Changing Partners

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-04-28

J2EE Collaboratition

The J2EE community gathered Monday in San Francisco to celebrate the launch of Version 1.4, as well as to tease the ease-of-use direction of next years J2EE Version 1.5. Does that mean 1.4 isnt easy to use?

The event was also a parade of a bewildering set of conflicting Java vendor strategies. You need a scorecard to sort them all out. Heres mine, with a quick snapshot of the players, to help you keep them straight at JavaOne this June.

Sun: B

With Jonathan Schwartzs disruptive all-you-can-eat software strategy now fully vested, the focus of Suns J2EE efforts will shift to the tactical. A free hardware bundle with the Java Developer System opens a line of attack for BEA, whose deputy CTO Benjamin Renaud maintains customers do not want app servers integrated down to the hardware level (code for the operating system.) Of course, Suns new partner, Microsoft, begs to disagree: Redmond doesnt have a stand-alone app server product.

Net: Volume wins by expanding out of a zero-sum game.


Everybodys favorite take-over candidate, BEA is moving toward an adaptive, personalized developer suite that is best-of-breed for Suns Rave/VB script-kiddies, BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) business logic jockeys, and EJB code warriors. Along the way, theyre hoping to virtualize IBMs Crossworlds integration connectors-in-a-box, cut off IBM Global Services blood supply, and shrink integration costs below 50 cents on the IT dollar.

Net : Could be one of the three survivors left standing when the dust settles; but what if the three are IBM, Microsoft, and JBoss?

JBoss: A-

Marc Fleury doesnt want Sun open sourcing Java—why screw up a good thing? Now that Sun has an open-source compatible license for J2EE 1.4, the inclusion of open source players such as JBoss and Apache means the J2EE market cant collapse into IBM or BEA domination. And Suns open ear to Fluerys simplification of the EJB specification in EJB 3.0 provides an easier path for JBoss reaching J2EE certification, while driving its Aspect-oriented programming mantra for innovation and corresponding services revenue.

Net: Professional open source reaches the Big Show.

Next page: Oracle, Borland, IBM.

Changing Partners

Oracle: C+

On the surface, says chief architect Ted Farrell, "Its all about choice. Compete on implementation, standardize on interfaces." So JDeveloper apps run on Weblogic and JBoss unaltered, while Oracle submits JSR 227 for declarative data binding. Meanwhile, back at the Redwood Shores ranch, Oracle is moving its platform intellectual property into its Collaboration Suite, seeking to migrate out of the app server commoditization trend into the emerging real-time events-based Net architecture.

Net: Closing on BEA in app server share, but the money is in services and the mind share is in tools for low cost developers.

Borland: C

With Sun, BEA, and Oracle attacking the IDE space with bundled giveaway strategies, Borland has never been under more pressure. The Sun/Microsoft deal also challenges Borlands search for a common component model across the Java-.Net divide. Java tools chief George Paolini sidestepped Borlands endorsement of the Java Tools Community by building on Eclipse and calling for "formalization" between the JTC and the Java Community Process. In other words, what Borland does.

Net: With friends like these, who needs enemies? Borland has prospered on the cornucopia of app server models; now it needs to lead or get out of the way.


Ill echo what they had to say at the J2EE event—no comment. Except the interesting notion from one competitor, that as growth of services revenue outpaces evolution of IBM products, Global Services will be forced to resell its competitors offerings. Talk about a zero-sum game.

Net: As IBM Global Services reaches 60% of Big Blues business, Sun and Microsoft are cutting them off at the API level. Software boss Steve Mills doesnt see the two working together for years, but fear makes a great motivator. And look out for JBoss, Steve. Same great taste, less filling.

Its fascinating watching these guys dance around the elephant in the room—Microsoft. With Sun, JBoss, and Borland openly courting Redmond in one way or another, the J2EE circus will roll into town for JavaOne with Web services under its belt, JMS messaging and business process management in its J2EE 1.5 sights, and customers in charge of pricing models.

The outlines of a new realignment are emerging—services as software (IBM, Oracle, and JBoss) on the right, software as services (Sun, BEA, and Microsoft) on the left, and Borland floating in the middle.

Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging Center at for more on collaboration and messaging technologies. Be sure to add our messaging and collaboration news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  

Rocket Fuel