Sun releases new version of enterprise middleware


Sun Microsystems Inc. has released a new version of its Java Enterprise System (Java ES) set of subscription-based enterprise middleware with the emphasis on making the offering more modular.

The vendor unveiled Java ES 5.0 Thursday, the first major release of the bundle since October 2005. The offering brings Sun’s infrastructure software, support and training together into a single product and is aimed at companies looking to purchase the vendor’s middleware at a gradual, predictable rate. Java ES is also available in the form of individual software suites known collectively as Java System Suites.

“Java ES 5.0 continues a lot of what we started four years ago,” said Jim McHugh, vice president of software infrastructure at Sun. In 2003, the vendor introduced what became Java ES as Project Orion as a way for customers to buy an integrated middleware stack made available on a regular quarterly release cycle.

Users can begin by buying the Java ES 5.0 Base for US$100 per employee per year, which includes Sun’s application, portal and Web servers, and then choose to add on subscriptions for Sun’s Java System Identity Manager or its Java Composite Application Platform Suite (Java CAPS). Adding in identity management brings the annual cost per user to US$140, which then increases to $200 when Java CAPS is also included.

Sun sees its prime middleware competitor as IBM Corp. with its WebSphere offering. “They have the same breadth of software we offer, but we did our [product] integration three years ago,” McHugh said. As Oracle Corp. continues integrating its Fusion middleware, it’ll also be more of a significant Sun rival, he added.

Major enhancements in Java ES 5.0 include work on a monitoring console and monitoring framework and a common installer for the software components, McHugh said. The vendor is also keen to incorporate more of its own and third-party open-source components in its middleware. Java ES already includes Java DB, Sun’s supported distribution of the open-source Apache Derby database. The middleware also supports the PostgreSQL open-source database.

Sun now lays claim to more than 1.3 million subscribers for Java ES compared to the nearly 1 million it declared in October 2005.

When Sun released Java ES 4.0 in 2005, the major focus for the new version was the additional support of operating systems from Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. As well as Windows and HP-UX, Java ES supports Sun’s Solaris and Red Hat Inc.’s Enterprise Linux. Sun is continuing to debate whether Java ES should also support the other leading Linux distribution, Suse from Novell Inc., McHugh said, and is seeing demand from some European users. Although Sun doesn’t support IBM’s AIX across the entire breadth of its middleware stack, many elements of Java ES do support the IBM operating system, he added.

Java ES users include credit reporting company Equifax Inc., auto manufacturer General Motors Corp., health-care insurance company Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts Inc. and Australian telecom carrier Telstra Corp. Ltd., McHugh said.


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