Sun gets moving on mobile Java strategy

SAN FRANCISCO — Sun Microsystems said it hopes to unite the wireless Java community and accelerate the development of mobile data services at its eight annual JavaOne conference this week.

Sun has created four classes of Java technology

– Standard Edition for desktop computers (J2SE), Enterprise Edition for servers (J2EE), Micro Edition for mobile devices (J2ME) and Java Card for chip-enabled “”smart”” cards – with standards for each category, said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun’s executive vice-president of software.

The success of Java’s future demands one Java, said Schwartz, “”not lots of disparate Javas that don’t work together.”” This, he said, will be the force that drives growth in the Java developer community from its current level of three million developers to what Sun hopes will become more than 10 million developers. It plans to do this by unifying Java components and eventually delivering Rave programming tools, which will be designed to bridge the gaps across the various categories of Java.

“”We need to get back to defining one platform for Java; one set of standards for (desktops, servers and mobile devices),”” said Schwartz. “”For this to happen, we need one system.””

By eliminating some of the complexity around the various platforms, Sun hopes it will foster an increased number of both developers and Java-based wireless applications for mobile devices.

“”We’re a US$13 billion company today,”” said John Fowler, Sun’s software chief technology officer. “”To get to be a US$20 billion company, we need to run Java on more mobile devices.””

End-to-end flexibility, scalability and portability of applications and data are critical steps for Sun, according to David Senf, manager of IDC Canada’s e-business operations in Toronto.

“”What this means is that organizations will really be able to deploy an application in their back end and seamlessly integrate it with their other applications, giving mobile workers access to the same functionality and data that employees in (fixed) locations have,”” he said. But it will be a couple of years before enterprises begin to realize the benefits of this functionality.

Wayne Pau is looking forward to better Java integration. Pau is the chief technology officer for, a Kitchener, Ont.-based company that has developed a Java-based workflow application for companies in the snow removal business.

“”It means we’ll be able to provide a better solution at a lower cost to the consumer because it will be easier for us to develop it,”” he said.

Sun’s focus on the mobile enterprise is in line with analysts forecasts for growth in this area. According to IDC, more than 60 per cent of the North American workforce will be mobile by 2006, and easier access to applications will provide the fuel for that growth.

“”It’s a chicken and egg scenario,”” explained Senf. “”Once you give workers the data they need to carry out their work, (so) you’re going to be able to push more workers out into the field.””

As for its desktop strategy, Sun said it will continue its push to incorporate Web services standards into the Java architecture and to ensure security standards are built into the architecture.

“”This makes it a lot easier for CIOs to allow their backend applications to interoperate, whether they’re written in .Net or Java,”” said Senf.

Sun scored two major victories at JavaOne as both HP and Dell said they would support Java on all their PCs and notebooks.

Sun also unveiled a new Java logo as the cornerstone of an advertising and branding campaign, the goal of which is to encourage demand from the mass consumer market. The new logo echoes Sun’s push for simplicity; it maintains the coffee cup, but has lost the wispy lines above the cup in favor of a couple of bolder strokes. It’s a move Senf said will help Sun in its goal of attracting more developers.

“”It’s not only the redeployment of the logo for better marketing cache, but they’re also trying to build out more tools for developers, so that more developers can deploy applications using Java,”” he said.

In other conference news, Sun announced, a new Web portal where Java developers can share ideas and exchange information.

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