Sun prepares Java server update

Sun Microsystems plans to complete a Web services-ready, enterprise version of its Java application server next year while it ups its investment in Web server software.

Sun Microsystems will deliver a full-featured version of its Java server product line in the second half of next year, a Sun executive said on Thursday.

Sun last month released a stripped-down,

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The company will fill out the developer edition of the Java server software with an enterprise version in the latter half of next year, said Mark Bauhaus, vice president of Java Web services at Sun, during a press briefing Thursday. It will include advanced features, such as improved management, better performance and "high availability" capabilities, which insulate the server software from crashing.

During the briefing, Bauhaus also said that interest is strong in Sun's packaging system for Java server software, called the Java Enterprise System. Sun started selling its Java Enterprise System earlier this month for $100 per employee per year.

Sun's pricing method, which contrasts with the typical per-processor licensing model, is "driving the excessive rent out of the application server market," Bauhaus said. Sun continues to sell individual components of the Java server software suite on a per-processor basis, but customers that buy more than two or three components, such as the identity management software and the portal, will save money by going with the per-employee licensing structure, he said.

Sun is also increasing investment in its Web server software, Bauhaus said. The company has incorporated tools to let developers use scripting languages with its Web software. Future enhancements will focus on security and performance.

Bauhaus conceded that about one year ago Sun's standing in the market for Java-based Web services software "was not exactly a beautiful picture." According to research from Gartner Dataquest, IBM and BEA Systems dominated the Java server software market share in 2002, garnering about two thirds of all application server revenue, while Sun lagged far behind.

In the past year, though, Sun was elected to a board seat on the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization, which is publishing guidelines on how to adhere to Web services standards. That position has given Sun more influence in the industry, which it would like to use to make the WS-I's processes and voting more transparent, Bauhaus said.

Bauhaus also highlighted a number of customers, such as the British National Health service, that have signed on with Sun to purchase both individual components within the Java Enterprise System as well as the entire package.

Sun customer Shell Energy attended the press briefing and discussed a project that uses Sun's Java software and server hardware.

Shell HomeGenie is a consumer service that will allow people to control their home appliances and thermostat from an Internet-enabled device, such as a PC or mobile phone. Shell Energy expects to release the HomeGenie service in the United States in the first half of next year for less than $30 per month.

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