IBM and BEA Systems last week disclosed that they are working jointly on three new specifications for the Java platform.
The new specifications — Service Data Objects, Work Manager for Application Servers, and Timer for Applications Servers — are all designed to increase much-needed application portability between IBM’s WebSphere and BEA’s WebLogic application servers.
“We both have been innovating in a number of areas around Java APIs, and developers have been looking for commonality.,” said Scott Dietzen, CTO of BTA.
Executives at both companies said they do not expect to deliver products that take advantage of the new specifications for about a year; they are releasing the necessary technical information now so that developers have time to digest it.
Sun Microsystems and Oracle, however, have yet to pledge support for the proposed standards. Some observers believe IBM and BEA will ruffle some feathers because the new standards should go first through the Java Community Process (JCP).
“It will be interesting to see how this is perceived in the context of it being a departure from the Java Community Process. I think there may be some vendors who will be unhappy with this,” said Stephen O’Grady, a senior analyst at RedMonk.
Dietzen said the companies plan to formally present the proposed specifications, which will be royalty free, to the JCP.
Perhaps the most important of the three standards is Service Data Objects. It provides a unifying programming model for data from heterogeneous data sources, such as relational databases and Web services. It offers a simpler programming model and supports best-practice application design patterns.
“This is the one that will address a difficult problem the object-oriented world has been dealing with for some time. We have spent years building different frameworks that all continue to evolve. It is a significant piece of work that will help J2EE standards and our users,” said Rod Smith, vice president of IBM’s Internet and emerging technologies.
The Work Manager for Application Servers supports concurrent execution of work items. It enables J2EE-based applications, including servlets and EJBs to better schedule multiple work items to be carried out simultaneously for increased throughput and application response time.
The Timer for Applications Servers also offers a simpler API but for setting timers in an application server-supported way. This makes it possible for J2EE-based applications to schedule future timer notifications and also to receive those notifications.
Also last week, in a separate development related to Java, a group headed by Oracle and Sun formed the JTC (Java Tools Community) whose charter is to make Java more interoperable through tool frameworks and open standards. Just as Oracle and Sun have yet to endorse the IBM-BEA Java standards, IBM and BEA have not advocated the JTC.
“We are still in the evaluation phase. We will probably make a decision on that soon. I think the effort we [IBM and BEA] have underway now is more significant for Java and the J2EE standard,” Smith said.