Application server technology is maturing quickly and real differences are emerging between competing products according to a CSIRO report released this week.
The report contains the latest findings from CSIRO's ongoing program of evaluating and comparing application server technologies and the results challenge some current industry perceptions.
In particular, the report says that Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) technology is now mature to the point where it is ready for widespread adoption.
EJB is an architecture which allows programs to exist on a server as components (or Beans), written in the Java programming language. These components are distributed over networks to clients. EJB technology means enterprises can manage complex programs at the server level avoiding the need to update individual computers whenever one component is changed or a new component is added. EJB components can also be reused across multiple applications.
"The industry has had its doubts as to whether EJB technology could provide the performance and scalability really required for mission-critical enterprise systems", according to report author, Dr Jeff Gosper.
"Our report shows that EJB technology has now come of age. The performance, development tools and completeness of products offered by the leading J2EE application server providers indicate that it's time for EJBs to come out of the 'early adopter' phase into the mainstream of enterprise software systems development."
J2EE (Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition) is a platform-independent, Java-based environment for developing, building and deploying Web-based enterprise applications.
While J2EE has been widely adopted, with an annual market growth rate of around 40 per cent, its EJB functionality has been slower to win support.
"While figures vary, it seems that at least 25 per cent of J2EE users are now using EJB in fully developed enterprise applications," Gosper said.
"The main reason for its growing popularity is the reusability of EJB components. Add to this the fact that J2EE applications can be made more scalable, reliable and available, and you have a winning combination"The CSIRO report looks at the following J2EE application server products:
· BEA's WebLogic Server v6.1.
· Borland's Borland Enterprise Server v5.02.
· Fujitsus' INTERSTAGE Application Server v4.0.
· IBM's WebSphere Application Server v4.0.
· Open source JBoss v2.4.3.
· SilverStream's Application Server v3.7.4.
The products were evaluated quantitatively for performance/scalability and qualitatively against another 6 critical areas. The leaders that have emerged in this round of tests were:
· Performance/scalability: Borland.
· J2EE support: Borland.
· EJB support: Borland and BEA.
· J2EE services: tight group of leaders including Borland, BEA, Fujitsu and IBM.
· Development and deployment: Borland and BEA.
· System management: BEA.
· Scalability and availability: IBM.
However, the difference between leader and runners up is often small and the leading products (including BEA, Borland and IBM) score highly across the board.
Gosper said the report is required reading for organisations making the crucial transition to Internet delivery of services or are in the process of ramping up their e-business capabilities.
He said the report aims to help reduce the risks and costs of J2EE application server selection.
"We worked extensively with these products by building real applications to help us understand what they are capable of. This helps us clearly identify strengths and weaknesses of each of the products," he said.
"Our findings indicate that all application servers are not created equal. There are significant differences in functionality, performance and scalability across all the products tested."
Related links: http://www.cmis.csiro.au/adsat/j2eev2.htm