RealTime IT News

Java Enterprise Destined for Open Source

Sun Microsystems said it is hatching a plan to release parts of its Java Enterprise System (JES) to the open source community.

The network computer maker confirmed the strategy Thursday but provided very little in the way of details.

"Sun is considering open sourcing Java Enterprise System but has made no final decisions," Stephen Borcich, executive director of Java Enterprise System marketing said in a statement.

JES is the heart of Sun's Web services strategy and is currently central to the company's new subscription-based pricing foray. Sun is offering JES at $100 per employee per year. During the company's JavaOne show last month, company execs said the company was close to achieving the 200,000-employee mark.

On first blush, the strategy has the purpose of letting Sun commoditize its enterprise software in the same way that the company has announced plans to submit other software products.

Sun recently submitted Project Looking Glass and related 3D software under a GNU General Public License. The company has also stated long-term plans to open source code from its Solaris operating system to the open source community.

But the plan may also be a ploy to yank the rug out from under companies like JBoss, Borland and BEA that sell Java-based software but do not have the hardware to support it. Either way, Sun is hoping to gain ground on IBM and BEA, which continue to dominate the Enterprise Java marketplace.

If there's a downside for enterprises or Sun to such a scenario, Michael Dortch, principal business analyst at the Robert Frances Group, doesn't see it.

"Computer Associates, Oracle, Sun, and other leading enterprise software vendors have done pretty well of late placing select technologies into the Open Source community," Dortch told internetnews.com. "Java Enterprise System could provide IT executives and their teams with a powerful, cost-effective set of alternatives to proprietary and expensive traditional server applications. Sun could also do such a thing in a way that offers enterprises a choice -- Open Source JES solutions at little to no cost, or JES solutions with Sun support at a fixed annual cost per employee."

The JES software stack is pre-integrated into the majority of Sun's hardware and benefits from a quarterly update release cycle. Formerly known as Sun ONE middleware and developer products, the stack includes Portal, Communication and Collaboration, Network Identity, Application and Web, Availability and Security services.

Sun continues to make inroads with the application platform, which include customer wins with the Chinese and U.K. governments. In June 2004, Sun announced the second release of its Java Enterprise System 2004Q2 along with a new per-citizen pricing model for federal, state and local governments, which averages out to about $0.33 per person. The platform also now includes support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

And as to the continued benefit of offering up key parts of Sun's software to the open source community, the company said it is eager to put code out into the open, even if it is highly selective.

"We are open sourcing Solaris, so that it gets played with at the universities, because this is where the seeds of the next brilliant application come from," Andy Ingram, vice president of marketing for Sun's Network Storage Products Group, told internetnews.com.