Sun, JBoss forge Java agreement

Sun Microsystems, in officially announcing approval of the Java 2 Enterprise Edition J2EE 1.4 specification on Tuesday, also provided JBoss Group LLC, which has been at odds with Sun, with an opportunity to join the J2EE-compatible community. The Apache Software Foundation also will seek J2EE certification for its Apache Geronimo application server project.

JBoss, which makes the JBoss open source Java application server, has previously not been compatible with the official J2EE standard but now will have an opportunity to become compatible, according to Sun officials. JBoss will license the J2EE 1.4 specification and accompanying software development kit.

"We've reached agreement with them where they can get access to the J2EE test suite," said Rick Schultz, group product manager for J2EE and the Sun Java Application Server product at Sun.

JBoss has wanted to become certified but has had a disagreement with Sun over costs of the certification. But the company now believes it must obtain the certification as its product becomes deployed in large organizations, said Bob Bickel, vice president of strategy and corporate development at JBoss.

"More recently, what's happened is that large organizations are using this in deployment situations, so IT managers care more about the official certification mark," Bickel said.

The company will pay an estimated US$500,000 per year for the certification, according to a source familiar with JBoss's plans. Bickel would not comment on the costs.

Apache, in a prepared statement, said Sun's support has been extended to it at no charge through a Compatibility Scholarship Program. Apache does not have to pay a fee like JBoss does because Apache is a not-for-profit organization, according to Sun. Bickel, however, pointed out that companies supporting Apache are for-profit companies, such as IBM.

"We don't necessarily feel that's fair, but it was the only terms (on which) we could do business and we knew that it was important to move forward," Bickel said. Partner companies such as Borland Software are helping JBoss to pay for the certification, he said.

In unveiling J2EE 1.4, which focuses on building Web services on the Java platform, Sun also is releasing an attendant developer edition of application server based on Version 1.4. "This is in response to J2EE developers asking us over the years to include a deployable app server in the SDK," Schultz said. The J2EE 1.4-compliant application server will be Sun Java Application Server 8.

J2EE 1.4 was approved by the Java Community Process executive committee by a 16-0 vote on Nov. 12.

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