Sun Microsystems initiative to provide an open source set of building blocks for peer-to-peer computing is gaining some traction, but it still lacks enthusiastic support of large enterprises, according to industry executives.
Suns Jxta Project, short for "Juxtapose," was launched in April and has since signed up 6,700 developers. Sun has 20 of its own developers working on Jxta, which is basically a set of protocols for P2P applications, including methods for peer and group discovery and information sharing.
Hosted by Sun, Jxta.org has 50 projects under way and development is happening in a completely open source community fashion, said Ingrid Van Den Hoogen, director of marketing and business development for Jxta.
But according to an executive at one P2P software company who did not wish to be identified, Jxta has yet to be embraced by corporate America. "Jxta is taking a very grassroots approach, and thats not yet caught the attention of the mainstream business application developers," the executive said.
Van Den Hoogen acknowledges that most of the Jxta developers work for small companies that are "on the cutting edge of the network edge paradigm" or are independent programmers. But, she added, large companies are starting to become interested in Jxta, and Sun will be launching a consulting services group to help customers deploy Jxta.
"A lot of Suns enterprise customers, including some large telcos, are knocking on our door and saying it could help solve some interesting pain points for them," Van Den Hoogen said. She declined to specify which customers have inquired about Jxta.
Sun is also releasing a new version of the Jxta client, written in Java, in the next week. The new release will provide better performance and incorporates transport layer security, Van Den Hoogen said. Versions written in C and Java 2 Micro Edition, Suns stripped-down version of Java for small devices, will be released by the end of November, she said.
David Fish, president and CEO of distributed computing startup Avaki, said his company has been an early participant in Project Jxta. Avaki has demonstrated its system working on top of Jxta protocols as well as other transport technologies such as the Simple Object Application Protocol (SOAP).
"Jxta as a peer-to-peer protocol will be useful as we move forward in a world of small devices that talk to each other," he said. "Its of interest to have someone with the reputation and visibility of Sun promoting this."
But Fish added, "The jury is obviously still out" in terms of Jxtas long-term prospects.
Other P2P companies working with Jxta include Endeavors Technology, Improv Technologies, Oculus Technologies and Texar. Suns Van Den Hoogen likened the progress of Jxta to the early days of Java.
"These companies are calling us up, saying, Hey, were using Jxta and building some cool and interesting things," she said. "With Java, it was cool and interesting little companies doing things with it early on. It takes the grassroots effort to lay that groundwork. It was years before large-scale ISVs [independent software vendors] adopted Java."