Sun added Unified Modeling Language (UML) to its enterprise Java developer platform. Now the company is looking to make it easier to develop Web services and service oriented architectures based on the Enterprise Java platform, known as J2EE 1.4.

To that end, Sun released a new edition of the Sun Java System Application Server. Version 7 for its Enterprise Edition is a free download that supports not only Sun's platforms but also Apache Tomcat and Microsoft IIS. The platform also includes database certification supporting Oracle, IBM, Sybase, Pointbase and MS SQL Server.

New features include a reference architecture that scales linearly to more than 100 CPUs at a time; support for multiple operating systems, including Solaris, Linux, Red Hat, HP-UX 11i and Windows; and added Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) and Remote Method Invocation over Internet Inter-Orb Protocol (RMI/IIOP) failover.

Sun also released its Java Web Services Developer Pack (Java WSDP) for J2EE version 1.4 as a free download. With 1.2 million downloads to date, the software will eventually find its way into most if not all of enterprise Java applications.

"The challenge [our competitors] are finding is the momentum around Sun's application server and developers are using the technology to add to a resurgence of our application server from the ground up," Joe Keller, Sun vice president of Java development platforms, told internetnews.com.

Slated for release in June, the Java WSDP 1.4 includes core Java Web services technologies for development, such as: Java API for XML Processing (JAXP), Java API for XML-based Remote Procedure Call (JAX-RPC), Java API for XML Data Binding (JAXB), Java API for XML Registries (JAXR), JavaServer Pages (JSP Pages), and JSP Standard Tag Library (JSTL).

The Java WSDP 1.4 also supports the latest OASIS Web Services Security (WSS) specification that lets developers to build secure Web services, including XML digital signature (JSR105), XML message encryption and authentication for Web services applications. The company said testing configurations with the Java WSDP also allows developers to install applications on the Sun Java System Application Server, Sun Java System Web Server or Apache Tomcat.

The company also said it is one of several supporting contributors to the WS-MessageDelivery specification, which is the "callback pattern," in which one service sends a request to a second service. Instead of waiting idly for a reply, the requesting services continues working until notified that the second service has processed the request.

Keller said Sun intends to keep the pressure on its rivals. Next month, the company is planning to announce more than a dozen changes to its hardware and software lineups at its second NC'04 event in Singapore.