JOnAS app server gets J2EE-certified

The ObjectWeb consortium's open source application server has been certified compliant with Sun Microsystems's enterprise Java specification, a development that ObjectWeb hopes will help it to attract more corporate and government users.

Called JOnAS, or Java Open Application Server, the software is now certified compliant with Sun's J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) 1.4 specification, the consortium announced Tuesday. The certified version will be available for free download from ObjectWeb's Web site within about two weeks, said Christophe Ney, ObjectWeb's executive director.

Founded by France Telecom SA, Groupe Bull and France's National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, known as INRIA, ObjectWeb is a nonprofit organization that develops a variety of open source infrastructure software. JOnAS, its best known project, is used by Red Hat as the basis for its Red Hat Application Server, which was released last year.

The certification is intended to assure interoperability between Java products from different vendors. A developer should find it relatively easy to port an application written for BEA Systems's WebLogic Server, for example, to another J2EE application server, so long as the developer adhered closely to the J2EE specification. The certification also means that ObjectWeb can use Sun's steaming coffee-cup Java logo, a trademark available only to certified licensees.

Some IT executives look for J2EE certification when making buying decisions and getting certified could help ObjectWeb to attract more government and corporate users, industry analysts said. ObjectWeb's main open source rival, JBoss, has been J2EE certified for some time, as have market leaders BEA, IBM and Oracle.

"J2EE certification is an essential guarantee for many enterprises and ISVs (independent software vendors), so much so that in many cases organizations pay for and roll out J2EE-based application servers when they could just as easily use Apache Tomcat. From that perspective this is a major step forward for JOnAS," said James Governor, principal analyst at RedMonk.

Open-source rival JBoss is further ahead of ObjectWeb in terms of commercialization, Governor said. The for-profit company sells professional services with its software and has attracted venture capital and a community of ISVs. "It will be interesting to see what approaches to commercialization the ObjectWeb consortium takes," Governor said.

ObjectWeb seems happy to remain a noncommercial entity for the time being. Not having to answer to investors and shareholders gives it more freedom and flexibility in planning its long-term objectives, ObjectWeb officials have said.

"We have proved that a community-based effort can be as good in quality as any industry effort. It was important for us to show that ObjectWeb can play the game very professionally," Jean-Pierre Laisne, ObjectWeb's chairman, said in an interview.

ObjectWeb does not sell professional services, but users can buy services from a provider such as Bull or submit support queries via e-mail to the community of JOnAS developers. JOnAS currently has 28 registered "committers," or people who develop and contribute code to the project regularly, Ney said.

JOnAS' certification does not mean that Red Hat can also use the Java-compatible logo; if it wants to market its software as J2EE-certified then it too must license and pass Sun's Java compatibility test suites.

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