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Jini released from its magic lamp

  • February 10, 1999
  • By Kieron Murphy
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Jini's challenges

What do the experts see as the chief obstacles for Jini's acceptance and proliferation?


"Virtual machine deployment must increase significantly."
-- Apu Shah, Boston Technologies


Thomas said the principal hurdle for the technology to clear is the need for Java and Jini-enabled devices to become pervasive.

"You can't rely on Jini until all the different computers and electronic devices actually get Java and Jini installed," she observed. "I think it will be a while before we really see home appliances loaded and ready to go."

Shah concurred: "Virtual machine deployment must increase significantly. There also must be significant support from Java device vendors to realize the dream of Jini."

Rohaly said: "Jini is usable now for serious applications, but the realization of the complete vision will take a while. I don't see obstacles as much as challenges -- areas where the specs have deliberately left the details up to the marketplace and areas which utilize immature technologies, like wireless networking. In many ways this is what you want - it takes time and experience with any technology before you settle on an optimum way of achieving your goals. Sun has given Jini room to grow to fit the needs of the end users."

He added that other "challenges" include the widespread lack of multicast-enabled IP service, at least on wide area networks, and integration with non-IP networks (Firewire, Bluetooth, USB, and so on). "The world is unlikely to be entirely IP based, so bridging and interoperability issues need to be addressed."

Rohaly noted that the major trick for Sun is going to be in partnering and marketing in order to bring the vision to reality. "The technical challenges are minor compared to that. How successful Sun will be remains to be seen, but the cost of entry into Jini is so low that I imagine we will be seeing a lot of Jini-enabled software products in the near future."

Sun's Joy said the company is already well along in its efforts to build a "Jini community" of companies and organizations to define devices and services using the Java language and Jini distributed computing concepts. "There is an enormous amount of interest and much work to do in defining these new devices and services. Getting all this done as quickly as people want will be a challenge."

A Jini community

Asked whether we could expect to see a grassroots movement of developers around Jini in the way Java was backed in its early days, the Seybold Group's Thomas answered: "Absolutely, but I think it will be a smaller community. There are a lot fewer developers out there that write code at the system software level."


"Software services will be deployed first, devices will be slower to show up, but it is inevitable that they will."
-- Tim Rohaly, MageLang Institute


Boston Technologies' Shah noted that Jini has already created an enthusiastic community. "The Jini-users mailing list maintained by Sun enjoys significant traffic, with people from all around the world sharing ideas and thoughts about what Jini is and how it can be applied. I can already see the enthusiasm in postings. Jini facilitates the creation of communities working together spontaneously, remotely sharing information and passing on ideas, be it in software or humans."

MageLang's Rohaly concurred, saying that even though this nascent community has not reached great numbers yet, the early enthusiasts are "operating at a fairly high level."

Rohaly himself may be one of the community's most enthusiastic members. His bottom-line view of the new technology? "Potential for Jini is real; software services will be deployed first, devices will be slower to show up, but it is inevitable that they will. Not much hype here -- just a lot of vision and a good solid technology that is capable of fulfilling that dream."

Jini's leader is just as upbeat about his offering's chances. "We believe Jini can usher in an era of human-centered devices and services, which are simpler and bring 'user delight'," Joy concluded.

Resources

To get in on the action surrounding Jini, there is a users' mail group. To subscribe, post a note to 'listserv@java.sun.com' and type in the body of the message 'subscribe jini-users'. These are folks who are busily putting Jini through its paces as you read this. Then come back to Gamelan to discuss the new technology further in our Java Discussions Forum.

About the author

Kieron Murphy is the editorial manager for EarthWeb. He has previously written for The Java Report, JavaWorld, and IEEE Potentials, among other publications. He can be contacted at: kieron@earthweb.com.







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