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Joy Announces JXTA

by Richard Koman

SAN FRANCISCO, February 15 -- Keynoting at the O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer Conference this morning, Bill Joy, Unix pioneer and Sun chief scientist, announced Sun's JXTA initiative to provide basic infrastructure services for P2P applications.

"Using systems design principles, we have a view of how to consolidate (many P2P efforts) to provide a platform for interoperability, so that applications can build on top of that."

JXTA is an open source project, said Joy. It will be released under the Apache license, and Sun will use collab.net to "help us put this together."

"We're working on finishing some crufty code that implements some of the concepts we've been working on," Joy said. That code is expected to be ready in April, at which time Sun will host an online conference. Developers interested in participating should send mail to jxta@sun.com

In a post-keynote discussion with Tim O'Reilly, CEO of O'Reilly & Associates, and key members of the JXTA team, project manager Mike Clary explained the scope of the project: "We have come up with a set of primitives to provide interesting services in the p2p space. We want to provide minimal mechanisms by which people can further innovate." Clary described four mechanisms planned for JXTA:

  • Being able to pipe from one peer to another;
  • Being able to group a set of peers together, and create groups of groups;
  • Doing monitoring and metering -- how do we know what's going on, how do we institute a policy across peers?;
  • and a security layer.

In the panel discussion, Joy emphasized his intent to build security into JXTA on the front end. "In the short term, you can do a lot of stuff without security. In the long term, you need to design thinking through security and anonymity up front. We're committed to doing security up front and if it takes us longer, so be it. Success will depend on doing security in a proper way."

Asked by O'Reilly whether JXTA is part of Sun's corporate strategy or a contribution to the emerging Internet operating system, Joy responded: "We have some distributed applications we'd like to build. In order to build them, we need some of these things from JXTA to be successful. I'd like the platform to be simple. It would be great if people would work with us -- and we can build an operating system platform together."

Joy offered a parting shot at Microsoft's .NET. "The difference between us and Microsoft is we're not trying to do something infinitely complicated. Yes, this will be part of Sun ONE at some point, but one of the simplest pieces. We're looking for some elemental distributed computing pieces." Joy said that while you'll be able to use other programming languages with JXTA, "the real benefits will come when you use Java and XML together."

Richard Koman is a freelancer writer and editor based in Sonoma County, California. He works on SiliconValleyWatcher, ZDNet blogs, and is a regular contributor to the O'Reilly Network.

Related Articles:

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Somthing's Happening Here

Lessons from Napster

Notes from the "Dimensions of P2P" round table

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