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Sun Looks to Forge 'SOA Path'

NEW YORK -- Sun Microsystems became the latest major vendor to introduce service-oriented architecture (SOA) services, unveiling a new practice called SOA Path.

The idea is to allow customers to use Sun's Java software and services to support an enterprise's SOA from its planning stage to its implementation. According to Joe Keller, Sun vice president, the practice falls under the aegis of Sun's enterprise Web services practice, which was created last year.

SOA services are nothing new to the IT world. Sun rivals IBM and BEA Systems trotted out SOA services earlier this year among a whirlwind of buzz.

But Keller insisted that bringing new services to the public in 2005 doesn't mean Sun is behind its competitors. For one, SOAs aren't a product. For another, the models are so nascent that it is impossible to nail down any leader in the space.

Moreover, Keller said Sun's approach is different than those models of IBM. He said that while Big Blue chooses to have its global services groups do the SOA implementation, Sun prefers to educate and teach users on the best way to set up Java-based Web services and SOAs.

"We make it easy enough so that the customers can do the SOA themselves," Keller said Tuesday at the SOA Executive Forum event in New York. "We don't expect to do all of the work for you."

Sun will, for a fee based on the size of the company or project, teach users how to set up and run infrastructure software in accordance with its SOA service models. Sun is best suited to instructing users on how to use its platforms, but Keller said it has no problem showing users that they can tailor their WebSphere or WebLogic middleware for an SOA.

Keller said Sun believes its own middleware is the best suited for enterprises' Java needs. Sun's Java System Application Platform Suite, which addresses the use of Web services components to make disparate enterprise systems work together, resides in the Java Enterprise System (Java ES) platform.

So do the Sun Java Web Infrastructure Suite, a quick-start approach to Web services, and the Sun Java Identity Management Suite, which manages user identities.

Keller said SOA Path offers four services. The SOA Jumpstart Workshop helps customers gauge services requirements, candidate architecture and implementation. Technical and business participants will be able to coordinate the design and deployment of business services.

SOA Opportunity Assessment offers users an analysis of business processes and provides instruction on how to set up the computing architecture under and SOA framework. The service evaluates design time and deployment for composite application and services that are currently under way.

The SOA Proof of Concept pinpoints business services for their reuse potential. Finally, the SOA Center of Excellence instructs users on how to reuse current processes and code in accordance with standards and compliance regulations.

Keller said the VPS ASA (Norwegian Central Securities Depository) recently took a three-week SOA Opportunity Assessment. It helped to identify existing strengths and weaknesses for implementing an SOA. More customers are in the pipeline.



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