Server-side Java gains more momentum

All eyes are on the rate of standardisation of Java on servers now that a reference platform for the nascent Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) specification and newest Java Development Kit (JDK) are imminent. The new technology and implementations are good news for Java.

All eyes are on the rate of standardisation of Java on servers now that a reference platform for the nascent Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) specification and newest Java Development Kit (JDK) are imminent.

The new technology and implementations are good news for Java.

"I think that Java is accelerating in a big way on the server," said Anne Thomas, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, in Boston. "[Microsoft's] COM+ [Component Object Model+] is an implementation that does not conform to any other standard, and EJB is becoming a standard."

"We're already using and testing it in-house," said Jared Rodriguez, chief technology officer of Trade'ex, an Internet-commerce applications developer in Tampa, Fla.

Recent Java advances include a beta version of Remote Method Invocation (RMI), a Java-specific object transport protocol, over Internet Inter-ORB Protocol (IIOP) -- which is now in circulation but apparently will not be completed for the November arrival of Sun Microsystems' JDK 1.2.

RMI over IIOP will arrive as an extension to the current JDK 1.1.6 and JDK 1.2, and will not become a core feature until the next big JDK release.

"RMI over IIOP is a good thing. It unifies the wire protocol between Java and CORBA and hastens the Java/CORBA merger," said Daryl Plummer, vice president of the Gartner Group, in Atlanta. "It's a good tactical compromise."

By combining over-the-wire protocols of Sun's Java with CORBA-driven IIOP, a potential feud is avoided, and also Java developers can more easily take advantage of object request brokers (ORBs) and associated CORBA services.

"We want to make the [ORB] a fundamental part of Java going forward," said Bill Roth, product line manager for EJB at Sun.

Consequently, the newest RMI lets developers of distributed Java applications treat remote objects as if they are local, and lets them travel through Internet firewalls, said Simon Nash, a technology architect at IBM's laboratory, in Hursley, England.

Separately, Sun is preparing to unveil an EJB reference implementation -- a freely available server against which EJB server developers can run. Timing of the server's arrival was not disclosed.

"It's something we have to do," Roth said. "We need to deliver a write-once, run-anywhere server."

"It lets you develop based on the reference in the JDK without having to buy an actual platform to design on," Seybold's Thomas said.

But some observers said Sun is not only marshaling the EJB specification and designing the reference platform, but is also competing since itsNetDynamics acquisition.

The final release of the long-awaited Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.2 is set for late November with a coming-out party scheduled for Dec. 7 at the Java Business Expo in New York, according to officials at Sun Microsystems.

Among the new features in JDK 1.2 will be:

-- A pluggable Java Virtual Machine (JVM) feature, known as the Java Plug in, so the HotSpot JVM and future upgrades can be inserted without disrupting platforms;

-- A new security model that allows the assigning of different security levels on a component-by-component basis, known as policy-based access control, as well as certificate interfaces and x.509 v3 implementation; and

-- An upgraded component architecture that uses Java Foundation Classes (JFCs) as a core feature so that JVM licensees can provide JFCs in the JVM run time.

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