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Commentary: Sun ONE needs more work

Sun Microsystems' Open Net Environment for supporting the development of Web services contains many good ideas, but Sun must do more work before enterprises can understand the true impact of this initiative.

    By Daryl Plummer and David Smith, Gartner Analysts

    Sun Microsystems' Open Net Environment (ONE) for supporting the development of Web services contains many good ideas, but Sun must do more work before enterprises can understand the true impact of this initiative.

    See news story:
    Sun wrestles with Microsoft for Web-services crown
    Sun has addressed Web services in a way that incorporates its overall system goals into a strategy befitting its slogan, "the network is the computer," which it used for years without a software strategy that could make it a reality. With Sun ONE, the company opens the door for introducing a wide range of software as services.

    Sun's biggest advantage with the program may also be its biggest disadvantage. Since Sun long claimed that its products and services were geared for a service-driven network, a software strategy that relies heavily on that innovative legacy could lead many enterprises to view Sun ONE as offering nothing new.

    However, several ideas in Sun ONE have not topped the company's marketing agenda to this point (for example, support for SOAP, WSDL, UDDI, ebXML and other Web service initiatives). Those and other aspects of Sun ONE state Sun's intent to help define what Web services become. Sun's embrace of emerging Web service technologies supported by rival Microsoft signal that the vendors will not battle each other at this architectural level, despite Sun's combative rhetoric.

    However, Sun has attempted to raise the stakes somewhat. Sun ONE offers the idea of "smart" services that move Web services to a higher level. Smart services would include contextual information about either the services or the entities that create and use them, such as identity, authorization level and roles. The smart-service vision, though, still has few concrete details. (Jini does not belong in the near-term goals for smart services, although ideas from Jini may make their way into products in several generations.)

    Of course, smart services would do little to promote Sun's products without the introduction of core Web service features into the Forte Tools and the iPlanet software stack. Sun ONE does that by promoting an architecture strategy that combines Java and XML, and uses Forte and iPlanet to create, assemble and deploy new functions.

    Gartner's assessment is that Sun has introduced many good ideas that tie together its hardware and software strategies to produce a strategy for Web service systems. However, Gartner believes that Sun should articulate more clearly what those services are and must differentiate them from generic Web applications before enterprises fully understand Sun ONE's importance.

    (For related commentary on a joint effort by Sun Microsystems and the Apache Group on a Web development platform, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

    Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.