Will Java spec shake up integration market?

Out of the dizzying number of Java standards, the newly minted Java Business Integration specification stands out as one which could upset the status quo of the multi-billion dollar integration software market.

Also known as JSR 208, the Java Business Integration (JBI) specification was finalized last week. It defines a way to write Java programs--specifically meant to integrate different systems--which can run in other JBI-compliant servers.

Sun, for one, is jumping on JBI as a way to push into the integration software market: it intends to write a standards-based integration server, called an enterprise service bus, based on the specification and offer it under its open-source license. A Sun commercial product based on JBI is due in the spring of next year.

As a new specification, JBI has yet to show that it will be widely used in the industry. But many vendors, like Sun, are clearly motivated to make it succeed.

For challengers, standardized integration means lower costs and a chance to take share away from the likes of IBM and Tibco Software.

"(With JBI), we'd like to do for integration what J2EE did for application development," said John Loiacono, executive vice president of Sun's software group.

Sun will complement its JBI server with a more comprehensive integration software suite from its acquistion of SeeBeyond, which Sun announced on Tuesday.

One interesting note on JBI is that IBM and BEA Systems —two companies which each have a substantial installed base of integration customers-- abstained from voting on the final specification.

Mike Gilpin, an analyst at Forrester Research, said that JBI has the potential to link Java programs more tightly with Microsoft systems. Most of the specification is written using Web services protocols, and does not need to be Java-specific, he notes.

Java programmers appear to be interested in JBI as well. John Gage, the director of Sun's science office, said that the "birds of a feather" meeting on JBI was the best-attended at JavaOne on Monday.

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