Sun dancing SOA tune with Project Disco

Sun Microsystems at the 2004 JavaOne conference this week is previewing prototype tools technology, code-named Project Disco, for visually developing Web services that would be used in service-oriented architectures (SOAs).

Intended for higher-end developers building conversational, or highly functional, Web services, the futuristic Project Disco technology would use interactive object diagrams to help developers understand what is going on with their Web services, said Mark Hapner, Sun Distinguished Engineer and a Web services strategist at the company.

In targeting Project Disco toward users looking to implement SOAs, Sun is joining other vendors, such as IBM and BEA Systems, in focusing on this recent IT architecture paradigm. An SOA enables integration of applications and data through loosely coupled services relying on technologies such as Web services, enabling for more adaptable IT architectures than traditionally has been the case.

"We're going to show some prototype technology making it much easier to develop Web services," Hapner said in an interview at JavaOne here on Monday evening. Sun officials did not have a release date for when any products would be available that use Project Disco technology.

"What people are looking for is a succession of down-to-earth, practical features for deploying SOA applications," said Mark Bauhaus, vice president of Java Web Services at Sun.

Project Disco could be helpful to Sun if it fills a gap that the company has had in building composite applications, said Shawn Willett, principal analyst for application infrastructure at Current Analysis. "This could help them," if it provides process technology, Willett said.

Sun's SOA push at JavaOne follows by one month similar efforts made by BEA Systems at its own eWorld show, also held in San Francisco. But unlike BEA, Sun can offer real-world experience in building SOAs, according to Bauhaus.

"We're happy to have our competitors do the hyping," while Sun does the actual work, Bauhaus said.

Sun on Monday morning introduced Project Kitty Hawk, which is geared toward development of SOAs through the use of the Sun Java Enterprise System server middleware package along with Sun's tool technologies and professional services.

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