Sun Plans JXTA 2.1 Debut At JavaOne


Mulls P2P code in N1, Sun ONE, StarOffice


Sun Microsystems is expected to announce at JavaOne the release of an update to its JXTA peer-to-peer protocol and framework for collaboration.

JXTA 2.1, to be formally announced next week, incorporates new features, including enhanced performance, peer group access control services and a metering and monitoring framework, sources said. Version 2.0 launched in March. (See online story.).

Version 2.1 also features a new monitor GUI tool, improved robustness and reliability, and support for JXTA sockets and bidirectional pipes, which will enhance P2P networking, sources said.

Project JXTA is an open-source initiative funded by Sun and devoted to developing P2P protocols and a collaboration framework for Java. Originally incubated at Sun by chief scientist Bill Joy, the peer-to-peer protocols in JXTA (for "JuXTApose") allow any connected device to communicate with another peer--a cell phone with a PDA, for example, or a PC with a network server.

The access control service in JXTA 2.1 will enable users to assign access control rights for one peer, whether a desktop or mobile device, and to communicate with another peer, Project JXTA participants said.

"Prior to the 2.1 release, there was no generic access control service shipped with the JXTA stack, and everyone had to write their own," said Gerry Seidman, a member of the JXTA Project and CEO of Internet Access Methods, a Java consulting firm and ISV in New York. "[The service] will be used to determine whether or not a given peer trying to communicate with a service or file has the rights to do so."

In addition, JXTA 2.1 will help developers write applications and services that can be metered and monitored. That framework is considered essential as on-demand, utility-based computing moves into the mainstream, Seidman said.

While JXTA 2.1 is considered a minor update to version 2.0, which became available this spring, observers say the enhancements will make it much easier for developers and solution providers to include P2P capabilities in their Java applications and Web services implementations.

Sources close to the company said that Sun, for instance, quietly plans to integrate JXTA support into its future N1 platform and possibly Solaris/Sun ONE stack. They also claim that Sun is considering integrating JXTA collaboration features into its StarOffice suite. Sun, which has developed reference implementations of JXTA for J2SE and J2ME, would neither comment on JXTA 2.1 nor its plans for integrating JXTA into its product line.

In the Windows world, developers have access to Groove Networks' P2P APIs and platform and are awaiting integration of P2P technologies into Windows XP later this year and in the next Windows Longhorn release..

While instant messaging has been the killer P2P business application during the past year or so, the emergence of JXTA and Groove's P2P APIs have paved the way for more complex corporate applications such as transactional Web services and interactive collaboration features in productivity applications.

A handful of Java ISVs are integrating JXTA into their applications and Web services, and they intend to implement version 2.1.

Internet Access Methods, for example, plans to integrate the JXTA 2.1 communication layer into its free JXTA Development Kit and IAM-Developing 2.5, a commercial application that allows multiple Java developers to work collaboratively on the same source files.

Another JXTA software developer, Newcastle, Wash.-based InView Software, will integrate JXTA 2.l code into its Momentum P2P application in a future release, executives said. Momentum, which allows users to create shared workspaces, share files, exchange messages and simultaneously edit shared documents, runs on Windows currently. At JavaOne next week, InView will unveil a Linux version that will allow Linux users and StarOffice users to have the same P2P capabilities.

"Before JXTA, we built an ASP model application because there was nothing else, and the only other set of APIs out there was Groove," said Tom Brubaker, president and CEO of InView. "This extends customer investment in desktops because office users can find each other, share workspaces and content, and collaborate without additional hardware and software. For us, JXTA is a key communications component."

VistaPortal, a Lexington, Mass.-based ISV, uses JXTA to extend Web services to the enterprise through intelligent P2P portals. The company's JXTA-based Visa Repository allows corporate customers to display data and information from multiple sources on distributed peer computers through various P2P queries, reporting and charting tools over the Web.

One VistaPortal executive said the company is working with the Department of Defense to investigate the use of JXTA for network-centric warfare in which forces connect different types of devices in the field without a centralized server.

And the company currently has a pilot test going with the Coast Guard to create a virtual repository that allows mobile devices and desktops to access multiple data sources including flat files, XML and relational databases. "It's a P2P platform based on JXTA that allows you to hook up major databases and/or any types of data source from any geographical location," said Gail Raynus, COO and vice president of professional services at VistaPortal.

Some solution providers acknowledged the availability of JXTA but said Sun's existing collaboration technologies are sufficient for corporate needs today.

"Today, for collaboration, we've developed solutions for many of our Sun ONE clients using Sun ONE Portal 6 and the Instant Collaboration Pack," said Curt Stevenson, co-founder and vice president of business development at Back Bay Technologies, a Boston-based Sun solution provider. "As Portal 6 becomes part of [Project] Orion in the future, this will become even more attractive."