Suns New Software Directions: RFID, Games, 3-D

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-03-30 Print this article Print

Sun execs on Tuesday showcased some of the company's software technologies, including a forthcoming RFID solution, 3-D applications, migration tools, and virtualization capabilities for Solaris.

MENLO PARK, Calif.—Sun Microsystems Inc. is hard at work on providing an end-to-end radio frequency identification (RFID) solution for major retailers like Wal-Mart and its suppliers. Juan Carlos Soto, the director of advanced development in the office of Suns chief technology officer, told reporters attending Suns Software Day here on Tuesday that innovation was Suns DNA and that one of the many advanced technology projects his team was working on was the RFID Network, which stretched from tags to readers to RFID middleware, to integration, applications and the B2B scenario. At the event, Sun software executives also offered a glimpses into several other Sun initiatives, from Solaris 10 to new 3-D interfaces, as well as the companys Linux strategy. According to Soto, RFID technology was now becoming inexpensive and vendors like Sun had a mandate from large retailers like Wal-Mart, which estimates that automating the receipts of its supplier goods into its warehouse could save it $ 6billion to $8 billion, he said.
Sun announced its Auto-ID group in the fall. Click here to read more about the companys RFID vision.
Suns current RFID offering included hardware, software, services and test centers, the first of which would be launched in Dallas, Texas in early May. These centers would allow customers to verify that their RFID solutions would work with retailers like Wal-Mart. A similar test center was also planned for Scotland, Soto said. Suns solution was designed for scalability, manageability and failover, he said. The company was also helping drive industry standards, and it was incorporating its own real-world experience into the solution. "But these are hard things to get right and takes a lot of trial and error and experimentation to get it right," Soto cautioned. Check out eWEEKs Mobile & Wireless Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis. Be sure to add our mobile and wireless news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:   Sun was also active in game technology, with the leading customer there being Wall Street, he quipped, noting that the company was now moving towards consumer-type games. The total number of game consoles deployed was some 70-million, so "theres a huge volume out there." A lot of games were being written in Java, as were the cell phone games that consumers played today, he said. Soto then turned to Project Looking Glass, Suns next generation 3-D desktop, which will allow existing 2-D applications to be run as they are today alongside 3-D applications— all within the same desktop. "It allows users to move screens around and also take advantage of whats going on behind the screen, like jotting notes on the back of an application or to use more of the screen," Soto said. "We are in the process of implementing this in a usable way. This is only the beginning of the possibilities for us in this regard. Were enabling compelling 3-D applications to be written while conducting usability studies. This is not necessarily the user interface that will be the final one," he said. Sun would also consider making Looking Glass available to Gnome, but no final decision had been taken in that regard," he said. Next Page: Solaris 10

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel