Sun promotes a new world of Web services

The Internet must evolve beyond static Web pages to a new world of services, a change that will be require new types of network applications, a top executive of Sun Microsystems Inc. said Wednesday during a keynote speech at Internet World.

The Internet is about more than just building Web pages, and should provide a medium for delivering all kinds of services that interact with each other and pull information from those Web sites, said George Paolini, vice president of technology evangelism and marketing at Sun.

The computer industry has prided itself for 20 years or more in the complexity of its products, but at this point all end users care about is ease of use, Paolini said.

The message is hardly a surprising one coming from Sun, which is directing much of its energy to providing software for building new types of Web services. Sun makes much of its money from powerful servers, which will likely play an essential role in the Web services future it envisions. Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp. are just two of the companies competing in the same area.

Along with ease of use, context, or the ability to provide information to a user that is relevant to their current situation, is key for building smart Web services, he said. Depending on its context, a service should be able to modify its behavior based on changing parameters. Other important factors for smart Web services include the use of open standards such as XML (extensible markup language), which will allow vendors and service providers to offer products that interoperate on the Web.

He offered a demonstration by way of example. Using open standards, a user may be able to access a web page using a standard web browser, and drag and drop data from that Web page directly into a desktop application such as a spreadsheet program, he said. At the same time, the spreadsheet would be saved automatically to a back-end server, allowing others to access it from a cell phone or other device.

To end his speech, Paolini announced the launch of two Sun products intended to help enable this world of Web services: Java Web Start 1.0, software that automates the distribution of Java software from Web servers to client computers, and Java Media Framework, which includes tools for deploying multimedia applications over the Web. Both are available now from the company's Web site, he said.

"Think beyond the Web, which is not just an URL," was Paolini's closing advice.

Based in Mountain View, California, Sun can be reached at +1-650-960-1300 or online at http://www.sun.com.

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