Sun, Apple plan intranet, multimedia alliance

Sun and Apple have announced a networking and multimedia alliance aimed at boosting each other's fortunes in the intranet market.

Sun and Apple have announced a networking and multimedia alliance aimed at boosting each other's fortunes in the intranet market. The companies plan to improve the interoperability between Solaris servers and Macintosh clients, officials say.

The OpenDoc compound document architecture developed by Apple and IBM will be made interoperable with JavaBeans, Sun's model for building Java components, officials say. And Sun's JavaMedia will be integrated with Apple's QuickTime, so a Java applet on a Web page can run a QuickTime movie, officials say.

"Users will have a powerful and competitive alternative to the Wintel platform," says George Scalise, Apple's chief administrative officer, during the announcement at Networld+Interop in Atlanta yesterday.

The companies plan to set up an interoperability lab to make sure that their technologies mesh well, officials say. Also as part of the alliance, Sun and Apple will work together to boost support for mediaLib, an interface to multimedia-capable processors.

Sun's chief technical officer, Eric Schmidt, says he has been personally pushing very hard for the alliance, because he has admired Apple's technology for a long time.

The OpenDoc-Java Beans interoperability plans are a boon for OpenDoc, which has been struggling to gain developer support, one analyst says. They are also a boost for Java, helping it counter Microsoft's ActiveX specification for writing applets, he says.

Microsoft pitches ActiveX as a platform for development, while it sees Java as "just a language", says Daryl Plummer, research director for application development tools and technologies at the Gartner Group in Atlanta. "This announcement firmly puts Java in the ActiveX competition arena," Plummer says.

ActiveX has functionality, says Ellen Hancock, Apple's chief technology officer. "But it has not yet answered the multiplatform, open standards questions that my customers are asking," Hancock says.

No date has been set for final delivery of the integrated offerings, officials say. But Sun and Apple are demonstrating some of their integration efforts at the show, including Java Management Application Programming Interface (JMAPI) desktop control functions running on a Macintosh, and Solaris servers distributing Apple multimedia across a network to different types of clients, officials say.

To improve Solaris-Mac interoperability, Sun and Apple plan to bundle the Apple File Protocol with every Solaris server, so Macintoshes can be fully managed by SunSoft's Solstice management package, officials say. Sun and Apple also plan to develop a common security architecture and give Mac clients access to Web applications via Sun's WebNFS, among other enhancements, officials say.

Apple can be reached on the Web at http://www.apple.com. Sun can be reached at http://www.sun.com.

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