JCP Gets Java Services-Ready

Connector architecture being updated.

Java developers, along with Sun Microsystems Inc., are shoring up Javas integration capabilities as Sun ramps up its Sun Open Net Environment Web services initiative to compete with Microsoft Corp.s .Net.

The Sun-sponsored Java Community Process is working on new versions of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and the underlying JCA (Java Connector Architecture) that will expand the ability of enterprise users to integrate e-business applications with EIS (enterprise IS).

JCA 2.0 features will likely be included in the forthcoming J2EE 1.4 specification, which is expected to be highlighted at the JavaOne show in San Francisco in March. J2EE 1.4 is scheduled to be released by the end of this year, although a date has not been set.

JCA is an architecture for connecting J2EE applications to EIS. JCA 1.0 is incorporated into J2EE 1.3, the latest version of the J2EE specification released in September. JCA 2.0 will extend JCA 1.0 with new features, including asynchronous integration with EIS, JMS (Java Message Service) provider pluggability, common client interface metadata and XML support, said officials with Sun, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Some developers said they believe Java services can work with the Web services standards—SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), WSDL (Web Services Description Language) and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration)—that others, including Microsoft, are employing.

"I do not see Web services and JCA as competitors but rather complementing each other," said Raj Rao, vice president of engineering at Resource Adapters Inc., a software developer in Fremont, Calif. "An example would be a request for viewing an account going to the e-commerce server over HTTP with the SOAP standard and the discovery and description through WSDL and UDDI. The components sitting below all of this could be a JavaBean talking to a JCA connector to the back end."

The latest efforts are aimed at making Java become a key technology for Web services integration. Companies such as Tibco Software Inc. and WebMethods Inc. offer proprietary integration products, but battle lines are being drawn over which Web services integration scheme is best for applications.

Rao said the further development of Java integration capabilities will be attractive to enterprises building e-commerce initiatives.

"JCA does not solve any integration problems directly. It only specifies a standard protocol of establishing communication and interaction between a J2EE platform like [BEA Systems Inc.s] WebLogic or [IBMs] WebSphere and an EIS," Rao said. "Now by just doing this, we can ensure that a JCA connector deployed on BEA WebLogic would behave the same on another platform like IBM WebSphere."

Microsoft officials maintain that .Net will make Java or JCA unnecessary. "We think the No. 1 customer problem is integration, not being able to run code everywhere," said Tony Goodhew, product manager for Microsofts .Net Framework, in Redmond, Wash.

"JCA is ... the equivalent to products that companies like IBM have had for many years," Goodhew said. "The JCA model is limited because its a tightly coupled way of talking to existing systems, but the model the industry is adopting is based on a third-generation model of XML Web services, based on true Internet standards like SOAP, XML and HTTP, that allow you to develop in any language, not just Java."