Sun introduces JXTA for peer-to-peer applications

Sun's venture into peer-to-peer networks (P2P) began last summer as the Juxtapose research project, or JXTA under the guidance of Sun co-founder and chief scientist, Bill Joy, to explore distributed computing architectures. The project also got a boost from InfraSearch, a start-up acquired by Sun in March that developed P2P search technology.

Sun now plans to push for standards to better enable P2P development, and possibly, to commercialize its own P2P software and services later this summer. But the decision on how to package and price the software hasn't been made, officials said.

JXTA is available as open-source code under the Apache licensing model at www.jxta.org, a development site hosted by CollabNet Inc. in San Francisco.

The source code helps locate peers and manage low-level interactions between peers on JXTA networks, said Gene Kan, a strategist at Sun and co-founder of InfraSearch.

Sun wants to lead the development of protocols for developing P2P applications, such as file sharing, instant messaging and distributed processing, Kan said.

Using the JXTA core source code, a company could develop an application to parcel out computing tasks to PCs within its peer network or remote PCs via the Web with available processing power, for example.

The JXTA code supports local peer computing networks, as well as Web-based networks. To connect to the Web, at least one peer must have Internet access to connect to remote Web-based peers.

Frank Bernhard, an analyst at Omni Consulting Group LLP in Davis, Calif., said interest in P2P-style applications is on the rise, but so are concerns about security and manageability.

"There is a real high risk to security when peer-to-peer goes outside the corporate firewall," Berhard said. He added that many companies "want to be more conservative in their IT spending, and are looking to new models . . . and their looking to the network as the salvation for sharing resources."

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