Web Services Industry Update from JavaOne 2001

by Steve Anglin

One of the two primary themes at JavaOne is Web Services, to no surprise. Web Services is evolving as a common XML and SOAP-based platform for P2P messaging, transactions and presentations among heterogeneous interoperable server-side programming platforms (i.e., Java, Visual Basic, COM, Perl, Python, etc.). However, many companies involved with this common Web services platform are aggressively offering their own interpretation of Web services in addition to enhanced product and tool offerings. Here are some of these companies.

Sun Microsystems' SunONE platform is Sun's attempt to brand its flavor of Web services for the marketplace. This includes the Java development platform, Forte IDE, the recently announced JXTA project, and the Solaris OS.
Here at JavaOne, Sun's Edward Zander announced that the Java development platform, specifically the server-side Java 2EE (Enterprise Edition) platform will be adding and integrating Web services specificatiations in ad-
dition to the JAX (Java and XML) API (i.e., JAXP, JAXM, etc.). However, very few specifics were offered in his keynote on Monday. But I would expect Sun will likely incorporate the pending WSDL (Web Services Description language) and ebXML. Additionally, as wireless is the other major theme here at JavaOne, look for Sun to back and/or develop the JAXW API, mostly based on the current WML (Wireless Markup Language).

BEA Systems is the newest entry into Web services. Using its best selling, strongly branded Weblogic Application Server and associated IDE and tools,
BEA is apparently going to brand its Web services strategy and/or platform as Weblogic Services. BEA Systems is at a disadvantage because their vendor status puts them farther away as implementors than Sun as creators of the Java and XML API and specifications. Another company, Borland, is also planning on a Web services branding strategy. Like BEA though, Borland is also at a disadvantage.

IBM is arguably the leading player in the Web services space. Similar to BEA, IBM will be initially relying on its successful WebSphere Application Server and VisualAge products in its potential branding plan. Its Web services brand will likely be WebSphere, in addition to/instead of currently running e-Business strategy and logo. Unlike BEA though, IBM is one of the major developers and backers of the pending Web services specifications WSDL and UDDI. IBM (and Microsoft) also developed SOAP as well as contributed heavily to the development of XML in the W3C. Additionally, IBM is one to watch right now. As far as programming plaform alliances, IBM has been on the side of Java (not Sun). However, my sources and research have uncovered an interesting trend.
IBM may be shifting its programming alliance from Java to C# (C-Sharp), Microsoft's new OO programming platform as part of .NET. Why?

  • Does not agree with Sun's Java licensing/royalty fees/dues.

  • Wants improved Java support for Linux OS on IBM Server/systems.

  • Could be initially supporting .NET as a political move to see if Sun blinks

  • Microsoft approaching IBM for .NET support with possible Windows/Linux integration,
    given Microsoft's falling market share for server-side Windows.

There may be other reasons, of course. Time will tell as this unfolds.
But given IBM and Microsoft's combined market leverage and cash flow, this
could definitely shake-up and fragment the Sun (and its many vendors) Java

And of course, there's Microsoft with its .NET platform. You obviously will
not see this at all at JavaOne, but you can certainly find it on our
.NET DevCenter.

Your thoughts? What do you think IBM will do, going forward? Stick with Java; go for C#.NET; or somehow allign with both?


2001-06-10 04:21:53
Back up your conclusions
I was a little flustered by your saying, "However, my sources and research have uncovered an interesting trend. IBM may be shifting its programming alliance from Java to C# (C-Sharp), Microsoft's new OO programming platform as part of .NET". I wonder what those sources are. Is it www.ibm.com? Or is it http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/ ? Could it be http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/webservices/ ? Its surely not http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/xml/ is it?

Some of your arguements are correct, IBM may be having an axe to grind with Sun with respect to the "openess" of Java. However i have seen no sounds comming out from IBM supporting .NET or C#. Such a move on part of IBM could be detremental on serveral fronts for IBM. It would also mean a strategic shift on part of IBM seeming to indicate that Java does not work and it has no future. Reality does not seem to bare this out. Java is important to IBM. IBM may have a problem with Sun not Java. There are a number of support for this assertion: Java is multiplatform, it assumes the JVM every where. Though it has CORBA it does not really address the issues of crossplatform. It is at this level that technologies like XML RPC (like SOAP) begin to make sense. Webservices is big for IBM (and as current Java1 shows, is also for the Java community at large). Services allow the decouple of the underlying application platforms like W2K and JVM or Unix. However if you look at the implementations IBM has got for its WSDL, UDDI or even SOAP (which it donated to apache.org), they are all done in Java. Maybe you should have said that Webservices are headed for fragmentation between Sun, IBM and Microsoft - I think that would have been a faired reading of what is happening, not the fragmentation of Java as you seem to be subtly implying.

But the true fragmentation seem more likely between J2EE and .NET. Which is no fragmentation at all.

Your log definitely came across as a bit of FUD. But I cant see how you can sustain it given the fact that two key JSRs at jcp.org related to XML RPC and WSDL have heavy IBM involvement. Once these are passed XML RPC and WSDL ends up being part of J2EE. Why is it that this form of embrace and extend is not mentioned on your .NET pages? Why dont you do a little FUD on those pages as well - "J2EE poised to embrase and extend SOAP,UDDI and WSDL by Next year".

Nevertheless, thanks a lot for flaging your view, I will definitely be on the look out for a shift that you seem to indicate.