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Sun upgrades GlassFish, slashes Java support price

Java upgrade improves features while support price cut targets rival JBoss

By , NetworkWorld.com
September 18, 2007 08:08 PM ET

NetworkWorld.com - Sun Monday updated the open source Java Platform Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5 for the GlassFish Web applications development community and cut the cost of the commercial version of GlassFish, Sun Java Application Server 9.1 Enterprise Edition, to be more price-competitive with rival JBoss.

Sun also released a beta of version 6.0 of NetBeans, the program for developing Java-based desktop applications.

Version 2 of the open source Java EE for GlassFish adds enterprise application capabilities such as computer clustering, centralized administration and greater interoperability with Windows-based Web applications compared to GlassFish v1.

Version 9.1 of the commercial product costs $4,500 per four-socket system per year for a license and support. The sockets can be spread across several servers or in just one or two. That price compares to a version 8.1 cost of $10,000 per socket for a perpetual license and a support subscription for $2,000 annually.

“What we’re doing is basically matching JBoss on price,” said John Clingan, GlassFish marketing manager at Sun.

A JBoss Enterprise Application Platform subscription is priced at $4,500 for up to a four-socket server, according to the Web site of Red Hat, which acquired JBoss in 2006.

“We want to take price off the table as a decision-making [criterion] … so they focus on features and the quality of support,” said Clingan.

GlassFish v2, on which the commercial product is based, balances open source availability with enterprise-level features, he continued, including application clustering so multiple processors can be banded together to run a Web application, offering high-availability of mission-critical apps, said Clingan. “If a server fails, another one takes over and the user never notices the difference.”

The beta version of NetBeans 6.0 improves the integrated development environment (IDE) for creating applications, said Gregg Sporar, Sun’s NetBeans evangelist.

Users can customize their development environment by choosing only the tools that they need, he said, while version 6.0 also includes a new editor and enhanced support for dynamic programming languages such as Ruby and JavaScript.

“The idea here is to make developers more productive,” said Sporar, who added that the improvements are inspired by feedback Sun has received from NetBeans developers. Sun has embraced the open source community only in recent years, sharing the software code for the Java programming language and the Solaris operating system. Sun’s relationship with the open source community has been a work in progress, he says.

In the past when Sun introduced a new technology specification to the open source community, it would release the specification and some white papers on the subject, “and say, ‘Okay, you guys be careful out there,’” Sporar said.

“It doesn’t work that way anymore,” he said. “When you come out with a technology, you also need to provide developer tools right in hand with it, so you’ve got a complete solution.”

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