Sun looks beyond Web services

Sun Microsystems Inc. is putting forward Jini and JXTA as possible solutions for anticipated bottlenecks in the delivery of Web services.

"Web services means different things to different people," said Stans Kleijnen, vice president of Market Development Engineering, Sun Developer Network. "But basically, they are component-based, XML-based, message-based, language-independent, dynamically-located, can be accessed over the Internet, loosely coupled and use standard protocols," she said.

According to Max Goff, technology evangelist at Sun, Web services face a serious growth problem.

"There is nothing to ensure that Web services development can keep up with the hardware development," he said. "By Moore's law, hardware is growing at an exponential rate while Web services will grow at a slower incremental rate."

He illustrated what he meant through the example of a person walking on the street and passing from an 802.11 network to another wireless technology network. Eventually, the technology will have to be able to transfer data seamlessly between different network models without the user knowing or needing to care. Using just the Web service model, there will be a need for many rules to solve these many architectural, protocol and hardware requirements.

"However, we will not have enough brain power to keep track of all these rules. Hence, there will be a need to think beyond Web services," said Goff, who believes that a more organic model is needed to solve the growth imbalance.

One answer could be JXTA (short for Juxtapose), a peer-to-peer platform that provides a decentralized environment that minimizes single-points of failure and is not dependent on any centralized services. According to Kleijnen, devices will be able to discover one another across a network in a peer-to-peer design. Hence, the creation of "polyarchical" systems, which means systems whereby the control does not lie in a centralized structure.

Another solution could be Jini, a plug-and-play technology that will allow devices and services to communicate with each other, enabling interaction and assembly of new services and network devices. Jini technology addresses the challenges of scale, component integration, and ad-hoc networking via its look-up functionality. The look-up functionality is the equivalent of a directory service. Services and devices are constantly being looked up by a proxy, which will be joining them to the network as they appear. According to Sun, a new release of Jini is slated for next spring.

Said Matt Thomson, manager, Technology Evangelism and Adoption, Sun Developer Network, "We are not going to tell you that Web services is going to be the end all. We believe that JXTA will be the next generation of P2P services and Jini will also be part of the future. We have to continuously push the envelope."

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