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What's next for app servers?

Integration of the old with the new has long been a priority of corporate IT development organizations. Yes, there have been periods when experts called for replacing all things technology, but for the most part, managers recognize that maintaining and updating legacy systems is vital to corporate success.

By the late 1990s, application server technology emerged as a popular middle tier for client/server systems as the Internet revolution took hold and access to the World Wide Web became vital to all kinds of organizations -- corporations, government, non-profits and others. The emergence of app servers prompted the creation of a slew of start-ups and quick entry into the business by major players like IBM, BEA Systems, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Sun Microsystems.

In our cover story (''App servers: Up from middleware'' ), senior correspondent John K. Waters takes a look at the state of application server technology today, which in many cases is packaged into a bundle that includes development and testing tools, workflow managers, configuration management systems and other products.

Waters also notes that consolidation moved quickly in the business leaving IBM and BEA at the top of the J2EE heap, Microsoft pretty much alone in offering .NET app servers, some significant success by JBoss Group in spreading an open-source implementation, trials and tribulations with Sun's efforts in the business and, finally, HP's decision to abandon its Bluestone server when it became clear that customers were looking elsewhere.

Experts' opinions are mixed regarding what is next for the technology, but all agree it's here to stay.

Meanwhile, Deborah Melewski reports that modeling could provide significant help to Visual Basic developers evolving to the .NET platform. Though Microsoft was an early champion of UML and MDA, a majority of Microsoft developers have little use so far for modeling.

Melewski notes that Microsoft plans to include modeling tools in its next-generation ''Whitehorse'' enterprise design tools and that Rational promises to continue offering a .NET version of Rose even as a unit of Java-champion IBM. Whatever happens, the next generation of Microsoft development technologies promises to prove very interesting to enterprise developers.

Best Regards,

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.

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