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