Vendors bicker about control

Most of the major U.S. application and World Wide Web server vendors have

licensed Enterprise Edition of Java 2 (J2EE) from Sun Microsystems Inc.,

the original developer of Java. IBM Corp., however, is a noticeable holdout,

claiming that it should not have to license J2EE and put a Sun logo on its

server products when it had such major input into J2EE's development.

"The Internet is, by definition, a set of shared standards," said Scott

Hebner, director of e-business marketing for IBM. "Sun's branding strategy

is inconsistent with that notion of the Internet."

IBM also has a beef with Sun over that company's earlier decision not

to turn the Java platform over to the European Computer Manufacturer's Association

(ECMA) for development by that body as an international standard. That goes

against the principle under which Java has been developed, Hebner said,

which is "to cooperate on standards, and to compete on implementation."

"There will be an inflection point somewhere, when the industry will

accept J2EE as a core product or not," Hebner said. "Our view is that the

Internet is trending to a universe of open standards. So, the question is,

why is Sun apparently going in the opposite direction?"

Sun counters that it is precisely because it is trying to keep Java

as open as possible that it withdrew Java from the ECMA process.

"Because IBM is a huge multinational and has its standards representatives

in every country, they effectively control most of these standards bodies

[such as ECMA]," said Bill Roth, Sun's group product manager for the Java

2 platform, Enterprise Edition. "One of the reasons we decided not to submit

Java to ECMA was so we could keep the standard available for all companies,

and not just the big boys."

Could this have an impact on the eventual acceptance of J2EE in the

marketplace? Although it argues with Sun over branding and standardization,

IBM says it remains committed to the J2EE specification itself and will

remain close to its future development.

Nevertheless, IBM says there is a case for Sun to answer, and it seems

prepared to wait things out.

"Over time, it remains to be seen whether the Internet/e-business market

will accept a particular vendor's product," Hebner said. "Would Extensible

Markup Language and other things have been taken up as quickly if they had

just one name attached to them? The development of the Internet so far has

shown that the notion of shared standards is vital."

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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