McNealy challenges Internet users to power down

SAN FRANCISCO — Sun Microsystems Inc. chief Scott McNealy used the 10th anniversary of the JavaOne conference as a platform to talk about how future applications of Java, particularly in education and health, can bring about technological change

in the world’s poorest countries.

In his keynote address Tuesday, McNealy said Java is all about Sun sharing and participating in the community.

“”That is the core value of Sun,”” said a visibly tired McNealy, who was up at 5 a.m. signing an agreement to acquire integration specialist SeeBeyond for US$387 million in cash (see below). “”That is something we’ve been about since the early days.

“”We were going to share it because we had no choice if we were going to go after IBM and HP who had a huge head start. I always got concerned that Steve and Bill dropped out of school early and I stayed and finished my degree.””

According to Sun, there are currently 2.5 billion Java-enabled devices, one billion Java cards, 700 million PCs with Java, 4.5 million developers and 912 Java Community Process (JCP) members, including Oracle Corp., Apple Computer Inc. and Jboss Inc.

McNealy said JCP is the most successful community development model in the IT industry today.

“”The community process can be expanded and evolved to address and eliminate the digital divide,”” said McNealy.

To get a feel for how people live in underdeveloped nations, McNealy challenged members of the audience to turn off everything they own that’s connected to the IP network for the next year.

“”One week into it you’d probably have the shakes,”” said McNealy. “”Try and make a living, try and stay on top of your life and there’s a bunch of folks who’ve never made a phone call out there.””

Social utility is one of the major themes at this year’s JavaOne conference in San Francisco. On Monday, Sun president and chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz talked about the social value behind technologies past and present from the radio to the network.

“”Just like the whole concept of a radio was to inform the uninformed, network end nodes are informing the centres,”” said Schwartz, adding society is moving from the information age and entering the participation age. “”It’s not just about sending a blog about economic process as much as social progress. Participation is blurring boundaries.””

Schwartz, for example, said blogs on cell phones covered the tsunami that devastated the Southeast Asia region last December long before any news agency got there.

With that in mind, McNealy went on to talk about how the Java developer community can use technology to make improvements to health care and education. He said an e-health initiative is critical to solving problems like preventable deaths and the lack of automated systems that exist in the health-care system today.

On the education front, McNealy talked about Sun’s involvement in the Global Education Learning Community (GELC) project, which aims to open source kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum materials for students in the U.S.

“”In much the same way the JCP is about creating community developed technology, GELC is creating a Web site to have open sourced curriculum,”” said McNealy. “”This means curriculum is free to every parent, student and educator everywhere and can be enhanced.””

McNealy added there are presently 275-plus JSRs with 120 active projects. In last year’s keynote, McNealy urged Microsoft Corp. and Red Hat Inc. to join the JCP. McNealy Monday said no formal discussions between either company have taken place but the opportunity remains.

“”The invitation is extended and we’d love to have (Microsoft and Red Hat) participate and we’re happy to accept them at any point along the way,”” said McNealy at an international press roundtable session. “”They have not decided that I know of yet. That was not an exploding offer. It was available for as long as they want to consider it. I’d love to have them.””

McNealy added it would be a little harder for Red Hat than Microsoft to join.

“”Microsoft would probably have a lot more value to add given their huge R&D budget and their ability to help and contribute. I’m not sure what Red Hat could do. They could endorse but they really couldn’t help create.””

In other Sun news, McNealy had to make some last minute changes to talk about Sun’s acquisition of SeeBeyond.

“”The timing worked out three hours before my keynote,”” said McNealy. “”This is not a stunt acquisition. Something we’ve been working on for quite a while.””

The deal will allow Sun to complete its Web services stack with SeeBeyond’s Integrated Composite Application Network (ICAN) suite. Under the agreement, which is expected to close in the fall, Sun will extend the Java Enterprise System (JES) platform with a sixth suite, the Sun Java System Integration Suite. The combination of the two platforms will allow developers and systems integrators to develop, deploy and manage enterprise applications and Service Oriented Architectures (SOA).

“”The ICAN suite creates an open SOA,”” said SeeBeyond CEO Jim Demetriades. “”Combined with Sun’s market clout, customer base and leadership role this is going to be an opportunity for the entire Java community.””

IDC Canada analyst Dave Senf said with this acquisition Sun will target large organizations in health care, financial services and government.

“”These are natural targets for this type of offering,”” said Senf. “”Being able to combine legacy applications that government organizations or financial organizations has in their workflow is one of the big issues that those verticals are wrestling with.””

Senf added it will be a direct sales approach that has a services-led offering.

“”Sun offers identity management, they offer the application server and now they offer the ability to integrate all of your information from other applications into that stack that helps you Web-enable for users the applications within an organization securely,”” he said.

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