Defections Rattle Java Alliance

The loss of Java developers BEA and IBM spells trouble for the JSR-208 spec as it approaches final draft status.

An alliance supporting a key Java specification has frayed as the standard approaches final draft status, opening the possibility of a standards war over Web services integration.

Sun Microsystems Inc. and BEA Systems Inc. formed the expert group in March 2003 to develop JSR (Java Specification Request)-208, also known as the JBI (Java Business Integration) specification.

But as JSR-208 entered early-draft status this month, BEA pulled its support. IBM, which also initially supported the initiative, pulled out earlier this month in favor of BPEL (Business Process Execution Language), which IBM created with Microsoft Corp.

JSR-208 is designed to bring SOAs (service-oriented architectures) to the Java platform. It also extends J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) with business integration SPIs (service provider interfaces). The loss of BEA and IBM could mean trouble for the specification and create the possibility of new, competing specs emerging to support business protocols under J2EE.

/zimages/5/28571.gifSun is pushing the JSR-208 spec as the key to its SOA strategy. click here for more.

"The spec is itself an implementation spec, so it doesnt conflict with any Web services spec, but the implementation is sure to hit competition from IBM and BEAs own business process offerings, specifically the WebSphere Business Integration and WebLogic Integration products," said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, of Waltham, Mass. "So, this will prove to be a highly competitive area."

And while other software developers, including Oracle Corp., SAP AG, TIBCO Software Inc., Borland Software Corp., SeeBeyond Technology Corp., Sonic Software Corp. and WebMethods Inc., remain in the JSR-208 expert group, Sun is the only major Java platform developer still in.

JBI is the key to Java-based SOA strategies, said Mark Hapner, a Sun distinguished engineer and J2EE architect, in Santa Clara, Calif.

"JBI will drive the shape of ESBs [enterprise service buses] much like the EJB [Enterprise JavaBeans] spec helped drive the shape of app servers four to five years ago. In short, JBI will provide to ESB and integration what EJB has provided for app servers and business logic," said David Chappell, vice president and chief technology evangelist at Sonic Software, in Bedford, Mass.

Sources said they believe IBM got involved with the JBI effort because it was the only way the company could get a look at the spec.

In addition, because JBI works to level the integration playing field, supporting JBI may not be "in [IBMs] best interest," said a source.

IBM spokesperson Ronald Favali last week said, "IBM continues to participate as a leader in the Java Community Process and ... either as spec lead or as expert group member on many JSRs. IBM is focusing efforts for business integration around other specs that are further along, such as BPEL."

Sources also said BEA has a different set of issues, such as pushing more technology through the open-source community, rather than the JCP, to garner developer support for its platform.

BEA has open-sourced the development framework for its BEA WebLogic Workshop Java development environment, which is now an Apache Software Foundation project called Beehive.

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