Some industry observers said they believe Web services, with their open standards, could eventually replace Java technology. But at the JavaOne developer conference in San Francisco late last month, Sun Microsystems Inc. and its supporters said that Java will play an important role in the development of Web services and that the key will be the ability to integrate applications and programs over the Internet.
According to some users, Sun, of Palo Alto, Calif., is taking a big step forward with new Web services support that will be introduced in the upcoming release of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) Version 1.4.
Bruce Hopkins, a senior Java consultant at Great Lakes Technologies Group Inc., in Southfield, Mich., said the J2EE 1.4 standard will include the functionality of Suns Java Web Services Development pack "to give developers a complete solution to create Web services in Java. J2EE licensees will license the J2EE technology in their Web application servers so that the developer doesnt have to worry about vendor lock-in."
This is important to developers, Hopkins said, "because Web services code written to the J2EE 1.4 standard should run on any J2EE-compliant platform with little or no modification."
Hasso Plattner, CEO of SAP AG, of Walldorf, Germany, said during JavaOne that developers need a framework upon which to build their applications but added that J2EE standards are not the only ones developers need adhere to.
In an address at the conference, Plattner said it is no longer enough to rattle off a list of Web services standards that systems support. "We have to develop a semantic understanding" of how to integrate components, he said. Once that is achieved, the threat of vendor lock-in will be ended, he said.
Richard Monson-Haefel, a member of the J2EE 1.4 and EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans) 1.2 specification expert groups, said, "Sun is a little behind the ball on Web services because most of the major vendors who would license J2EE 1.4 are already offering proprietary solutions, including BEA, IBM and [Hewlett-Packard Co.].
"It will be interesting to see how these proprietary Web services are aligned with the Web services APIs and J2EE 1.4. In some cases, vendors will continue to offer their own solutions while simultaneously supporting J2EE 1.4. In other cases, vendors will simply let their proprietary solutions die on the vine in favor of J2EE 1.4, which is something developers who are using those proprietary solutions should consider."
Mark Hapner, Sun distinguished engineer and lead architect for J2EE, said J2EE 1.4 will be available in the first quarter of next year and feature technologies such as Java API for XML-RPC (remote procedure call), JSP (JavaServer Pages) 1.3 and Java Servlet 2.4 APIs, among other technologies.