Sun makes crucial step toward open source J2EE

Sun makes crucial step toward open source J2EE

Sun Microsystems has moved one step closer to certifying an open-source application server as J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) compatible.

The company has awarded a scholarship worth several hundred thousand dollars to the ObjectWeb Consortium, a non-profit organisation based in Montbonnot Saint Martin, France, so it can begin certification testing on its Java Open Application Server (JOnAS ) software, director of Sun's Java Community Process Program Management Office, said.

Sun established the scholarship program in August 2002 as a way of encouraging open source Java development. The company has committed $US3 million in software and support services to the program over three years, with a goal of helping 30 open source projects per year achieve Java certification.

ObjectWeb was the first organisation to receive a scholarship to certify a J2EE server, Kluyt said.

Only one other entity, the JBoss Group, had ever applied for a J2EE scholarship, Kluyt said.

JBoss's application was rejected, however, because Sun's scholarships were awarded only to non-profit organisations, Kluyt said.

"The JBoss Group is a commercial company, so it's hard to see how that fits with the purpose of the program," he said.

Sun is in negotiations now with ObjectWeb to work out the details of the certification process, which requires a great deal of engineering work, some of which will be supported by Sun engineers as part of the scholarship grant.

This process could take several months, Kluyt predicted.

"There's actually a lot of detail to how that works out," he said.

ObjectWeb was founded in 2002 to foster the development of a wide range of open source middleware, including JOnAS.

The scholarship award is the second major accomplishment for ObjectWeb in the last two months. In August, Linux vendor Red Hat announced plans to bundle JOnAS as part of its Red Hat Advanced Server product by the end of the year.

A J2EE-certified open source application server would not necessarily have an immediate impact on enterprise application server vendors such as BEA Systems or IBM, but it affected companies such as JBoss, an analyst with Red Monk, Stephen O'Grady, said.

"I think it does put the pressure on JBoss," he said. "If I have a tight budget and all of a sudden I have an open source J2EE-certified app server, that's something I'm going to pay attention to."

JBoss, which has had a largely acrimonious relationship with Sun, this week announced plans to formally join Sun's Java Community Process, a move that JBoss officials described as designed to reduce tensions between the two companies.

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