JAVAONE - Sun makes further open-source moves

Sun is to release more open-source software as part of its ultimate goal of making all its software freely available, the vendor said Tuesday.

Sun Microsystems is set to continue its commitment to eventually make all its software freely available, with the Tuesday release of several additional Java technology pieces to the open-source community.

The open-source software includes Sun's portal server and more of the vendor's development tools.

Jonathan Schwartz , Sun's president and freshly minted chief executive officer, is due to formally announce the open-source software news in his keynote address Tuesday on the opening day of the company's JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

The company plans to open source its Java Studio Creator rapid development toolset, its Java System Portal Server 7 and its Java Message System-based message queue, according to Peder Ulander , vice president of marketing for software at Sun.

Sun will also be making available technology it acquired from its purchase of SeeBeyond with the release of the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) Engine from Sun's Java Composite Application Platform Suite (Java CAPS) .

Marking a milestone in Sun's partnership with rival Microsoft, Sun will open source Web Services Interoperability Technology (WSIT) components related to security, messaging, quality of service and metadata support, Ulander said. WSIT components lie at the heart of the two vendors' efforts to have applications based on Sun's Java technologies run on Microsoft's .Net Web services framework. Sun is also releasing a NetBeans 5.5 plug-in for WSIT and plans to support WSIT in the next version of its Java System Application Server .

How far is Sun along its path to open-source all of its software? "Taking a stab in the dark, we're probably about halfway there," Ulander said. "Our goal is to have everything open sourced in the next 12 to 18 months."

Sun expects between 8,500 to 10,000 people to attend JavaOne, Ulander said. Attendees will see a number of previously familiar faces among the line-up of Sun executives at the event.

In recent months, several former Sun managers have returned to the company including Ulander himself who left Sun in 2004 to join MontaVista and Rich Green , Sun's new head of software, who also quit two years ago to work at Cassatt.

"When we first left, customers were saying that Sun was like DEC [Digital Equipment Corp.], it just didn't get it," Ulander said. Those customer perceptions have apparently changed over the past 18 months as Sun has embarked on its move to open source technologies including its operating system via OpenSolaris and its Niagara chip design via its OpenSparc initiative. "Sun's definitely headed in the right direction," he added. "Innovation's back, not that it ever went away, but now it's the focus."

Returning to Sun was a "no-brainer for me," Ulander said. He does admit that Sun has yet to turn around its finances, but points to a 21 percent growth in revenue in the company's most recent fiscal results as a reason for optimism.

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