IBM, Sun collaborate on Net application architecture
IBM licenses Joe, and Sun licenses IBM's MQ Series class libraries
Under the terms of the agreement, IBM will license Sun's Java client connectivity product, called Joe, which enables users to gain access to existing corporate applications and databases through a Web browser. Sun will license IBM's MQ Series class libraries, which manage the communications between applications running in different computing environments on a network.
"A whole system isn't needed to migrate network computing to the corporate intranet," said Janpieter Scheerder, president of SunSoft. Instead, we need a set of connectivity tools which work across all platforms so that Internet clients can access existing data stores and servers, he continued.
"Joe's role is to connect any Java-based application to any backend," Scheerder said.
Essentially a sophisticated Java applet, Joe is automatically available to users implementing a Java-enabled browser when they choose to download it on an as-needed basis.
"Joe is more a standard than a commercial product, but it's both," said Steven Mills, general manager of software solutions for IBM, who expects most common object request broker architecture (CORBA) vendors to adopt Joe in the coming months. SunSoft said that it is currently in negotiations with other vendors interested in licensing Java, but would not comment further.
Analysts and users see the alliance as a step in the right direction towards interoperability.
"I am very positive that these two large players will define a new standard," said Steve McClure, director of object technologies for International Data Corp. "Any other players in this CORBA connectivity market will be minority players."
"Joe has a lot of potential," said Frank Fabbrocino, a program analyst at UCLA's Data Mining Lab, which has been implementing a beta version of Joe to build multi-dimensional satellite images since March. "While it isn't a mature product yet, it makes accessing CORBA applications really simple," Fabbrocino said.
CICS and Solaris
IBM will also make class libraries freely available to enable Java programmers to access IBM's CICS server, which will be made available on the Sun Solaris operating system by the fourth quarter of this year. The CICS server provides communications and networking management features for heterogeneous networks, including networks combining PCs and mainframes.
The companies will also work together to come up with a common naming convention for their implementations of the Object Management Group's CORBA naming service so that Sun and IBM customers have a consistent way to access information.
"The world is no longer homogeneous. With this alliance, IBM and Sun will ensure interoperation between legacy and newer Internet-derived applications," said Christopher Stone, president and CEO of OMG.
In other news, Sun announced plans to release version 2.0 of its Neo object oriented client server competing software. Neo 2.0, scheduled for release in January 1997, will allow users to link software objects from other vendor environments using the CORBA 2.0 IIOP.
Sun also announced that it will integrate technology developed by IBM's wholly-owned subsidiary, Taligent Inc., into its Java development environment.
Using the Taligent-class libraries, which implement the unicode international character set, developers can create multilingual applications in Java. The libraries also adapt dates, currencies, and numbers to fit a country's format. Among the languages are German and Japanese, as well as English.
Joe is currently available for download on Sun's Web site and
will be bundled commercially with CORBA offerings from IBM in the first
quarter of 1997.
--by Kristi Essick, IDG News Service, San Francisco Bureau
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