Sun Microsystems made good today on its promise to deliver a Java-based network-interconnect technology. Called Jini, the software promises to let any type of device--in particular non-PC devices such as printers, handhelds, or set-top boxes--connect to a network architecture from any location.
Jini uses a Java virtual machine so different devices can connect to a network regardless of their software or hardware base. "There's not only data communication between two machines, but now there's code going between two machines," says Emily Suter, business development manager of the Jini group at Sun.
Vendors such as Cisco, Computer Associates, IBM, Novell, and 3Com Palm Computing today voiced their support for the technology and are expected to preview their Jini-based devices shortly. Products should begin shipping as early as December 1999.
While the potential for Jini is enormous, there's a long way to go before it becomes a standard networking architecture, according to Mike West, an analyst with Gartner Group. West says vendors will need to push out infrastructure devices before users will be able to take advantage of the more glamorous tools being touted by Sun. "The devices being developed by the other vendors need to be there before you have all the hardware connected," West says. "Then you can convince the application developers to get moving on this stuff."
Jini is being distributed under Sun's newly developed Community Source License program. Under the program, Jini can be downloaded at no charge to users looking to deploy the technology internally or develop products, but licensing fees apply once developers start selling Jini-based products.