Sun Microsystems has unveiled Juxtapose, its peer-to-peer protocol and strategy. Sun posted the protocol on the Internet, at http://www.jxta.org. At the site, there's a development shell, instructions, and code to become a member of a peer-to-peer network.
With Juxtapose, users of and coders for Windows-, Unix-, and Macintosh-based software can find other nodes on a peer-to-peer network, name them, group them, and join one of them. The aim is to limit the scope to people who have the same interests as the user. By next year, according to Sun, people can become members of groups using Juxtapose-compliant wireless devices. ASP CollabNet Inc. will be providing Juxtapose users, developers, and engineers with the development tools, framework, and services for application development.
As the Juxtapose community grows, Sun hopes, companies will be able to do the work of a supercomputer using a peer-to-peer network of smaller computers over the Internet. Sun has worked in this direction since the mid-'90s. The Unix vendor hopes to weaken Intel's and Microsoft's grip on the client portion of the Internet infrastructure. Sun envisions a peer-to-peer application development framework incorporating Sun's Java that won't lock companies into a single system such as Windows 2000 or its own Solaris operating system. Sun is betting on a long-term growth of information on the Internet that will create a larger pie for its server and storage sales.
Sun is just accepting that computing isn't fixed anymore, says industry analyst Joyce Becknell at Aberdeen Group. Long term, Becknell says, Sun is evolving toward distributed intelligence, with any node on the network acting as client or server. "Near term, there's a lot of noise and Sun is firing out buzzwords as fast and effectively as they can," she says. "But there aren't a lot of concrete products yet."