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BEA beefs up app server

BEA Systems updates its WebLogic application server with new replication features that help keep e-commerce Web sites up and running.

BEA Systems has updated its WebLogic application server with new replication features that help keep e-commerce Web sites up and running.

An application server is software that sits between a browser and back-end databases and performs the business logic--or rules and regulations--of an application. For example, application servers might contain the logic that determines discounts to online buyers who purchase a minimum amount of goods.

"BEA WebLogic Server 4.0, which supports the Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) component model, has new clustering and replication features that allows a transaction to continue when an outage occurs, said Scott Dietzen, BEA WebXpress Division's chief technology officer. Clustering links application servers together so information is copied and no data is lost if one server goes down.

The application server--formerly called Tengah before BEA purchased WebLogic last year--previously only offered replication of front-end Web page data, such as 10 books or CDs in a customer's shopping cart, Dietzen said. Now, the application server offers the clustering and replication features of business components, such as EJB components that debit credit cards and contain shipping schedules of purchases.

"We're the first product that does both Web page clustering for content and replication clustering for business components," he said.

BEA has also improved the app server's speed, added tighter integration with Symantec's Visual Cafe Java development tool, and integration with object databases, Dietzen said. App servers in a cluster can also be disconnected or re-connected without interrupting service.

Analyst Anne Thomas, of the Patricia Seybold Group, said the updated app server is one of better EJB app servers available with good security, speed and replication features.

"It dramatically increases reliability and performance. It's a good release," she said.

In fact, Thomas believes the new WebLogic release is the fastest EJB app server available. Sun's"NetDynamics 5 is really fast, about 200 percent faster than its last version. But the WebLogic product is just ripping," she said.

But while WebLogic does support "entity beans," companies such as Persistence, GemStone and Secant support it better, she said.

In EJB vernacular, "entity beans" handle database access. They're important because they save time for developers, Thomas said. About 40 percent of all code in client/server applications are often for accessing databases.

WebLogic 4.0, shipping now, costs $10,000 per server processor. It costs an additional $5,000 for clustering and replication capabilities. Dietzen added that BEA will release its WebLogic Enterprise later this year.