GlassFish app server to swim in the enterprise

Sun bolsters open source platform

Sun Microsystems' open source GlassFish application server is to be fitted with enterprise-level capabilities and interoperability with Microsoft technologies.

The company will announce on Monday a beta release of GlassFish V2, which is based on Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5. Also on the agenda for Sun is a release of the Sun Web Developer Pack, which is a toolkit that helps enable development of rich Internet applications on the Java platform. Sun is making these announcements at the AjaxWorld Conference & Expo in New York City.

The GlassFish V2 beta, available here, incorporates enterprise functionality from Sun's commercially supported Java System Application Server Enterprise Edition, including clustering, administration, and load balancing. Also highlighted is the inclusion of Web Services Interoperability Technology, for linkage between Web services hosted on Java and Microsoft Windows environments.

"This allows applications to interoperate between Web services hosted on Java and .Net environments, and this is a key outcome growth of the Sun-Microsoft relationship," said Ken Drachnik, community development and marketing manager for the open source group at Sun. Microsoft and Sun announced an interoperability plan in April 2004.

The application server provides capabilities such as enabling persistent calls back to the database from an application. Native JBI (Java Business Integration) capabilities in V2 support SOA, Sun said. JBI "standardizes the way in which you can consume your services" and enables development of a modular architecture, said Satish Hemachandran, product manager for the application platform at Sun. Users can plug in runtime environments such as BPEL (Business Process Execution Language).

JBI backing is featured in the accompanying developer kit for the application server.

GlassFish serves as the reference implementation for Java EE 5. The general release of GlassFish V2 is expected this fall, but the beta is fully functional, Drachnik said. With the beta, Sun seeks feedback from developers and enterprises on clustering and other capabilities.

A user of the current version of GlassFish has high hopes for capabilities such as clustering, anticipating it will provide for centralized management. The user, Cyril Bouteille, chief technology officer at peer-to-peer DVD trading service Peerflix, said he was attracted to the lack of a price tag on GlassFish. He had used BEA Systems WebLogic and IBM WebSphere application servers at a previous place of employment.

"They're just outrageously expensive," Bouteille said.

Sun has not been among the leaders in market share in the application server space based on market studies, Drachnik acknowledged. But he said these studies rely on revenues, and Sun offers its application servers for free, he said.

The Sun Web Developer Pack, which functions with the NetBeans IDE, simplifies access to multiple open source technologies for building rich Internet applications, REST (Representational State Transfer) Web services, and RSS feeds. Developers can access Java technologies such as Project jMaki, which is an AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) wrapping framework for consuming widgets, and Dynamic Faces, providing JavaServer Faces capabilities for AJAX.

Geared toward Web 2.0 applications, the pack will be included with the Sun Java Application Platform SDK update 3 preview, which also features the GlassFish V2 beta. The SDK is available on Monday. Sun plans to add Ruby development support to the developer pack at some point in the future.

Sun on Monday also plans to announce the creation of Java Specification Request 311, which is intended to provide RESTful Web services on the Java platform. Vendors such as BEA Systems, JBoss, and Apache are participating in this JSR.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.