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Sun promotes server version of Java

Sun Microsystems touts the popularity of the server version of its Java software, but IBM once again has problems with its rival's plans.

Sun Microsystems on Tuesday touted the popularity of the server version of its Java software, but IBM once again has problems with its rival's plans.

Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) is a collection of software components for running e-commerce software on back-end servers. It provides a level of abstraction that insulates companies writing server software from particular details, such as what e-mail or database software is being used.

J2EE is a key part of Sun's ongoing effort to steer the development of the Internet in a way that favors its technology, rather than that of its chief rival, Microsoft. While Sun has been trying to use J2EE to standardize e-commerce, Microsoft has begun creating its system, Microsoft.Net, for assembling e-commerce and other Internet operations.

The next version of J2EE is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year, Rich Green, Sun's vice president of Java software development, said at a news conference Tuesday. The upcoming version 1.3 adds support for XML (Extensible Markup Language), better security, guaranteed server availability and wireless technology.

Though J2EE was introduced in December 1999, software built to the J2EE standard has been slow coming because of the complexity of creating it and making sure it passes Sun's rigorous tests.

On Tuesday, Sun trotted out eight companies to show off shipping J2EE products: Art Technology Group, BEA Systems, Bluestone Software, Borland, Iona Technologies, the Sun/America Online iPlanet group, SilverStream Software and Sybase.

J2EE software from BEA Systems is in use on 500 CPUs worth of servers at Charles Schwab, while competitor Bluestone's competing J2EE software is being used at airline reservation giant Sabre Holdings, executives for the companies said during the conference.

IBM, while long advocating Java and contributing to its development, has been squabbling with Sun over J2EE since before it was an official product.

Although IBM objected to Sun's requirements for passing conformance tests and being allowed to label products as J2EE-compliant, Big Blue eventually agreed to pass the tests. The company's next version of WebSphere e-commerce software will be J2EE-compliant, said Scott Hubner, WebSphere marketing director.

But Hebner argues J2EE isn't sufficient. For example, it doesn't have enough support for new Web standards such as Universal Description Discovery and Integration, Simple Object Access Protocol, or XML.

Microsoft.Net, on the other hand, is open to these new standards, Hebner said. But unlike J2EE's comparative neutrality, .Net is Windows-centric.

"There are key emerging standards that Microsoft is implementing on a proprietary base, which is not good. And you have Sun, who is ignoring" the standards, Hebner said.