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GlassFish tuned for enterprise scale SOA performance

Today's release of GlassFish V2 open source Java EE 5 app server offers a high performance, scaleable alternative to commercial products for SOA implementations, according to Sun Microsystems Inc.

Today's release of GlassFish V2 application server is fast, scalable and ready for enterprise service-oriented architecture (SOA) implementations, says Sun Microsystems, Inc.

 People are getting used to using open source software, but they are not used to open source software being fast.
Ken Drachnik
Marketing ManagerSun's Open Source Group

GlassFish V2, the open source version of Java Platform Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5 application server, known commercially as the Sun Java System Application Server 9.1., is a "major" improvement over version one, says Ken Drachnik, community development and marketing manager for Sun's Open Source Group, which includes the GlassFish Community.

"V1, our first implementation, was geared to developers with single instance kind of machines, so people could get used to programming in Java EE 5 and start developing initial applications," he said. "V2 brings along all the features an enterprise needs to deploy in a large scaleable manner."

Performance has been tuned so GlassFish V2 "is on the order of 60 percent faster than GlassFish V1," Drachnik said. "We've added clustering, so multiple servers can be clustered together and administered remotely so the dynamics of setting up application servers are much easier than in V1 where it was only a single instance machine operation."

Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart, Sun distinguished engineer for technology and community and software infrastructure, said the performance and scalability improvements will be helpful for enterprises seeking an open source server for SOA.

"One of the things someone doing SOA is interested in is Web services performance," he said. "It's not just the raw performance, it's the scalability, the number of open connections that you want to have at a given time."

Joe McKendrick, analyst for Evans Data Corp., agreed that the clustering featured in the new GlassFish release has potential value for SOA development.

"One of the big challenges now for SOA is assuring such scalability to handle growing usage and sharing of services," he said.

McKendrick was also impressed with the Project Metro feature of GlassFish V2, which provides interoperability between Web services hosted on Java technology and Windows environments. He said Java/Windows interoperability is important "since most SOA environments are mixed environments with .NET and Java pieces. Perhaps this is finally a visible result of the nicey-nicey handshakes that went on between Sun and Microsoft a couple of years back, when they settled their legal tangle? They did promise interoperability at that time."

Analyst views of the Java enterprise edition in general and the application servers in particular are mixed.

Forrester Research Inc. dramatically upgraded its evaluation of Sun's application servers for SOA and business process management (BPM), citing improvements in both Sun's commercial version and GlassFish. The addition of enterprise services bus (ESB) and other technology that Sun acquired with its purchase of SeeBeyond helped raise Sun's app servers from a lowly status in Forrester's 2004 report to a much higher level this summer.

However, Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC., who agreed with Richard Monson-Haefel, senior analyst with the Burton Group Inc., report a year ago that the Java enterprise platform is too cumbersome of SOA, sees little of value in the new GlassFish.

"There's really nothing SOA-related about the GlassFish announcement," Bloomberg said. "It does have Web services support, but that and a nickel won't buy you a cup of coffee, let alone build you an SOA."

Drachnik and Pelegri-Llopart argue on GlassFish's behalf that its new performance and scaleability make it competitive with commercial application servers for SOA.

"In terms of performance, if you look at the numbers we've published using the SPECj Java application server performance criteria we now have the industry leading SPECj performance numbers," Drachnik said.

For more information
Sun rises in Forrester evaluation of platforms for SOA/BPM

Sun SOA roadmap focuses on B2B

He said the performance numbers put GlassFish at the top of the list of app servers.

"The key thing about that is not that they are industry leading, it's that we have the fastest app server out there regardless of whether it's open source or proprietary," Drachnik said. "I think that's an important milestone for the open source community. It shows that an open source community can develop enterprise grade software that has the kind of performance that enterprises need to run their applications. People are getting used to using open source software, but they are not used to open source software being fast."

McKendrick views the competitive nature of the GlassFish release as an overall plus for SOA architects and developers looking at the overall application server market.

"It's great to see some robust competition in the open-source middleware space," the analyst said. "Along with JBoss and Apache, as well as IBM's WebSphere Community Edition, Glassfish offers another alternative."

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