Sun to illuminate Jxta development platform

Sun Microsystems will garner third-party support for and offer more details about its forthcoming Jxta peer-to-peer development platform during a small press conference and Webcast in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Jxta, short for "juxtapose," comprises a set of low-level services designed to help developers build p-to-p applications.

At Wednesday's event, Sun will detail Jxta services, which include security and the capabilities of discovering other nodes and their services on a peer network, creating groups, and monitoring the network. On top of the core Jxta services, Sun will be offering other system-level services, such as authentication and reference applications, according to sources.

If successful, the project, first introduced in February, will lead to development environments and p-to-p applications, according to people familiar with Sun's plans.

Sun officials declined comment last week.

Third parties will be able to build applications using the infrastructure. For example, an ISV could write a high-availability storage application to tap several storage servers in a peer network for data backup.

"Sun is positioning itself to take advantage of the emerging opportunities in the peer-to-peer model," said Rob Hegarty, research director at TowerGroup, a financial technology research firm based in Needham, Mass. "Sun's initiative is a competitive response. A lot of their competitors are getting into this."

Intel, for instance, launched a tool a few weeks ago that enables individuals to help with cancer research by letting researchers use the processing power of their PCs. Last August, Intel created a p-to-p working group with members including Engenia Software, Entropia, Groove Networks, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.

Sun has said that Jxta code will be available with an Apache open-source license, but chief scientist Bill Joy in February said that Sun, which bought startup InfraSearch Inc. in March to prop up the p-to-p effort, does not intend to submit the technology to a standards group. InfraSearch's technology is a fully distributed p-to-p search engine powered by Gnutella.

"In this case Sun has chosen to open code to the entire open-source community to get the widest community of developers working on the project," said Bernie Mills, vice president of marketing at CollabNet.

Creating the operating system-level building blocks for p-to-p is a logical and necessary next step, said one participant in this week's event.

"The last generation [of computing] pretty much assumed that clients were talking to servers. Jxta recognizes that now we are actively pursuing p-to-p models and for the next step we need specific setup and run-time monitoring capabilities," said Erik Freed, CTO of Consilient, a p-to-p vendor.

The p-to-p industry needs "a lowest common denominator everyone can build on," Freed added.

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