Walking Before Running

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-04-02 Print this article Print

Youre talking server to client, client to server, and server to server. What about client to client?
Thats where we are going to have to put our heads together to think about how that happens. I think that intersects a lot of the discussions that you and I have been having over the past year—somewhat tenuously—but that really presents an opportunity. If you think about it, we are probably, second to Windows, the largest driver of volume technology on PCs on desktops.
I dont think its reached the level that Windows has on the desktop, but Java runs on hundreds of millions, close to half a billion PCs out there. For us to deliver technology to all those runtimes—remember those runtimes are also auto-updating—and potentially deliver some interoperability to the native Windows environment, thats a compelling opportunity. Again, thats not right now on the road map. On the road map directly is ensuring we have great interoperability at the directory and identity layer, and then to go look at what we can do around the database layer as well. When you refer to our conversations, you are referring to some events-based mechanism such as RSS? I think that would be a fruitful area for the two of us to collaborate. Have you gotten any indication that Microsoft has an interest in RSS? A fundamental element of events-based communication is ultimately identity. Were walking before we run. This is obviously a new relationship. Were dating. But so far, were still holding hands and things look good, and as we move forward having set down a foundation, were going to continue to look for new and compelling ways to add value to our customer base. To be honest, Steve, given that we have as much confidence as we have in creating this relationship, were going to look to our customers to give us insight and wisdom about how they would like us to better interoperate. Again, weve set the foundation for that interoperability to be identity, and where we go from there is going to both be a derivative of the creativity of Microsofts engineers and Suns as well as where the market tells us they want us to go push the R&D. To me, were seeing a unification across the Java and .Net frameworks at a real-time architecture thats a superset of both. Right now, were not talking about anything as grandiose as that. We are very much walking before we run. How does your promotion augur the role of software in Suns system architecture? I think it will probably play a much more active role in, not necessarily the technology evolution—I think thats been there since the creation of Sun Microsystems—[but] in the business modeling that is both how we price and how we can drive economics back to our stockholders. And if you want foreshadowing, you need only look as far as java.sun.com and notice that theres the word "free" at the very top of the page that talks about the hardware that you can get to run the software on. Have the doubts about Sun as a software company been put to rest by your appointment as president? That should be a confirmation of that. If there was ever a doubt that anyone has that Scott [McNealy] fails to understand the role and the value of software in a systems architecture, I think this should put all of those fears to rest. Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging Center at http://messaging.eweek.com for more on RSS, IM, and other collaboration technologies.
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Steve Gillmor is editor of eWEEK.com's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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