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Sun-Netscape Alliance sets date for software

The new version of Netscape Application Server is designed to help companies build e-commerce sites by processing transactions and linking browser-based clients to databases.

The Sun-Netscape Alliance next month will release new server software designed to help companies build e-commerce sites.

The new version of Netscape Application Server offers more Java support, improved reliability, and faster performance, according to the Alliance. The software helps companies create e-commerce Web ites by processing transactions and running the business logic--or rules--of applications, and linking browser-based clients to databases and other software.

Like competing application servers from BEA Systems, Bluestone and others, Netscape Application Server 4.0 will support Java 2 Enterprise Edition (which includes the Enterprise JavaBeans programming model) and Java Server Pages (which allows Web pages to include Java applications). It also integrates IBM's transaction processing software TX Series and includes system management tools.

The Alliance is one of several dozen vendors, ranging from startups to software heavyweights such as Microsoft and Oracle, that is vying for a share of the application server market, expected to grow to more than $2 billion in revenue by 2002, according to a study by Forrester Research. The study predicts the market will consolidate by 2001 and picked the Alliance as well as IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle as the handful of server software makers who will survive.

A companion development tool, Netscape Application Builder 4.0, features several "wizards," which makes it easier for developers to build e-commerce applications by guiding them through the development process. It includes wizards for building software with Enterprise JavaBeans and connecting to back-end databases.

The Sun-Netscape Alliance this year is shipping the new version of Netscape Application Server, as well as a new version of Sun's NetDynamics app server, before merging the two into a unified product next year.

Netscape Application Server 4.0 is expected to cost $35,000 per server processor. Netscape Application Builder 4.0, shipping in September, is priced at $1,295 per developer.