They're at it again. Shades of the competitive Java wars are peeking through. This time, Sun Microsystems Inc. (NASDAQ:SUNW) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) are duking it out over the nascent, but undoubtedly lucrative Web services market at the Sun Service on Demand Summit in Santa Clara, Calif. and the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles this week, respectively.
Indeed, with .NET already well outlined for the world earlier this year, Palo Alto, Calif.'s Sun finally drew the curtain on its own strategy to help enterprises make better use of their assets by pulling together data that can be accessed by people to "provide information, data and applications to anyone, anytime, anywhere, on any device."
Just what can the concept of Web services do for the enterprise? Gartner Inc. believes quite a bit, eventually. The market research firm said that by 2005 wWeb services will drive a 30 percent increase in the efficiency of information technology development projects that use them aggressively for functionality inclusion.
Sun's Open Net Environment, or SunONE, was introduced Tuesday by President and Chief Operating Officer Ed Zander, who served as keynote for Sun's summit. In a bullish sales pitch, Zander opened up the keynote by calling for the business world to cast aside worries about the stock market to focus on "new products and new architectures that come from what customers are telling us they want and need."
He proceeded to describe the evolution of Sun's next-generation capabilities from such software as its leading Solaris and Java programs, noting several times that Sun's goal was to attack the value chain to help enterprises increase return-of-assets (ROA) for existing capital and bolster IT assets. Zander talked of challenges met and challenges still to come, including how to make them interoperable and get people to accept them.
But for all of the pomp, SunONE really comes down to improving Internet services while minimizing costs by eliminating the need to replace a business's operating environment. Zander and Co. went on to introduce the following: a Sun ONE Starter Kit; the iPlanet Portal Server, which features collaborative instant messaging; and generally, the opportunity for customers to take advantage of Sun's open architecture with SunONE via compatibility with SOAP, XML and all of Sun's languages, tools and programs such as Java, Solaris and Forte.
And there is numerous support -- about 25 systems integrators and independent service vendors and over 30 partners have pledged allegiance to the initiative.
Speaking confidently about SunONE, Zander claimed: "No one else offers this approach. The options are clear -- an open, integratable solution as part of a complete end-to-end solution, such as Sun ONE, or face complexity and closed options, which in time will restrict your opportunities for growth and integration."