Sun is expected to open a new chapter in the Java story next month when it unveils details of a strategy dubbed the service-driven network.
According to analysts, the strategy could ease the burden of IT departments developing Java-based e-business applications. Last November, the SSP/Computer Weekly skills survey found that Java had become the most sought-after development language in the UK.
Based on the fruits of a two-year, research project called Brazil, Sun's service-driven network appears to follow similar lines to Microsoft's .net strategy, announced last June.
The Brazil framework is analogous to .net's Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol) architecture. A paper on the Sun Web site describes the technology as a toolkit of reusable Java components that can be accessed over the Web.
In the paper, Stephen Uhler, lead architect on the Brazil project, said, "In our vision, Web servers will be augmented by meta-servers." These so-called meta-servers, he said, would be able to pull in Web-based content from various sources.
Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research, said the strategy could eventually lower the technical expertise barrier into Java development.
"Today, Java is an expensive skill to have in-house. If [Java] components could be linked together easily, developing Java applications would be simplified," he said.
Another development from earlier Sun strategies is the emphasis on security, Lock said.
For instance, according to Sun, the design goal is to provide "a strong authentication architecture" which it claims will allow extranets to access intranets without compromising security.
But in the short to medium term the Sun initiative poses a problem as compatibility with alternative Web service architectures is likely to be some way off, said Lock.