Sun launches latest app server

Sun Microsystems has released the latest version of its application server to run Java-enabled programs, the first update to...

Sun Microsystems has released the latest version of its application server to run Java-enabled programs, the first update to Sun's Java application server in nearly two years.

Java Application Server Platform Edition 8 is based on a fully redesigned architecture, including implementation of the latest Java web services standards, Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.4, making it easier to write and run web services applications written with Java, Sun said.

Sun also said the new app server uses 55% less memory than its Java Application Server Platform 7.

Developers can download and deploy the software for free and can bundle it without paying a licensing fee. Documentation and access to online support is also free, which is a way for Sun to adhere to the latest specifications and build out the server's ability, said Warren Shiau, senior analyst for the software research programme at IDC.

"Sun is playing into the basic recipe [for upgrades]," Shiau said.

Sun is already considered to be a heavyweight alongside Oracle, BEA Systems and IBM in the application server space. While its rivals outpaced it in the application server market in the past, Sun is going after the market again.

"It sets Sun up to go after everything… but by giving the app server for free, it is also looking to get install base," Shiau said.

In other words, Sun is setting the stage to offer more than a stack that can only sit on top of Unix systems, he added.

The announcements last week by Sun to make peace with long-time rival Microsoft and previous revelations that it would move its stack to sit on Linux as well, demonstrate that it is going after a bigger picture.

"I think gradually it has come to the realisation that it has to appeal to a larger market as well," he said. "In the past it would have been very limited by the fact that its stack is really on a Unix stack."

A lot of Sun's future success will also be a result of the new strategic direction the company is taking with Windows and Linux.

However, for Sun to really make a push forward, the incentive for the enterprise customer to adopt the Java Enterprise System also has to be a driving force. The JES is a suite of Java server products that includes the app server, web server, directory server and clustering software, and runs about $100 per employee.

"It is focusing on the application server as an instrument to get someone else, ultimately going after its full stack," Shiau explained. He added that Sun is also hoping to drive sales of JES.

Sun said it planned to release a more advanced enterprise edition of the app server platform in the second half of the year, which will include clustering software.

Edition 8 of the application server also supports JavaServer Faces application program interfaces. JavaServer Faces technology simplifies building user interfaces for JavaServer applications with reusable user interface components.

The Java System Application Server Edition 8 is now available for Solaris 8/9, Windows 2000/XP and Red Hat Linux. Standard and Enterprise editions of the software will be available later this year.

Allison Taylor writes for

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