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A mid-year report card on application servers and Web services

Simon Yates gives a Mid-year review of application servers and Web services.

Market Commentary
A mid-year report card on application servers and Web services

We ended 2001 expecting three things from application server vendors in 2002:

  • Free software for all
  • Developer bribes for platform loyalty
  • The first wave of Web services tooling

Not surprisingly, vendors met all three of these expectations to some degree:

  • Sun announced that it was giving away SunONE Application Server and integrating it directly into Solaris 9 for a single install. At the same time, Web services became the focal point for the new SunONE Developer Platform that bundles application, integration, portal, identity, and directory server products into a single suite.
  • BEA announced earlier this week the release of WebLogic Workshop as a comprehensive platform for development on the BEA platform — and signed a death warrant for WebGain. Also, no sooner had Hewlett-Packard gutted its middleware strategy than BEA stepped in like a white knight to fill the gap with application server solutions for HP hardware running HP-UX.
  • IBM continued to drive bundling and integration initiatives across its entire range of middleware products by bringing the process integration server CrossWorlds into the WebSphere fold. Big Blue also extended the WebSphere Studio family of application development products to support Lotus, Tivoli, DB2, and MQ products and built on the open source Eclipse integrated development environment.
  • Microsoft kicked its mammoth .NET initiative into gear with the release of the Visual Studio .NET development suite and integrated BizTalk into the .NET framework. With XML Web services at the forefront of Microsoft's strategy, Microsoft now has a credible object-oriented alternative to J2EE, pushing firms with an investment in VB skills to stay the course with .NET.
  • Novell stepped into the Web services game by announcing plans to acquire Silverstream, a Boston-area Web services development platform, and apparently plans to bundle its directory management and network identity servers with Silverstream's development tools and integration products.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: What does this mean for the second half of 2002?

  • Vendors must deliver on "announcements." The second half of the year is all about execution. Sun's giveaway of the application server for both development and deployment is a shot across the bow of Oracle and BEA, but that won't be enough to scare Larry Ellison or Alfred Chuang. Microsoft must integrate all its enterprise server products into the .NET framework, and Novell needs to come out of the gate fast to overcome skepticism about its late entry into Web services.
  • Tighter links are needed between hardware and software infrastructure. Even though HP looks ready to jettison its Bluestone application server, HP's hardware sales should get a boost from the BEA WLS influence stemming from teh latest partenership announcement. Don't be surprised if IBM keeps the game exciting by integrating WebSphere right into AIX and optimizing it for IBM hardware. The agreement by Dell, Red Hat, and Oracle could breathe new life into Linux and turn Dell into a serious enterprise hardware competitor.
  • Great deals are available for customers ready to invest. With the battle lines drawn among the heavy hitters, it's time to start selling and implementing the solutions. Prices are still high for enterprise-class application servers. With most Oracle, BEA, and IBM application server deployments running on Solaris, watch Sun customers put the squeeze on Oracle and BEA to lower prices.

Copyright 2002 Hurwitz Group Inc. This article is excerpted from TrendWatch, a weekly publication of Hurwitz Group Inc. - an analyst, research, and consulting firm. To register for a free email subscription, click here.

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