Thursday, April 10, 2008

Event Report: Sun Labs Open House Showcases Growing Strength In Enterprise Class Tools

Lab days are always a great opportunity to see what's new and what's possible. Sun's event is always no exception and one of the highlights during the year. With 40+ top Sun researchers, fellows, and distinguished engineers in the labs, attendees could feel the passion for innovation in both their infomal one on one demos and formal and talks. A few projects really caught on with trends in virtual worlds and platform/software as a service include:
  • Project Wonderland brings "Second Life" -like tools to the Enterprise. Built on Project Darkstar, a software infrastructure that supports massive scaling for virtual worlds, social networking, and gaming, Project Wonderland, delivers a toolkit for those looking to build 3D virtual worlds. On site, the demos highlighted how unified communications and virtual worlds can come together to deliver colalborative work environments.
During the informal demo, someone from the off-line world could dial in and be represented as an orb that would be escorted to different meeting environments and passed on from room to room as needed. Virtual white boards could be used side to side with other applications that could be shared in a collaborative fashion. Sun internally uses these worlds and dubs it as MPK20, referring to the numbering systems at the Menlo Park campus.
  • Project Caroline provides a scalable platform as a service This project highlights how a GNU General Public License version 2 platform as a service offering can be used to rapidly deploy dynamically scalable Internet based services. Using Java and Perl, a series of enterprise class applications and web services could be hosted and delivered via this platform. The project currently uses a PostgreSQL dB. Though no comment was made about a productized version, insiders noted that MySQL will be supported in future developments and this could lead to productization. T
A host of other projects of interest that have potential to touch on the enterprise software world include:
  • Project Sun SPOT - showcased at last year's event, this experimental platform showcases how Java can be embedded with robotics, wireless sensor, and swarm intelligence technologies. Like many of Sun's new offerings, this one is available as Open Source on and has a lot of great promise work automation and artificial intelligence applications.
  • Project Fortress - this project debuted two years ago as a new programming language for high performance computing (HPC). Released March 31, 2008 as Project Fortress Version 1.0, the first specification of the language is now synched with an implementation. This new programming language shows a lot of promise as software increasingly will rely on HPC and more complex modes of virtualization and Project Fortress could provide a viable option for the Open Source world. Key features include static checking; library based defined languages; implicit paralleism; and flexible, space-ware mathematical syntax.
The bottom line.
Despite repeated reports of the "Sun" setting at this venerable Silicon Valley icon, innovation is alive and well . Software continues to be one of 4 key focus areas. These latest innovations provide insight to what may be possible in a world where Open Source emerges an alternative platform. With the acquisition of BEA by Oracle, Sun could emerge as a strong independent platform for other system integrators, ISV's, and independent minded developers to extend and build solutions on top of. Of course, this would be dependent on Sun's commitment to building tools and a strong ecosystem to provide other innovators and customers who want an independent choice.

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2008 by R Wang. All rights reserved

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