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Rich Green, Sun Microsystems' new software chief, thinks his rivals are "hung up" on service oriented architectures (SOA), and are failing to grasp the bigger picture.

In an interview with The Register, Green said that Oracle, IBM, SAP and others are using SOAs to integrate existing components. But the long-term goal should be to connect customers' software infrastructures with new systems and other vendors' products, as they grow.

"People get hung up on the SOA term. [But] it's a point along the way - it's a mid-way point. You have to ask whether you can help customers consolidate and integrate their investments that have grown organically and through acquisition," he said.

"The end state people want is creating more and more secure services that go through the firewall to consumers and other businesses."

Green talked to us ahead of this week's IBM's gargantuan SOA launch. Claiming pole position in SOA, Steve Mills, IBM's software chief, piled on 23 new and updated products plus 11 services to IBM's bulging middleware portfolio. He said 3,000 IBM customers are at "some stage" of an SOA deployment.

Oracle and SAP are furiously building out SOA infrastructures to deliver a unified and consistent development layer, business processes and management environment for their competing, and diverse, middleware and applications portfolios. Oracle has been particularly shrill in attacking SAP, accusing SAP of changing strategy, while SAP has in turn dissed Oracle Fusion for being slideware and too risky for customers.

Sun entered the SOA fray last year's, through the $387m acquisitions of SeeBeyond Technology. It pushes integration through the Java Business Integration (JBI) specification. This consists of a pluggable architecture for elements such as Java Message Service (JMS) to communicate with business rules engines and service assemblies. A Web Services Description Language (WSDL)-based service assembly simplifies SOA by automatically collecting artifacts and services required in a service. JBI is used by Sun and will soon be adopted by Tibco.

Sun's outlook is shaped by SeeBeyond, which is a strong, standards-based data and application integration and composition platform, and boasted a healthy channel and strong customer base pre-dating today's SOA landgrab.

Sun believes it can broaden SeeBeyond's appeal by open sourcing the product, and - the most questionable part of Sun's strategy - putting SeeBeyond on the open source NetBeans IDE for developers. In terms of industry support, NetBeans is getting spanked by Eclipse.

According to Green, Sun's developer focus means it is building a community that can create applications and services for Sun and customers. This will take Sun's integration approach beyond just an Oracle Fusion versus SAP NetWeaver play, he says.

"Part of SeeBeyond on NetBeans is an abstracted composition environment to create business-to-business 'solutions. That is shipping now - and more is coming. Everybody else is late," he proclaimed. ®

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