Officials at the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle said the company plans to announce that its Oracle Application Server J2EE Developer Preview has passed the compatibility test suite and is now J2EE 1.4-compatible.
Steve Harris, vice president in charge of Oracles Java Platform Group, said J2EE 1.4 "broadly speaking, is J2EE plus Web services," and that Oracle was instrumental in "pushing the interoperability of Web services to be a priority of J2EE 1.4." And Oracle contributed a significant portion of the tests in the J2EE 1.4 test suite, he said.
"We thought it was important to get this developer preview out early so developers can have a leg up on developing service-oriented applications on J2EE," Harris said.
Last September, Oracle provided an early-access version of its J2EE 1.4 developer preview, but the technology offered then was not fully compliant, Harris said. However, more than 25,000 developers have downloaded that code and become familiar with the direction Oracle is taking, he said.
Meanwhile, Oracle takes pride in being among the first to claim compliance with the J2EE 1.4 specification, while pointing to the fact that BEA Systems Inc., an industry leader in the space, has not. So far, IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and now Oracle have J2EE 1.4-compliant offerings.
"Its something were very proud of," Harris said. "Any notion that Oracle is anything other than a leader in delivering on the standards is removed from anybodys mind" by the delivery of the J2EE 1.4-compliant technology.
Harris said Oracle has invested heavily in delivering on its promises to provide standards-compliant offerings.
"Look at our competition, although IBM is out there [with J2EE 1.4 support], it will be quite a while before that support is integrated across their stacks."
Indeed, the release of the Oracle Application Server Developer Preview for J2EE 1.4 is "an interesting signal" to Oracles competitors that Oracle is definitely in the game, and in it to win, Harris said.
"Its no longer a race to be first to offer a preview version of the J2EE spec," a BEA representative responded. "Its important to realize that J2EE is only one of many important characteristics of [BEAs] WebLogic Server. J2EE defines some of the underlying machinery but is not the complete solution customers need to build and integrate enterprise applications. Many features, such as clustering, reliability, application security, application management, application integration, personalization, portal and the application framework, are not defined by J2EE specifications."
However, Oracle officials said Oracle offers all of that as well.
Meanwhile, BEA officials said BEA supports Web services interoperability already—via support for Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Description Language (WSDL), Java Management Extensions, SOAP with Attachments API for Java (SAAJ) and Java API for XML-based Remote Procedure Calls (JAX-RPC), among other standards— in its WebLogic Server 8.1 offering.
The companys pattern has been to support the latest J2EE features in the next release of its platform that follows the completion of the J2EE specification, BEA officials said. So, BEA will support J2EE 1.4 in its next version of the BEA WebLogic Server.
Harris said Oracle has appeared third in the Java application server space behind market leaders IBM and BEA, but that Oracle has BEA in its sights, as he believes Oracle is growing a lot faster than BEA is.
Harris said before Oracle released Oracle Application Server 10g in December, Oracle had 17,500 application server customers and BEA had 15,000, according to BEAs estimates. Since December, the number of Oracle Application Server customers has grown to 19,000 and "BEA still touts 15,000," Harris said.
Meanwhile, in a report released last week, Meta Group Inc. of Stamford, Conn., said that although IBM and BEA are positioned for "ongoing leadership" in this space, "Oracle is best positioned as a challenger to both IBM and BEA at the enterprise level. It has gained significant ground on the two leaders during the past 18 months, and META Group expects the gap to close further during the next six to nine months."
And that growth is coming not only via the existing base of customers who run Oracles database, but in new accounts as well, Harris said.
Meanwhile, Harris said he rarely sees Sun in competitive situations and has yet to see any erosion because of open-source application server offerings such as those from JBoss Group LLC and others.