Sun Aims Java At Health Care And Education Markets

Sun CEO McNealy, in JavaOne keynote, also confirms plans to acquire EAI software vendor SeeBeyond Technology.
Sun Microsystems is trying to expand the Java Community Process to include software developers in the education and health-care fields to "close the digital divide," chairman and CEO Scott McNealy said in a speech at Sun's JavaOne conference in San Francisco Tuesday.

McNealy also disclosed Sun's agreement early Tuesday to acquire SeeBeyond Technology Corp. for $387 million in cash. SeeBeyond makes enterprise application integration software that lets companies combine programs written for different computer platforms--including Java applications--into automated processes. Its customers include General Motors Corp. and Pfizer Inc.

"This is not a stunt acquisition," McNealy said. "We have a little bit of a hole integrating our own Web-services stack," and Sun's customers need help with application integration as well. SeeBeyond is entering the health-care market, where Sun is also active, McNealy noted.

Sun's Java programming language and business software built with it can underpin new applications in health-care and educational markets that can get more people online, improving care and instruction, said McNealy. "If you're not online, if you're not participating, if you're not connected, you're at a huge disadvantage," he said. The Java Community Process, a technology industry group that legislates changes to Java, "can be expanded and evolved to close the digital divide." McNealy cited Brazilian National Health Systems and the Global Education Learning Community, a software development project for online curriculum and assessment tools, as examples of groups developing innovative Java software.

In the health-care market, McNealy said better computer systems can reduce paperwork and errors. "I don't think there's any industry more screwed up than the computer industry except health care, which eventually kills us all," he said.

The Java Community Process now includes 912 members. "We absolutely underhyped what this technology was going to do," said McNealy. On Monday, Sun released as open-source software its Java application server, and said other products would follow. May marked the 10th anniversary of Sun's release of Java, which has attracted the largest number of developers in the shortest amount of time of any computer language.