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HP offers up free application server

Hewlett-Packard is offering its Application Server 8.0 for free, hoping to get a leg up in the Web services market.

Looking for a good deal on an application server? How does free sound?

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has announced that the HP Application Server 8.0 (HP-AS) will be distributed free of licensing charges in an effort to accelerate Web services adaptation, and establish HP as a leader in the Web services market.

HP is currently tied with Oracle for fourth place in the application server market behind BEA's Weblogic, IBM's WebSphere and Sun's iPlanet.

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Register for your free version of HP AS 8.0 at

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Best Web Links for Middleware Application Servers

The HP-AS is part of the Netaction portfolio -- products that are designed with a flexible foundation to allow businesses to develop, integrate and deploy voice and data services. The full featured, fully scaleable, completely rebuilt app server boasts an architecture designed for services and Web-services oriented computing. Its modular "plug and play" foundation allows developers to reuse code and also to decide which services they want to keep. The services can be revised and updated allowing applications to be more easily created and customized, which can speed up development time and lower costs.

"It's a new breed of application server. It's plugging and playing capabilities, allow developers to reuse code a lot more easily, for maximum architectural flexibility. You can shrink or expand the footprint of this app server for a variety of target platforms such as a mobile phone, a server or a mainframe," says Christopher Benedetto, director of strategy and planning for HP's Middleware Division.

The HP Application Server is based on Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) and supports most Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) 2.0 features in addition to emerging Web services technologies such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) and The Web Services Description Language (WSDL). Built-in implementations of open source projects such as Apache and the ability to plug-in to Netscape and IIS Web Servers are included.

Benedetto stresses that even Microsoft .NET developers will be able to take advantage of what the HP-AS has to offer.

"The promise of UDDI, WSDL, SOAP, etc. is interoperability. We are working closely not only with Microsoft, but with the community of developers on those standards to make certain that there's maximum interoperability. So it's not an either/or proposition," he said.

According to Pierre Fricke, executive vice president, Web infrastructure, D.H. Brown Associates, a Port Chester, N.Y., technology analysis firm, the HP-AS may be a good choice for any small to mid-range company writing Web applications that need transaction processing, and business logic EJB. Z-Tel Technologies Inc., a telephone service provider based in Tampa, Fla. offering integrated Web-enhanced telephone services to small businesses and residential consumers, is planning to convert its Community Voice Portal (voicexml, speech recognition, Web-enabled) application, currently running on a freeware app server, over to the HP Application Server. They also plan to port their Enhanced Services suite (consisting of voicemail, contact manager, PIM, calendar, speech recognition and Web-enabled) to the new application server.

Dan Cripe, vice president of applications development said that they chose HP because, "HP's vision is in line with ours as we go from a Java/CORBA-based architecture to J2EE and roll in XML capabilities. We went with the HP solution due to the quality of software, demonstrated enterprise robustness, professionalism, and HP's willingness to collaborate on the technology."

Fricke said that HP's ability to break out of the second tier application server pack will be mostly determined by the level of compatibility between HP-AS's EJB container and servlet engine with BEA WebLogic. The easier it is for independent software vendors (ISVs) to move, the more successful HP will be competing with BEA and Websphere, but the HP-AS is still largely untested for now.

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