Hewlett-Packard (HP) laid its Java cards firmly on the table at its annual user conference this week, when it gave its first wholehearted commitment to support the language.
HP has until now quietly endorsed Java from the sidelines, without participating actively in the hype or clarifying its Java strategy.
But the hardware vendor was careful to point out that it would not take sides against close ally, Microsoft, in the 'keep Java pure' debate, even though the software giant has been widely accused of trying to sabotage the whole Java effort for its own ends.
Rick Belluzzo, executive vice president of HP's computer organisation, said the firm?s strategy was to ?embrace and add value? to Java because it was interested in meeting users? needs rather than supporting industry factions.
HP would continue to operate a two-pronged operating system strategy, he added, and would continue to support its own Unix variant, HP/UX and Microsoft?s Windows NT, because this was a ?realistic? policy in a heterogeneous world.
But he said he saw Java as a means of making IT more pervasive. ?Information and computing power will be as readily available as utilities?, he said. ?You will notice [IT?s] absence, not its presence. That?s where IT?s heading.?
As a result, HP will enhance the five core elements of its business - systems, imaging, software infrastructure, services and solutions, and distributed printing - to support the idea of the extended enterprise. This means an Internet-based infrastructure that will enable organisations to re-engineer the way they do business.
The supplier is currently working on a pocket-sized, handheld Web server that runs Java and is now at the prototyping stage. Although no release dates were given, Beluzzo described the device as suitable for the dream of the extended enterprise.
Other Java-related initiatives include enhancing the language by means of HP?s own Just-In-Time compiler and enabling Java to handle remote printing, so information can be transferred electronically, but printed only when it reaches the intended recipient.
HP said it was also working on making its object request broker work better with Java-based applets and applications.
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