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Sun Roundly Refutes IBM and Microsoft Web Services Jibes
Sun Roundly Refutes IBM and Microsoft Web Services Jibes
By: Java News Desk
Jan. 1, 2000 12:00 AM
(April 26, 2002) - Sun Microsystem's chief technology evangelist, Simon Phipps, speaking exclusively to the JDJ News Desk, commented extensively - and combatively - on the latest jibes from Microsoft Corp's Charles Fitzgerald and IBM's Bob Sutor, alleging that Sun - which still remains outside the Web Services Interoperability Organization - is to all intents and purposes also out of the Web services race itself.
JDJ: The San Francisco Chronicle recently said, of the Web services space: "To an outsider, observing this market must be a little like watching Spock play that 3-D board game on the original Star Trek. You can tell it's chess, but you can't figure out whether either side is actually getting any closer to winning." Are IBM and Microsoft right when they say that they are opening up a gap between themselves and Sun?
Phipps: One thing that I do want to stop people from doing is just picking up the line that was created by Bob Sutor and Neil Charney from IBM and Microsoft respectively, that keeps on saying that Sun was in some way slow to adopt Web services. I'm getting tired of that because it's just not defensible, if you just go back to the evidence.
Sun was the company that coined the phrase, "The network is the computer." It was the company that built basic technologies that allowed Web services into Java in 1995. Sun was at the first meeting of the working group to which SOAP was submitted, at W3C. In the summer of 2000, we were providing engineers to the same project that IBM was contributing engineers to, to get SOAP established in Apache. IBM approached us to be one of the co-submitters of WSDLs - they didn't think we were such laggards back in those days. This whole angle is a reinvention of history, by an inexplicable Microsoft/IBM axis that's trying to make Sun look as if it isn't involved. And that just isn't true.
MS's Fitzgerald Is Contradicting Himself, Says Phipps
JDJ: Yet Microsoft's Charles Fitzgerald seems to be suggesting in no uncertain terms that, so to speak, Sun is shooting with blanks...
Phipps: Charles has obviously read this stuff, and thinks it's true for some reason. The stuff he has been saying is totally indefensible although very intriguing. One of the most amusing is the fact that he accuses Sun of calling Web services 'smoke and mirrors,' and hype, and in the same interview he talks about Microsoft being worried that Web services won't take off in time before the public gets bored, saying that there's too much hype, essentially saying that Microsoft thinks Web services is all smoke, mirrors, and hype at the moment.
JDJ: Is Microsoft dismissing Sun as a serious Web services contender?
Phipps: That's what they're trying to say, but the evidence doesn't support their assertion. They're frightened, actually. I think for the first time they've really recognized that Sun is a force to be reckoned with. We have a coherent architecture in Sun ONE, which is being greeted by all the analysts I've read as a huge step forward, and we have product on all the points of the architecture, unlike .NET, which still is at best 80% complete. We're starting from where our customers are. If you are a J2EE customer, all you have to do is add a few lines of code to your existing EJBs and they become Web services, whereas Microsoft has got you having to learn a whole new programming architecture, programming language, a set of programming tools, and install new servers.
JDJ: Fitzgerald had accused Sun ONE's program as being "a case of new name, same old rubbish."
Phipps: Fitzgerald had heard, but not bothered to read, the assertions that Sun was in some way behind in Web services, which clearly is not the case. The motivation of IBM and Microsoft in wanting to position us that way is something we ought to be asking questions about. When I switched from IBM to Sun in 2000, IBM and Sun held pretty much identical views on SOAP in particular and on Web services in general. This drift in perception is one that has been fostered by IBM in the period since. For Charles to assert it is just plain untrue.
"WebSphere Is...an Unholy Broth of Existing Products"
JDJ: How does Sun view the WebSphere platform - is it a dangerous competitor?
Phipps: WebSphere is in some ways a good thing. It is at least a J2EE server. So it's actually using the standards that the industry has chosen for itself. So from that perspective, it is something that Sun is pleased to see IBM providing. However, WebSphere still has an unholy broth of preexisting products that it is trying to force-fit into the same brand. So you say "WebSphere," but actually WebSphere is a loose and disconnected set of products and all the different platforms that exist. IBM is still only midway in its program of trying to force-fit those into an architecture. Sun is further along because we made the products fit first and changed the brands afterwards.
JDJ:What is your own reaction to Microsoft's criticisms of Sun's recent rebranding of products to the Sun ONE platform?
Phipps: It's pretty rich for a company like Microsoft that has throughout its history rebranded its marketing efforts around existing products. Look at COM and COM+, they were a rebranding of OLE. .NET was a rebranding of COM+. If you actually look at what .NET is, it's a rebranding of a product which itself was a rebranding of previous set of products which itself was a rebranding of a previous set of products. What Microsoft does is that every time their products get discredited, they rebrand it and hope people will forget. And sadly, people do. Now what we've done at Sun, we've been strong supporters of the idea of network and of the computer, and of letting companies deliver services on demand.
And Web services is a great technology for delivering services on demand inside your enterprise. Consequently we've been strong supporters of it since the spring of 2000. We were contemporaries of Microsoft and IBM in getting into this. Any assertion by Microsoft to the contrary is at best misleading and at worst untrue and requiring a retraction.
"The only people who are not winning with Java are Microsoft."
To come back to Charles's comments and put them into perspective, all of the analysts, the customers I speak to, the voice of history, would all suggest that Charles's talking out of the side of his face. It's not true to say we've been slow into Web services, we've been in from day one. It's not true to say that Sun ONE is all the old stuff. Sun ONE is a coherent architecture for creating Web services on demand.
His comments about Java are fascinating as well. He seems to think that Java can only be a success if only Sun profits from it. Now that's very Microsoft thinking. Java is obviously a success. We wouldn't have over three-quarters of developers using it for Web services if that wasn't the case. But Java is a marketplace. It's not like .NET where the only people who will ever profit are Microsoft. We are very profitable, thank you, and so are our big partners. We regard that fact that IBM and BEA can profit from Java as a mark of its success, not as a mark of our failure.
Charles's mindset is that, 'We have only won if they have lost.' And we don't think that way. We're in a different world. We're in a world where we have won and they have won, too, because we're both being profitable. The only people who are not winning with Java are Microsoft.
JDJ: And Microsoft is not very happy about that?
Phipps: That's their problem. They chose to engage in a way that was violating a contract they had with us and settled out of court on the basis of that. That's their problem, not ours.
The majority of players in the marketplace are using Java today, providing their customers with choice. The key to Sun ONE is choice. Sun ONE is all about providing our customers with the products that they need to do their Web services right now, at every level of the implementation giving them a choice of what vendor to use because we're using open standards. For customers who decide to use Sun ONE, at every level there is a choice of vendors; it's not just Sun. Maybe Microsoft thinks that's a failure as well. Maybe they think it's a failure for us to have come up with an architecture that leaves choice in the hands of our customers.
JDJ: But the reason your customers choose Sun is that they want this choice...
Phipps: That's what we hear from our customers, loud and clear, is that they want the best of both worlds. They say that they want an integrated stack of products for solving their problems, just like Microsoft produces, but they say they want an open choice of which vendor is delivering parts to the solution. What Sun provides in Sun ONE is a stack of products so you can do one-stop shopping, but also choice at every step. In Sun ONE, Sun has a single brand for an integrated stack of products that nonetheless leaves choice in the hands of its customers.
All of the attempts by Charles and by Bob Sutor from IBM and by Neil Charney from Microsoft to paint Sun as a laggard, I believe, shout their fear at our success loud and clear, because the voice of history doesn't say the same thing as the voices of Microsoft and IBM.
Come and hear Simon Phipps at Web Services Edge 2002 East - International Web Services Conference & Expo Set to be the Single Largest Web Services, Java, XML, and .NET Event in the World
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