Sun Revises Community Process

BOSTON (06/02/2000) - Responding to concerns from key Java stakeholders, Sun Microsystems plans to announce revisions to its community process for developing new Java technology.

The upgraded Java Community Process (JCP 2.0), to be unveiled at next week's JavaOne Conference in San Francisco, calls for an executive committee to determine which new technology proposals will move forward for further development among working groups. In the past, that decision-making power rested with Sun.

"We're looking for a way to give the community a level of assurance that we're [going] to keep the playing field level and allow others to participate in the process," said George Paolini, adding that the new setup loosely resembles the balance of power in the U.S. government. However, Sun will remain "steward" of Java technology and retain ultimate "veto power" on any changes to the virtual machine, the language and major additions to the platform, he said.

For at least one major Java vendor, that's still too much control in one company's hands.

"While there have been some baby steps improving the JCP process, the bottom line is [Java] still is not an open standard," said Scott Hebner, director of electronic-business marketing at IBM, which has balked at licensing Sun's Java 2 Enterprise Edition. "We believe strongly - as originally committed by Sun - that Java ought to become an open industry standard. By definition, an industry standard is not controlled by a single company."

Last year, Sun abandoned two separate efforts to standardize Java through independent bodies - one through the International Standards Organization and the other through ECMA.

Instead, Sun has continued to tweak its community process for developing Java specifications. The newly appointed executive committee includes IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Apple Computer Inc., Compaq Computer Corp. and Oracle Corp. The first general executive committee elections are slated for this fall.