Sun's P-to-P project passes 1 million downloads

Sun Microsystems has crossed the million download mark for its peer-to-peer platform known as Jxta and is seeing early signs of the technology making its way into customers' applications, the company said Tuesday.

Jxta, short for Juxtapose, is a set of protocols developed under an open source license by Sun to help developers set up peer-to-peer (P-to-P) networks. Since the project's origination in 2001, more than 1 million developers have downloaded the Jxta software, which is currently in its second version. InView Software Inc. and Internet Access Methods Inc. are examples of Sun customers that have actually developed products using Jxta, said John Fowler, chief technology officer of software at Sun, during a conference call.

Jxta was the brainchild of Sun's Chief Scientist Bill Joy who wanted to create a standardized way for computing devices to "announce" their presence on a network and interact with each other. The technology provides a set of protocols that allows a user to set up groups of computing devices and to exchange information between them.

Sun is looking for Jxta to provide the foundation for networking a growing number of Internet-connected devices such as cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants).

Sun, based in Santa Clara, California, started the Jxta project just as Napster Inc. was near its height as a P-to-P platform for swapping music. Unlike Napster or other file trading applications, Jxta is not end-user software in and of itself. It provides a networking layer of technology that allows other developers to create P-to-P applications, Fowler said.

InView Software, for example, has used Jxta in its Momentum software for sharing files and working collaboratively on projects. Users can work on the same document, chart or drawing at the same time and see each others' changes, said Juan Carlos Soto, business and engineering manager for Jxta at Sun.

Internet Access Methods has built a software development application with Jxta that allows programmers to work together on writing source code. Developers around the world can work on the code at the same time and again see any changes made by other developers.

Version 2.0 of Jxta is currently standardized by Sun on its J2SE (Java 2 Standard Edition) platform but other developers are working on J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition), C language and C# implementations of the technology, Soto said.

Sun's Fowler said that companies such as Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp. are also experimenting with ways to add Jxta to their Web services software.

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