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ICEsoft pushes Ajax for enterprise server deployment

Today's release of ICEfaces Enterprise Edition aims to provide Ajax functionality for scaleable B2B applications for Java developers focused on the server rather than client.

In just a year's time the Ajax market has matured to the point where vendors are now releasing server side, enterprise class Ajax development tools.

 [Server side Ajax development] smooths interaction between the server and the client and provides the end user with the RUI experience.
Stephen Maryka
CTOICEsoft Technology Inc.
Out on the tip of that wave is ICEsoft Technology Inc. which today released ICEfaces Enterprise Edition v1.0, providing technology for developing scaleable enterprise Ajax applications that reside on the server, said Stephen Maryka, the company's CTO.

In concentrating on the Java server, ICEsoft is blazing a trail taken by few other emerging Ajax vendors outside of ClearNova Inc.. While other approaches aim at the UI developers and even tech-savvy graphic designers, Maryka said ICESoft provides tools aimed at enterprise Java developers, who are not used to working with even JavaScript let alone Ruby or PHP.

The server side approach not only frees the enterprise developer from needing to become a scripting expert, it also takes the weight of the Ajax application off the Web client and puts it on the server, the CTO explains. ICEfaces extends JavaServer Faces (JSF) and employs Dynamic HTML (DHTML), a pre-Ajax standard for rich user interfaces that dates back to the late 1990s. ICEsoft has dubbed its approach, which requires no client side plug-ins, "thin client Ajax."

ICEsoft developed an Ajax bridge, which Maryka said "smooths interaction between the server and the client and provides the end user with the RUI experience." ICEsoft has also developed "Ajax Push" technology, which updates the browser as data changes on the server even when the end user isn't asking or expecting updates, the CTO said.

In an enterprise application, Ajax Push would update inventory levels on all Web clients as soon as the data changed on the server, Maryka explained. Or in an application for systems administrators, it could dynamically push hardware and software performance data out to Web clients, he added.

Two other potential advantages of the server-based Ajax Push approach is that it eliminates lengthy page builds on the client and does not require polling for updates, thus enhancing application performance, Maryka said.

ICEsoft previously released a free ICEfaces Community Edition in April and demonstrated it at JavaOne in San Francisco in May. That edition, which is free to developers and free to deploy, has attracted 5,000 users, said Robert Lepack, ICEsoft's vice president of marketing.

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The enterprise edition, priced at $1,500 per CPU and available for a trial version starting today, marks the company's entrance into a more traditional enterprise software model and adds features specifically designed for B2B Ajax applications. The added functionality includes:

  • Advanced Connection Management: Connection monitoring to maintain a consistent Internet connection, re-establish broken connections and alert users of connection problems.
  • Asynchronous HTTP Server: Compensating for what Maryka characterized as the poor scalability of Java Servlets. This feature is designed to provide enterprise-level scalability using the Ajax Push technology and asynchronous mode deployments.
  • Clustered Deployment Support: Applications can be deployed in clustered environments. This uses the ICEsoft BroadcastRenderManager to provide updates using Ajax Push across multiple nodes in a cluster.
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