In hopes of quieting its skeptics, executives from the
Sun-Netscape Alliance said today they have unified their e-commerce software and will ship a new product early next year as promised.
The iPlanet Application Server 6.0 is based on Java 2 Enterprise Edition,
the latest iteration of Sun's programming language, which Sun said can help
companies build large, e-commerce Web sites. Sun said the application server
will be certified as Java 2 Enterprise Edition compliant later this month.
When Sun Microsystems and America Online, owner of Netscape, struck their
partnership eight months ago, they said they would meld together their separate
e-commerce technology called application servers and release a single,
unified product in early 2000.
The strategy was met with heavy skepticism by competitors and industry
analysts who said it's difficult
to combine the software code of different technologies. But Alliance
executives say they're on track to deliver.
The partnership will ship a beta version of its new iPlanet application
server in January and release a final version, along with complementary
development tools, in March.
The alliance competes against Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and dozens of other
software makers in the emerging market for application servers, software that sits
between Web browsers and databases and helps run the transactions on an
e-commerce Web site.
Because of the stiff competition, analysts say it's important that the
deliver its product on time. But the partnership must prove the new
technology is reliable and fast enough to meet the needs of its target
audience: large businesses, portal Web sites and Internet service providers.
"They're on track, but we don't know exactly what they're going to develop.
The end result won't be known until people use it in projects and put it in
production, so there's still room for skepticism," said analyst Mike
Gilpin of Giga Information Group.
As reported earlier, the iPlanet
Application Server 6.0 will support
Java 2 Enterprise Edition, the latest Java standard that includes the
Enterprise JavaBeans programming model.
The product will meld together technology from the Netscape application
server, Sun's NetDynamics application server, as well as some technology
from Sun's recent acquisition of
The joint effort will take Netscape's transaction engine and NetDynamic's
software connectors to Enterprise Resource Planning software and so-called
legacy systems, such as mainframe computers.
The Alliance will also include Forte technology that lets developers
easily map software code to databases, said Joe Keller, the Alliance's vice
president and general manager of application servers. The group will also
bundle in Forte's SynerJ development tool for programmers building business
The product will allow current users of Netscape, NetDynamics and Forte app
servers to easily migrate to the new product, he said.
The Alliance on Monday also released a new addition to its BillerXpert bill
payment product family. The technology, which runs on top of the
application server, allows people to pay their bills over the Internet.
The new product, called BillerXpert Consolidator Edition, allows banks and
other institutions to easily and quickly set up a Web site, so their
customers can pay their cable, utility, water and other bills online.