As Sun's JavaOne Conference begins this week, native integration between Java and Microsoft .net seems as far away as ever, despite the technology alliance between the two suppliers, which is now over a year old.
The two companies have delivered very little to users so far, although both companies insist that much work is going on behind the scenes.
They have co-operated on specifications to enable interoperability for web single sign-on and systems management, and said they will implement these in future products, but no timeframe has been given. Sun has also added a Microsoft desktop protocol to its Sun Ray products that allows them to access Windows applications.
Gartner vice-president John Pescatore said, "Over a year has passed since Microsoft and Sun agreed to stop battling and work together for the common good. From a security perspective, this spirit of togetherness has led to a minor reduction in the effort needed to deploy authentication and authorisation across mixed Solaris/Windows environments. But Gartner has not seen major movement forward.
"If they were really applying significant resources and attention to producing less complex and more secure computing environments - as asserted in their 2004 co-operation announcement - we believe concrete results would have been produced by now; not just promises for what will happen in a year or two," said Pescatore.
Forrester principal analyst Frank Gillett said Sun had taken many steps to add or expand interoperability with Microsoft technology, such as offering AMD-based Opteron servers certified to run Windows; building support into Solaris for Windows file, print, and authentication via Samba; and shipping Star Office on four operating systems.
Sun has also enabled storage system support for Windows file systems, delivered Java Enterprise System support for Outlook clients and supported XML and web services.
But in terms of dealing with the core differences between Java/J2EE and .net, Gillett said, "Even though customers would value programming model interoperability, Microsoft and Sun have little incentive to pursue this goal. Microsoft and Sun have never committed to J2EE-.net interoperability, a politically charged topic that would likely wreck their partnership.
"Java/J2EE/.net interoperability is a job for the JCP [Java Community Process], not the Microsoft-Sun partnership. Sun may say it speaks for the Java community, but in fact it often does not. IBM, and increasingly Oracle, SAP and open source developers in Apache and Eclipse would have to be included in any programming model interoperability work, and they can be within the JCP."
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