RealTime IT News

Sun, Microsoft Forge New Web Service Links

Sun Microsystems is poised to make its Java software play nicely with Microsoft's .NET software.

Sun said today that it is forging open source implementations of the key Web services specifications required to interoperate with Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), Microsoft's Web services platform, formerly known as Indigo.

With the implementations, programmers will be able to work with Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) and WCF systems to create Web services software that runs on disparate computing operating systems, including Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows and Linux.

The idea, said Joe Keller, vice president of marketing for Java Web Services and Tools at Sun, is to "build an application that doesn't care where it runs."

This philosophy goes to the heart of Web services, distributed computing models that allow computers laced with different architectures to freely communicate.

Specifically, Sun will implement WS*-specifications concerning SOAP-based messaging, metadata and security, Keller said in an interview.

"It's a set of about 13 specs that make up the list that you need to operate at a rich level with the Communication Foundation," Keller said. "Doing this interoperability allows you to have the freedom of choice to implement where you need to and not be restricted based on programming barriers."

The executive said Sun officials are heading up to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., to test the specs next week.

After the specs are tested and fine-tuned, they will be deployed as software tools and sample applications in the Java Web Services Developer Pack (Java WSDP), expected to launch in the first half of 2006.

Keller said Sun will also make the specs available to the public through Glassfish, the open source development project for Sun's Java System Application Server PE 9.

Eventually, the implementations will make their way into Sun's Java Enterprise System (Java ES) middleware platform.

The move is the latest -- though Keller said not the last -- step in fostering interoperability between Java and .NET. For years, the competing programming languages have caused great consternation in both camps.

The tension eased considerably in when Microsoft agreed to pay Sun $1.95 million in April 2004 to settle patent and antitrust charges.

The competitors agreed to put aside their differences to work on creating Web services that leverage both Java and .NET.

The first real fruit of this cooperation appeared in May 2005, when the companies pledged to write new specifications that enable Web single sign-on (SSO) between systems that use Liberty and WS-* Web service architectures, and systems management between Sun and Microsoft products.

If SSO and management interoperability between Solaris and Java technologies and Windows and .NET were the first two major bricks in the foundation, the ability to create Web services that run across systems that use Solaris, Windows and Linux is surely the third.

The news comes just days before Microsoft is scheduled to launch its most important batch of products to date: SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006.