Sun Microsystems is readying a major upgrade to its Jini networking technology for release at its JavaOne developer conference being held in San Francisco next month, sources close to the company said.
The Jini Starter Kit 2.0 is expected to include a brand-new security model that will allow servers and devices running Jini to decide whether code downloaded from elsewhere in a network is trust-worthy. Also expected is a new implementation of Java RMI (Remote Method Invocation), called Jini Extensible Remote Invocation (JERI), which should help Jini programs to better interoperate with other, non-Jini applications, according to sources familiar with Sun's plans.
Starter Kit 2.0 is also expected to include new utility classes, new versions of Jini's discovery protocols, and a new service runner framework, the sources said.
Sun declined to comment on its plans for any unannounced products.
When Jini was first released in 1999, Sun positioned it as a way to enable a futuristic plug-and-play world where a variety of networked devices -- everything from toasters to printers -- would be able to automatically discover and communicate with each other. Sun's vision of a Jini-enabled living room failed to materialize, in part because Internet-enabled devices were slow to take off, and the technology has failed to achieve the broad level of industry support Sun had hoped for, observers said.
"I think the reason for the slow adoption of Jini has more to do with how it was marketed than the technology itself," said Jini developer Frank Sommers, whose company, Autospaces, has used Jini to automate the management of an automotive inventory system for car dealers.
Because of its early market positioning, Sommers said, Jini is not supported by as many enterprise-level products and tools as it could be.
"The best support that someone could come up with would be an application server that would be based on Jini," he said.
Jini Senior Product Marketing Manager Jennifer Kotzen said that while Sun has not integrated Jini into any of its products, it still holds promise as a means of administering network nodes that may not easily be reachable -- things such as cell phones or computer sensor equipment on the ocean floor.
And while Kotzen said Jini's Internet-enabled device story remained "exciting," she added that it was "definitely not" the only place the networking software would be used. According to Kotzen, Jini also holds promise in areas like utility computing and dynamic networking, where Jini could be used to help add or remove servers from, say, a grid compute farm.
"The types of applications [using Jini] have expanded significantly," she said.
Kotzen declined to say whether Sun plans to incorporate Jini anywhere in its product line.
While Jini adoption may have been slow, developers have not abandoned the platform. Over the last year, approximately 100 commercial ISVs have been working with members of Jini's 150,000-strong developer community on the next major release of the Jini specification, code-named the Davis release. Available in beta form Thursday from Sun's Jini.org Web site, Davis is expected to form the basis of Sun's Jini Starter Kit 2.0., according to documents posted on that site.