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Sun launches services to drive Java sales

SOA Path offers a set of consulting services to advise companies how to build a service-oriented architecture.

Sun Microsystems is launching consulting services for its Java server software to advise companies how to adopt modern system designs.

The initiative, called SOA Path, offers services meant to help corporate customers build a service-oriented architecture (SOA), Joe Keller, Sun's vice president of marketing for Java Web services and developer tools, said Monday. The consulting will consist of recommendations, such as technical blueprints, for building applications around Sun's Java Enterprise System suite of products.

The point of an SOA design is to let companies use an individual program in different scenarios. For example, a company network can have a single "service" that authenticates a person's network access for all of its business applications.

Sun will offer a suite of services, ranging from an upfront assessment to more expansive efforts to identify which applications will be earmarked for reuse as a shared service within a company.

Competitors and BEA Systems have already launched similar consulting initiatives for their respective Java server suites. Over the next several years, business customers are expected to adopt aspects of a service-oriented architecture, which analysts expect will be an important sales driver for infrastructure software.

Keller said that Sun's SOA Path service will be relatively lightweight, in that the company's professional services organization will provide a few consultants in an engagement that may last for as little as a month.

"We're going to take a very pragmatic approach and figure out which are their particular problems and incrementally attack them and not try to reinvent the entire corporation at once," Keller said.

For example, a company may want to simply take data from an existing application and make use of it in a different program, rather than write a new one from scratch.

The technologies that make an SOA design possible are the use of Web services, a set of industry communication protocols, and back-end infrastructure software to run these more modular systems.

SOA Path is part of Project Kitty Hawk, the name Sun uses for both product enhancements and services for building SOAs.

Keller said that its high-end consulting services address the "lifestyle" changes that SOA brings to a company and that can be more profound than the technology involved.

"Fostering reuse really does challenge organizations," Keller said. "You have to adapt and transform."