Sun's ISO Application Progresses
July 16, 1997 - Sun Microsystems' application to submit its Java[tm] technologies into the international standards process is progressing.
To date, the member countries of ISO's information technology body (JTC-1) have considered Sun's application and offered comments. The next step calls for Sun to develop responses to the comments and provide a formal response within 60 days.
"Almost all of the votes received have been qualified with comments," said Lisa Rajchel of ANSI, the U.S. member of ISO, during a telephone briefing for the news media on Tuesday, July 15. "This is not the end of the process. This is the middle."
At the same media briefing, Sun Vice President Jim Mitchell said he remains "cautiously optimistic" that Sun will succeed in its ultimate goal of having Java accepted as an international standard.
Sun's goal has always been to have Java, already a de facto international standard, codified as a de jure standard in a way that preserves the industry's huge investment in Java. Java is already part of the DNA of most companies doing business on the Internet, and official standardization is an important step to ensure that governments and corporations which require standardized technologies in their procurement policies are free to include Java.
Java is creating whole new industries, and Sun believes that everyone must cooperate around standards to grow those industries. Sun's entire philosophy is to grow the pie for everyone, which enables Sun, and others, to grow their businesses together.
For more details on the PAS process, please see the attached Q&A. We will keep these pages updated as new information is available over the coming months.
Thanks for your interest in this groundbreaking process.
Sun's ISO Application Progresses - Q&AQ: What's the history of this application?
In March of this year, Sun applied to become a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) submitter to ISO/IEC's Joint Technical Committee-1, ISO's information technology body. (http://www.sun.com/smi/Press/sunflash/1997-03/sunflash.970317.22447.html.) If Sun's application is approved, Sun would have the right to submit Java specifications to JTC-1.
Q: Why did Sun choose the PAS process?
After examining a number of procedural options, Sun chose to pursue the new PAS process as the best method to standardize Java with a minimum of disruption to the development of the platform.
Q: Why should Sun be accepted?
In our opinion, Sun's process for developing the Java platform is unique not only in the technology industry but also in the standards world. Industry-wide and web-wide participation are the underpinnings of Sun's open, inclusive, Internet-time development processes.
Q: What would Sun gain by having Java codified as an international standard?
The question is less, "What would Sun gain?" than, "What would the entire Java industry gain?" Java is already part of the DNA of most companies doing business on the Internet, but official standardization is an important step in ensuring that those companies and governments that require standards take advantage of Java.
Standardization would also allow Java to play a bigger role in the government and public institution procurement market around the world. Most countries require that their public sectors buy IT equipment and accessories that meet international norms set by ISO.
Q: What would it mean if Sun were approved as a PAS submitter?
If Sun is approved, Sun would have the right to submit Java specifications directly to JTC-1 for standardization.
Q: Is the process over? Was Sun's application accepted?
The process is far from over, but the initial comment period has concluded.
Q: What are the next steps in the process?
The second stage of this process has now begun. Voting member delegations of JTC-1 have now turned in their initial comments on Sun's application, and JTC-1 will collate those responses and forward them to Sun during the next week. Sun will then have 60 days to consider and address the comments from each delegation.
At the end of the 60-day period, Sun will deliver its written responses to JTC-1. Member countries will then have 45 days to evaluate Sun's comments and inform JTC-1 if their votes stand or have changed, based on Sun's answers.
According to JTC-1, Sun's application would fail only if a consensus of member countries actively opposes it. If the consensus of JTC-1 members is to advance the application, Sun can then move onto the next step, which is the submission of Java specifications.
Q: How did each country vote?
Sun has not yet received notification of the final votes and comments from JTC-1. We expect to receive a package the week of July 21.
JTC-1 has stated that it will not release the votes and comments to the public -- that is their longstanding policy. However, each member country may choose to release their vote and comments.
After Sun has received the comments, we will confer with JTC-1 and determine whether it is appropriate for us to release the votes and comments on our web site.
Q: What do the initial votes mean?
According to JTC-1, almost all votes have been qualified with comments. What that means is that no fundamental decision has been made on Sun's application.
According to JTC-1, a yes vote with comments or a no vote with comments mean essentially the same thing: a country would like clarification or further discussion on specific issues the application has raised.
Q: What were the comments?
Sun has yet to receive the complete comment package. We'll be able to post more information on the comments after we've received and digested them. The comments from the United States are available at http://www.jtc1tag.org/.
Q: Will Sun change its policies to gain acceptance of the application?
It is premature to discuss any potential response to the comments of the national voting bodies until we receive them. We expect to be able to make statements on the issues of which we are aware, e.g. the Java trademark, maintenance of the specification and others, once we've had a chance to review and consider the formal comments.
Q: Why is this approval process so complex?
In effect, Sun's submission is a test case of a new process -- the PAS process has never been tried with an individual company before. The basic rules of openness and participation that govern JTC 1 procedures mandate that the comments of all member national voting bodies be recognized and considered by Sun, and this will take some time.