When considering application servers, J2EE-compatible products are the top of the line—its easy to spend $50,000 on just the server software.
However, a number of less-expensive—or even free—offerings have emerged that provide Java 2 Enterprise Edition features without the big price. The latest of these is Lutris Technologies Inc.s Lutris EAS 4, which costs just $4,495 per CPU.
EAS was previously a JSP (JavaServer Pages) and Java Servlet engine, but, in this release, it has gone through a major redesign to provide more enterprise features. In addition to support for J2EE 1.2, EAS 4 includes dynamic load balancing, failover and session persistence with its clustering capabilities.
EAS also has a decent new Java-based administration console (see screen). Using the EAS console, we could perform server operational management tasks, view the server log, deploy applications and edit deployment descriptors in Java archive files.
EAS 4 uses an unusually modular design based on an application server microkernel, so it will be attractive to developers wanting to embed an application server into an application. Heretofore essential components of a J2EE application server, such as the security layer or transaction engine, can be removed from EAS as needed.
Using the microkernel, developers can also write Java applications that do their own threading or network I/O, functions that arent allowed by the J2EE specification. Warning: Do this at your own risk.
A competitor to Lutris EAS that significantly lowers the barrier to application servers is JBossServer from the JBoss development team. JBossServer —whose roots, like Lutris EAS, are open source—is free and licensed under the Free Software Foundation Inc.s GNU Lesser General Public License. JBossServer doesnt support any clustering, but JBoss officials said clustering support is planned for the next release of the server.
Macromedia Inc.s JRun Server 3.1 Enterprise Edition provides J2EE features for $4,995 per server and is notable for its excellent administration features and eWeek Labs favorite JSP editing tool, JRun Studio.
Organizations should also consider whether projects even require J2EE features. Most application server vendors sell JSP and Java Servlet versions of their servers for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. The Apache Software Foundation Inc.s free Tomcat 4.0, released late last month, is a widely used implementation for these standards.