GlassFish app server goes enterprise

Sun also touting beta version of NetBeans 6.0 featuring Ruby accommodations

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Sun is announcing Monday the release of the GlassFish version 2 open-source application server, which features enterprise-level capabilities for running large-scale applications.

The company also will offer a beta release of the upcoming open-source NetBeans 6.0 IDE, which accommodates scripting languages.

While the first version of GlassFish was intended for developers, the follow-up release due Monday is intended to place GlassFish in the vein of an enterprise-level application server. Highlighted capabilities include clustering, data replication, and centralized administration of server clusters.

Improved interoperability between Web services hosted on Java and Microsoft also is featured as part of a Web services stack dubbed "Project Metro."

"This is an outgrowth of our relationship with Microsoft," said Ken Drachnik, Sun open-source community marketing manager.

The "Open ESB" capability in version 2 enables integration of Web services and existing enterprise resources. Java Business Integration support provides a standardized approach to delivering SOA via Web services, Sun said.

Performance also has been dramatically improved with version 2, according to Sun. GlassFish version 2 is based on Java Platform, Enterprise Edition 5.

Sun will base its own commercially supported application server, Sun Java System Application Server 9.1, on GlassFish version 2. It will feature an approximately 75 percent price reduction to $4,500 for an annual subscription for four sockets.

Sun rivals in the application server space, including JBoss and BEA Systems, have participated in the GlassFish development community because they can leverage technologies available in it, such as the application server's JAXB (Java Architecture for XML Binding) technology, Sun officials said.

GlassFish version 2's performance was lauded by analyst Joe Niski of the Burton Group. "I think the performance improvements are pretty good," said Niski, who also mentioned the clustering capabilities as worthwhile.

"The basic J2EE application servers are getting more and more commoditized. There are so many free ones out there. This provides really commercial-level performance and scalability to basically a free offering," said Niski.

GlassFish has served as reference implementation of Java. It also has been integrated with the NetBeans IDE, allowing developers to deploy SOA applications using business process execution language workflows.

With NetBeans 6.0, the IDE moves beyond its Java origins to accommodate scripting languages, JavaScript and Ruby in particular.

"The Ruby support is very important because it allows us to really talk to an entirely new segment of developers," said Gregg Sporar, NetBeans evangelist at Sun.

"We have room inside the tent for more than just Java developers," Sporar said.

The Matisse GUI builder in NetBeans 6.0 supports the Swing framework for building desktop applications and Beans Binding for modifying user interface controls to accommodate back-end data source changes.

Also, the code editor in 6.0 has been rewritten and optimized. The profiler, for checking performance problems like memory leaks, now enables developers to stop execution of an application so they can examine what is happening within the program.

Version 6.0 integrates with the Subversion version control system.

General availability for NetBeans 6.0 is planned for the end of this year. The IDE first was offered in an early-access format at the JavaOne conference in May.

Future distributions of NetBeans, starting with the production release of version 6.0, will be offered under either the Common Development and Distribution License or the GNU GPL (General Public License) version 2. Extending NetBeans to GPL is expected to make the platform more attractive to Linux developers.