Sun readies Java app servers

Company is testing Java System Application Server 8--and hoping that it'll boost the company's share of the Java server software market.

Sun Microsystems plans to begin beta testing the high-end versions of its Java application server next month and release them by the end of the year.

The standard and enterprise editions of Sun's Java System Application Server 8 will be ready for testing in about three weeks, a Sun executive said Monday. Dennis MacNeil, product manager for J2EE and Sun's application server, said the application servers, used to run business applications, will include "high-availability features" to prevent servers from crashing.

By the end of the calendar year, the standard and enterprise editions will be available, MacNeil said. Last year, Sun released a stripped-down platform edition of its Java application server, which is based on the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standard.

The standard and enterprise versions, which will cost $2,000 and $10,000 per processor, respectively, will also add better performance and management tools, MacNeil said.

Version 8 of Sun's application server is a new product for the company in that it is a rewrite of its former Java server, called SunOne. Its latest application server is also important to the company's plans to gain market share in the competitive Java server software field.

Right now, IBM and BEA systems are the incumbent market share leaders in terms of revenue, while Oracle is seeing an increase in the adoption of its own suite of Java software server, according to research firm Gartner.

"It's probably fair to position us as a challenger," said Rick Schultz, group product manager for J2EE and Sun's application server.

Company executives said usage of its application server is growing, particularly with application developers. Sun's strategy is to appeal to programmers who use its tools and the Java server to write applications, and to try to displace existing software, once the application is deployed.

In a study partially sponsored by Sun, The Middleware Co. found that Java programmers had the most "hands-on experience" with Sun's different Java application server programs.

Sun is also trying to entice independent software vendors, which build applications on Java application servers. The company announced on Wednesday that Borland Software, Compuware, Computer Associates International, Mercury Interactive and Quest Software are building support for Sun's Application Server 8.

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