The company on Monday said it has released the Java Application Server Platform Edition 8, the latest version of Sun's server software product for running programs written with Java. The software is available for free download and deployment. By making its application server and Java development tools available for free, Sun hopes to seed the market for its Java software and generate sales of more complex products. In the second half of the year, Sun plans to release a more advanced Enterprise Edition of the Application Server Platform, expected to cost $10,000 per processor.
Despite having invented Java, Sun rivals BEA Systems and IBM outran Sun in the Java application server market in the late 1990s. With the new strategy and software release, however, Sun is hoping to regain some market share.
"We're a lot better off than people realize," said Dennis MacNeil, product marketing manager on J2EE and Java system products at Sun. "Sun has become price-competitive...and the combination of price pressure and interoperability is a big issue (with customers)."
One way to enhance competitiveness is to rapidly introduce products that adhere to the latest industry standards. Sun's application server meets the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.4 specification, which makes it easier to write and runwritten with Java. The company has also met guidelines for adhering to the Web services specifications of the group's Basic Profile.
Sun is one of the first companies to meet the J2EE 1.4 specification, which is a set of blueprints on how software makers should write their software. When products from different providers meet the standards, customers should be able to run Java programs on application servers from J2EE-compliant products. IBM has released a preview version of itsthat complies with J2EE 1.4. Oracle last month released a of its J2EE 1.4-compliant application server.
Customers can also go with open-source application servers such as Tomcat, and , which is still under development.
Java Application Server Platform Edition 8 supports JavaServer Faces, an enhancement to industry guidelines for building user interface software with Java.
By offering its Java application server software available via free download, Sun hopes to drive sales of, a suite of Java server products that will include the application server, portal and identity management software, MacNeil said. The company charges $100 per employee per year for the Java Enterprise System.
In the second half of the year, Sun will release the Enterprise Edition of its application server, which will be designed for customers looking for more reliable server software. It will include clustering software to ensure that a backup server can keep an application running during a failure.