Those familiar with the power of open source software will agree with the saying that the best things in life are free. Sun Microsystems supports this stance and is bringing its Sun Tech Days worldwide developer conference back to the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 11-13 March, at no cost to interested developers and software engineers.

Among the high-profile Sun executives presenting at the conference is a keynote from Jeff Jackson, Sun's Vice President for engineering, managing the Solaris operating systems, clustering, database and storage software.
The Internet as the platform for distributed applications comes under the microscope as the notion of Web 2.0 continues to gain traction, while the relevance of open software platforms such as Sun’s Java and NetBeans, its OpenSolaris operating system and wealth of development tools are examined for their suitability in the creation of highly functional business applications.
“Celebrating its 10th year, Sun Tech Days represents a significant investment by Sun Microsystems to support and grow its community of over 56,000 local developers,” says Sun Microsystems sub-Saharan Africa marketing manager, Claire Alexander.
She points out that Web 2.0 is a key driving force which is shaping the development of the Internet.
“The increased attention to Web-based communities and hosted services which include social-networking, wikis and blogs is refreshing interest in the Internet as a facilitator of creativity, collaboration, and information sharing,” Alexander says.
Network applications extend from their use as social networking platforms to business-oriented solutions that can drive sales, marketing and e-commerce.
“As a result, what starts as a pastime or a social activity becomes a driving force in business; we are seeing the appeal of social networking and other Web 2.0 applications rapidly evolving from the purely social to the commercial,” she adds.
Web 2.0 is emerging as a result of the power of network applications in a service-oriented architecture. Alexander says the Sun Tech Days agenda is crafted to provide developers with insights and hands-on experience which will enable them to take full advantage of Sun’s technologies which enable and support these applications. Session tracks include a strong focus on Java, including Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), an essential technique in creating SOA Web pages.
“Java is recognised as the fastest growing and most widely used of any programming language. Given its platform independence which makes it suitable for almost any computing device, Java is particularly relevant with the advent of the mobile Internet and the increased pervasiveness of computing devices in the car, the home and the office,” Alexander comments. “As such, Sun Tech Days deals extensively with developments and anticipations for the future for the language.”
Sun’s NetBeans platform for the development of Java desktop applications receives attention in a track which deals with profiling and simplified service oriented architecture tools, and technologies for the creation of rich Internet applications.
OpenSolaris, Sun’s free open source distribution of its Solaris UNIX operating system, is introduced and examined in the context of enterprise security, while advanced features of Solaris 10, OpenSolaris and Solaris Nevada – the next iteration of the operating system – will be delved into.