By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2004-01-26 Print this article Print

In a bid to make its network services software simpler to purchase, install and maintain, Sun Microsystems Inc. has rolled its directory, Web and collaboration server products into an integrated whole called Java Enterprise System. In eWEEK Labs tests, we were impressed by the speed with which we got up and running with JES. It took us less than 2 hours to install and configure a test server with directory, identity, messaging, calendar and portal services—all with single sign-on.

However, theres plenty of room for improvement in the JES management tools, which betray in places the separate-product heritage of these components. While certain configurations are organized together, others require visits to separate management interfaces. The JES management tools are much less slick than those that ship with Microsoft Corp.s Windows Server 2003, and in certain cases, setup tasks required manual configuration file tweaks.

Suns initial JES release, which began shipping this month at a subscription price of $100 per employee per year, includes 13 network service components, all of which can be installed in a single process and managed with common tools.

The per-employee price model means that companies can provide services, such as access to project-specific portals and calendars, for partners and customers without additional cost.

JES is well-integrated and flexible and is a good fit for organizations looking to deploy a set of key network services for employees and partners.

Included in JES are Suns Directory Server 5.2, Identity Server 6.1, Directory Proxy Server 5.2, Application Server 7 Platform and Standard editions, Message Queue 3.0.1 Platform and Enterprise editions, Web Server 6.1, Portal Server 6.2, Portal Server Secure Remote Access 6.2, Messaging Server 6.0, Calendar Server 6.0, and Instant Messaging 6.1. We didnt test the message queue, instant messaging or directory proxy server, nor did we test Sun Cluster 3.1, which is also included.

In assembling JES, Sun has synchronized the release schedules of these components with updates set to arrive about four times a year. This makes sense because the components depend heavily on one another. By delivering them together, Sun can better maintain compatibility among the pieces. (Components will still be available separately.)

While integration is JES biggest draw, the system maintains impressive flexibility by sticking to open standards. Its not necessary to deploy every component that comes with the system, and a company deploying JES could opt for a different application server for an LDAP directory.

For companies with 5,000 or more employees, the JES subscription price includes Sun consulting services, which could help companies integrate the portions of JES theyd like to deploy with their existing infrastructure. Sun also includes training credits with subscriptions of 5,000 or more employees.

Of course, companies that swap out JES components for alternatives will lessen the systems integration benefits. The pieces that compose JES are strong. For example, Version 6.0 of Suns identity server was an eWEEK Excellence Awards finalist last year, and weve been impressed in the past with Suns directory server.

As of this release, JES runs on Solaris 8 and 9 on the SPARC platform and on Solaris 9 for x86. We tested JES on a Sun Fire V440 running Solaris 9. Sun plans to extend support to Linux on x86—specifically, Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution—in the next version. The addition of Linux support will make JES quite a bit more attractive because it will provide a great deal more flexibility with x86 hardware than is possible with Solaris x86.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at jason_brooks@ziffdavis.com.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

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