Sun Targeting Developers

The Java originator is looking to substantially increase its developer base to 5 million from the 2.7 million it currently has in its developer program.

SAN FRANCISCO—Like its key competitors, Sun Microsystems Inc. knows the way to the riches in the computing industry is through developers, and the Java originator is looking to substantially increase its developer base.

Doug Kaewert, vice president of Suns Developer Network group, told eWEEK that Sun is looking at a target of 5 million developers registered in its developer program, the Sun Developer Connection.

At the companys JavaOne developer conference here, Kaewert said Sun currently has 2.7 million members in its developer program, up from 2.1 million a year ago. The Sun Developer Connection includes the Solaris Developer Connection and the Java Developer Connection programs for individual developers. While the ranks in Suns developer programs continue to grow, Kaewert sees 5 million as a magic number.

"You hit 5 million and youll have some strong, long-term, maintainable position in the market," he said. Kaewert also said that "developer" is becoming a much broader term that now includes content developers, corporate developers, core programmers, business analysts types and a large number of device application developers, giving Suns programs plenty of room to grow. Delivering easy-to-use tools through its Forte tools group is key to this growth, he said.

In addition, Kaewert said Sun, of Palo Alto, Calif., is entering into partnerships with key wireless carriers and handset manufacturers and with enterprise application software vendors and systems integrators to deliver solutions.

With one application provider in particular, SAP AG, Sun is expanding its involvement in the Java space, Kaewert said. He said Sun and SAP have plans to create a "special Java competence center" where the two companies will promote and develop Java solutions.

"SAPs making a huge commitment to Java, and its important that we work closely with them," he said.

Hasso Plattner, CEO, co-chairman and co-founder of SAP, is a keynote speaker at JavaOne Wednesday and is expected to mention SAPs involvement with Sun. Kaewert said both Sun and SAP, of Waldorf, Germany, will place technical staff in the joint center when it takes off.

In addition, Sun is making special partnering arrangements with integrators such as PricewaterhouseCoopers—for customer relationship management—and on Thursday will make an announcement regarding a storage solution with Deloitte & Touche.

"Were moving into a solution-led direction," Kaewert said.

Meanwhile, during a keynote speech to the Java faithful on Tuesday, Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy created a firestorm of conversation when he asked developers to help see that Sun rival Microsoft Corp. does not "hijack XML."

Later, Sun employees--including James Gosling, the inventor of Java, and Jon Bosak, a Sun engineer who co-created XML--defended McNealy and cited examples of Microsofts efforts to "embrace and extend" other industry standards, most notably Java, for which Sun currently has a lawsuit pending against the Redmond, Wash., software giant.