The Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation has updated its evaluation of J2EE-compliant application servers first released in September 2001, again naming Borland Enterprise Server as a cut above competing products by IBM, BEA, Fujitsu, Silverstream and open-source app server JBoss.
CSIRO researchers tested the application servers on such criteria as J2EE (Java Enterprise Edition) support, EJB (Enterprise Java Bean) support, J2EE services, scalability and availability, development, deployment and system management tools.
Borland again scored a perfect result for J2EE support and services, with most vendors scoring reasonably well except for the open-source JBoss app server, which was slightly below par. BEA and IBM cemented their dominance in the high-end enterprise space, outscoring competing vendors on system management, scalability and availability. Borland and BEA were also shown to have superior development and deployment tools.
The research is also useful for evaluating what improvements have been made to vendor's product since they were last evaluated little over six months ago. New versions of IBM's WebSphere and Fujitsu's Interstage, the latter of which was recently introduced to the Australian market, improved across the board. The remainder were fairly static, with the SilverStream (currently being acquired by Novell) and JBoss products seeing small drops in performance.
The CSIRO evaluation concedes that while the research is useful for comparing the software at a technical level, cost is one determining factor that is always taken into account when end users purchase application servers. With the exception of availability and scalability, the open-source JBoss application server never scored more than 30 per cent less than those of the brand name vendors. Furthermore, these availability and scalability issues are expected to be resolved in Version 3.0, which is currently in alpha development.
The application server looks set to become a commodity in the near future. Hewlett-Packard was already bundling its application server with other software products free of charge prior to its acquisition of Compaq, and is now trying to sell its middleware business. Sun Microsystems has also recently announced that it will give away a basic version of its application server for free.
To find out more about the CSIRO research, go to http://www.cmis.csiro.au/adsat/j2eev2.htm