Sun Debuts Java Studio Enterprise 8 In Shadow of Eclipse

As Microsoft unveiled its long awaited Visual Studio 2005 earlier this week, Sun announced a significant upgrade of its Java Studio Enterprise at JavaOne Tokyo on Wednesday.

Sun Java Studio Enterprise 8, built on the company's NetBeans 4.1 IDE, offers numerous benefits including enhanced Unified Modeling Language (UML) support, real-time collaboration, new mobile and wireless features, integrated load testing and support for Solaris 10. It is available free to all registered developers on the Sun Developer Network.

NetBeans 4.1 was announced last May. To date, Sun claims more than 4.5 million copies of the open source IDE have been downloaded since the Sun-sponsored open source project debuted in 2000.

Still, several Sun partners are moving to Eclipse development platform. They are also betting that open source middleware stacks such as JBoss will crush Sun's commercial and open source implementations of the Java Enterprise System.

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"There's no Java Studio, everything is Eclipse now. We have moved exclusively to Eclipse. We have moved to Apache/JBoss/Tomcat for infrastructure software as a service offerings," said Doug Nassaur, president of True North Technologies, a former Sun partner in Alpharetta, Ga. "We have also moved off messaging and file sharing to open source alternatives and are evaluating a database move as well."

Another Sun iForce partner who declined to be named said he personally uses Java Studio but most of his colleagues use Eclipse, IntelliJ or OracleJ developer. He, too, is concerned about the lack of uptake of Sun's development and middleware platforms and is considering other platforms, including Oracle.

"It's not as much as we'd hoped for. There are some big longtime customers who find it cost effective to take on the whole [Sun] stack but it hasn't taken off with many new customers," said the executive of the Sun partner. "We're not abandoning [Sun's] stack but we&'re focusing investing in other partnerships and trying to build up other strengths. It's a natural diversification."

Although the future for both partners is Eclipse and alternative middleware stacks, they still consider themselves Sun's go-to partners in areas where there is growth.

True North, for example, continues to operate a healthy network ID and cross directory integration and synchronization services business based on Sun's JES platform.

Arrow Electronics indicated that Sun's server business growth this year is double what was originally forecast. Originally, executives expected growth at between 3 percent and 4 percent in line with the past two years, but is seeing growth upwards of between 6 percent and 7 percent.

Innovativ, another Sun iForce partner based in Edison, N.J., will stick with Sun Java Studio as long as its JES identity access business remains strong.

"We use Java Studio and will migrate to future versions. We will migrate because we are a Sun partner, not because it's best in class," said Gerard McGowan, vice president of technology and services for Innovativ. "Our [Sun] identity business is booming — we will do millions in identity work this year."

Yet at least one market research firm declared Eclipse the winner in the Java tools market race.

"The battle to be the leading development tools integration framework — at least, outside the Microsoft sphere of influence — is over, and Eclipse has won, even if some vendors have not yet conceded," a report issued by Forrester Research stated. "What started as grassroots adoption of a free and flexible IDE has quickly become the most widespread Java development environment and is beginning to spread across the rest of the application development lifecycle."