Sun Microsystems? John Gage predicted a future with ?billions of devices that find each other spontaneously on the Net? in his keynote speech at Internet World in New York today.
Bill Joy, Sun's vice president of research joined the director of Sun's science office on stage to say that, for more than 40 years, the computer industry had been dominated by a scenario, where a PC would look for its hard disk when it was booted up and complain if it could not find it.
Joy compared the situation to a cellphone that needed to check the network before it could be used, and argued that software has become too complex, making it unreliable.
But, Joy is also co-chairman of the Information Technology Advisory Committee, which advises US President Bill Clinton on issues such as high performance computing and the next-generation Internet.
The Committee issued an interim report to the president in August, advocating more federal investment in component-based software.
As a result, Joy argued that the industry needed to move to a distributed computing model based on ?agents?. Sun's Java and Jini technologies would provide the perfect underpinnings for the model, of course, he added, by creating ?a community of objects and agents on the Web.?
Another technology that was key to this vision was Bluetooth, he continued, a wireless local area network that is being developed by a consortia of companies headed by Intel.
Bluetooth would replace a tangle of wires, and Jini eliminate the need to install specific software drivers, which means that users could share information seamlessly between their computers, cellphones, personal organisers and new types of consumer devices, Gage explained.
Gage described the situation as ?the singles bar model of computing?, where temporary match-ups occur ?that seem to make sense at the moment?.
Jini is a Java-based protocol that enables devices to advertise their services on the network to other devices. While it will be free for non-commercial users when it ships in December, vendors wanting to use it commercially must pay Sun a licensing fee.
In a clear reference to Sun?s ongoing licensing dispute with Microsoft over Java, Joy said that Jini's licensing agreement had been carefully crafted so that ?if someone breaks the rules, we can get a restraining order faster?.
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