Sun Evangelist: Java Not Dead

Despite recent comments to the contrary, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Java are alive and well, according to Simon Phipps, Sun's chief technology evangelist.

Despite recent comments to the contrary, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Java are alive and well, according to Suns chief technology evangelist.

Simon Phipps, Suns chief technology evangelist, said in a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday that he is puzzled by recent attempts by Suns competitors—primarily Microsoft Corp. during its latest court hearing in Washington D.C.—to disparage Java.

Phipps said Sun and a number of other companies gain significant annual revenue from Java and Java-related systems and software.

In addition, the upcoming release of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.4 "will provide a strong forward-looking situation for developing and deploying Web services," Phipps said. Furthermore, the Java Community Process, which governs the progress and future of the Java standard, "is more and more out of Suns control," he said, meaning that the standard will move forward through industry consensus.

And while Java is enjoying its success, Phipps said he has been called upon to represent Suns interests in a new standards organization effort. Though reluctant to talk about the organization, Phipps said it would be a standards initiative in the mobile computing space.

The area of standards and Web services have been something of a sore point with Sun, after having been snubbed by Microsoft and IBM in the formation of the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization. However, Phipps said he was heartened by IBMs recent effort to warm relations with Sun on the Web services front and to make overtures toward bringing Sun into the group as a key member.

And regarding Suns executive realignment—prompted by the departure of a succession of key, long-term senior executives, most recently President and COO Ed Zander—Phipps said the best thing about the moves is that Sun has a new executive vice president for software, Jonathan Schwartz.

Phipps called Schwartz "a new 600-pound software gorilla on the block." He said Schwartz would be Suns first software chief that has all of Suns software products under their management. "A single brand for a single division," he said.

With Sun banking on Web services to create a future revenue stream, Phipps said he does not expect to see a ramp up in the use of Web services before the end of the year.

"We see a lot of our customers saying they want to move to Web services when the market recovers," Phipps said. He said his view is that the market will recover at the end of this year or the first quarter of 2003.

Besides the economy, another issue holding up widespread Web service deployment is the lack of security. Phipps said the most important issue in Web services security is the issue of identification and authentication, which Sun is pursuing through the Liberty Alliance. The Liberty Alliance is an effort to build authentication and security features into the Web services architecture.

The Sun-backed Liberty Alliance has been a sore point for Microsoft, which has indicated it would like to join the alliance, but has given the alliance a list of requirements, sources said.

As for security overall, Phipps said: "I dont expect well see all those things [security issues] being handled to military specification before we see Web services proliferate."

Yet, Phipps said he was concerned about the Microsoft- and IBM-led Web Services-Security standard—also known as WS-Security—and follow-on specifications might be "nothing more than line items in Microsofts GXA Architecture [Global XML Architecture]. "

"Id be very surprised to see the industry swallow that whole," he said.

Microsoft should submit its specs to the World Wide Web Consortium, which is responsible for the core Web services foundation technology, Phipps said.

Finally, he said he believes Sun has taken a bad rap from industry observers regarding the lawsuit it filed in March against Microsoft. He said the suit was filed to stop Microsoft from using its monopoly in the desktop operating system market to leapfrog all others in the Web services and server markets.

He said Microsoft continues to try to undermine the Java community and has continued to use the brash behavior that got the Redmond, Wash., company in trouble with the U.S. Department of Justice and into one lawsuit with Sun that was settled early last year.

"Were not litigious," he said. "Its expensive to do these things, but this was the right thing to do."

Microsoft, he said, "is unashamedly trying to hedge out and monopolize the Web services arena."