Page Three

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-02-10 Print this article Print

: Application Servers, Databases, Remote Access, Servers"> Application Servers

Getting a good buy in the enterprise database or application server space is more a matter of careful requirements analysis than anything else. The last few years have seen the maturation of a number of low-end to midmarket products that provide great bang for the buck if project complexity doesnt grow beyond their limits.

One of our favorite low-cost options is the The Apache Software Foundations Jakarta Project (at Its home to a number of high-quality, free, open-source products, including Tomcat, a JSP and Java Servlet application server; Ant, the Java build tool; and Struts, an up-and-coming template language for rapidly building Web applications.

eWEEK Labs uses Tomcat internally to run our Excellence Awards entry submission application. Its easy to set up on Unix and Windows systems, has a good security track record, and is very stable. We wish it had better administration tools (particularly for performance monitoring and log analysis), but, for hosting JSP-based Web applications, its a good bet.

Higher up the complexity scale (but not up the cost scale) are the JBoss development teams JBoss and Suns Sun ONE Application Server Platform Edition. Both are complete, free Java 2 Enterprise Edition Java application servers. Neither has the widespread third-party support, multimode clustering sophistication or administrative interfaces that market-share leaders BEA Systems Inc.s BEA WebLogic Server and IBMs WebSphere Application Server provide, but they will do just fine for many jobs.

—Timothy Dyck


The ultralow-cost relational database products MySQL ABs MySQL and the PostgreSQL development teams PostgreSQL provide proven database engines for simpler tasks. However, the feature and functionality delta between low cost and more expensive products is more pronounced in the database market than in the application server or tools sectors.

The free, open-source MySQL still lacks some major SQL engine features, although there is a plan to address these. At last months LinuxWorld Expo, the company announced a test release of MySQL 4.1 with support for subselects and subqueries. Version 5.0, which will support stored procedures and triggers, is planned for the end of the year. MySQL already supports transactions.

PostgreSQL, also free and open source, supports subselects, subqueries, triggers and stored procedures. However, it is still difficult to get working on Windows, and, as with MySQL, it lacks major database functionality such as online analytical processing, query precomputation, data mining, clustering, and sophisticated administration and performance monitoring tools.

IBMs DB2 Workgroup Server Edition (with pricing starting at $999 per server) is our pick as the best combination of a no-compromise database combined with a low-cost entry point.

At a base price of $60,000 per CPU, Oracle Corp.s Oracle9i with RAC (Real Application Clusters) is more expensive than other database server systems, but RAC can save organizations significant amounts of money in hardware.

—Timothy Dyck and John Taschek

Remote Access

Neoteris Inc.s Instant Virtual Extranet appliance allows IT managers to easily and securely Web-enable essential corporate resources such as e-mail and network file shares with a single appliance. The IVE appliance proxies all requests from behind the firewall to allow remote access to applications and internal Web resources from the Internet or extranets using standard Web browsers. The connections are secured with Secure Sockets Layer over HTTP, so remote users can ensure that they have privacy when accessing corporate data from the Internet or when sharing resources with business partners over a secure link.

The appliance approach is less complex than deploying standard VPNs because no client-side software is required, and the service can be up and running quickly. Prices start at $30,000 for 1,000 remote users.

—Francis Chu


Ease of use and functionality are two things that stood out when we looked at Apple Computer Inc.s Xserve last year. These two qualities make the Xserve, priced starting at $2,999, a good choice for small businesses with basic needs such as Web serving and file serving.

Apples decision to use inexpensive IDE drives instead of SCSI drives gives the Xserve cheap storage capacity. In addition, its ease of use and the absence of user licenses make Xserve inexpensive to deploy and maintain.

Another good server buy is the Dell Computer Corp. PowerEdge 1655MC blade server, Dells entry into the ultradense server market. The PE 1655MC, which costs $24,000 fully loaded, offers good processor density with a maximum of 12 1.4GHz Intel Corp. Pentium III processors in a 3U (5.25-inch) chassis.

In addition to hefty processing power, the PE 1655MC boasts plenty of memory and storage: Each blade can scale up to 2GB of error-correcting code synchronous dynamic RAM, with two dual in-line memory module slots and more than 140GB of storage with two SCSI hard drives.

The on-board Ultra320 SCSI RAID controller allows the drives to be configured as RAID 0 and 1 for better performance and increased data protection. In addition, the Remote Install software bundled with the PE 1655MC eases blade management and makes new blade provisioning a snap.

—Henry Baltazar and Francis Chu


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