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App Server Powers Race To Embed Java EE 5 Support

The new version of the enterprise Java platform that shipped in May was such a comprehensive overhaul that Sun Microsystems retired the J2EE name and introduced a new moniker: Java Enterprise Edition 5.

But solution providers say they don't expect serious Java EE 5 development work to begin until the major application server vendors deliver compatible updates.

"We have it in our lab, and one of our customers has it in their lab, but no one is deploying it yet," said Robert Abate, principal at RCG Information Technology, an Edison, N.J., services firm with a large J2EE practice.

"All of our clients are on application servers that don't support it yet, and none of our clients would be willing to deploy anything on a beta application server," said Aaron Mulder, CTO of Chariot Solutions, Fort Washington, Pa.

Java EE 5 aims to simplify overall Java development. The most interesting thing about it, according to some solution providers, is the Java Persistence API, or JPA. "There are people that would never consider using [Enterprise JavaBeans, or EJB] who will use the JPA," Mulder said.

Adoption may be spurred, however, as top vendors are moving quickly on Java EE 5 support. By early next year most will have compatible updates shipping.

Here is a roundup of Java EE 5 activity among the major vendors:

Sun: Project GlassFish is the open-source initiative that created the first Java EE 5-compatible application server, Sun's Java System Application Server Platform Edition 9.0, which shipped in May. The software is both Sun's free, starter application server and a reference spec for other vendors to consult for their implementations.

GlassFish marked the first time Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun had a compliant application server shipping concurrently with a major Java EE update. Sun hoped GlassFish would speed Java EE 5 uptake and is pleased with what it's seeing so far, according to Ken Drachnik, Sun's open-source community development and marketing manager.

"Now, instead of a two-year time line, it looks like most of the application server vendors will have implementations in eight to 10 months," Drachnik said. "We somewhat expected this, but to actually see it happening is exciting."

BEA Systems: BEA got an early jump by buying tools maker SolarMetric last November, acquiring its flagship Kodo persistence engine for EJB 3.0 support. Kodo is available from BEA as a stand-alone product, but its technology will also be a key part of BEA's next major WebLogic update, code-named Dante.

BEA, San Jose, Calif., released a development-only preview release of WebLogic with EJB 3.0 support in May, and is in the final stages of completing its Java EE 5 WebLogic update, according to Blake Connell, director of product marketing for WebLogic.

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