At JavaOne in San Francisco, a battle ensued between BEA Systems
CEO Bill Coleman, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. In a truly ugly
display of how contentious the application server market has become, they
argued over whose product was better, faster, cheaper. The keynote was
so rife with charges and countercharges that they had to hold an after-keynote
press conference to explain themselves.
is the leading Web Application Server vendor, with the largest market
share for their WebLogic product. Oracle hopes to be the new leader
with the release of Oracle's application server, Oracle 9iAS.
The purpose of the JavaOne conference was to extol the virtues of the
Java programming language, its ROI for business, and its speed of implementation.
This keynote speech indicated that there is more to the application server
war than meets the eye.
keynote started off innocuously enough, with BEA CEO Coleman speaking
about BEA's "future proof" concept of development. Coleman discussed at
length the wonders of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition), J2SE (Standard
Edition), and J2ME (Micro Edition for embedded applications). His presentation
was 85% "Java is so cool" and 15% "BEA rules". He discussed the concept
that businesses have to be "adaptive and fast", and that BEA is the "de
facto standard" product for these types of implementations.
Coleman spoke, things got interesting. Mr. Ellison took the stage and
spent the majority of his time shooting directly at BEA, complete with
charts and graphs. Some excerpts from his speech:
response times are 4-10 times faster than BEA"
- IBM claims
to be twice as fast as BEA, but Oracle has tested the product and IBM
is much worse
has to accept that other people will compete"
J2EE is much faster than BEA and IBM"
because you have BEA (now) doesn't mean that you have to have it forever"
And in the
piece de resistance, Ellison explained "They asked me not to speak because
it is considered impolite to speak about Java performance". Needless to
say, that didn't stop him.
In a follow
up press conference, Coleman's strongest reply on the subject of Ellison's
presentation was "Larry made them up on stage. We have real stuff that
real people use". He also stated that "talk and press releases are cheap".
fight at JavaOne is a good illustration of how the Application Server
wars are heating up in a major way. The major players now are BEA, IBM,
Oracle (they hope), iPlanet, and others. The concept of developing
a server application that can expose your internal data to the web in
ways that are acceptable to the company is very powerful, and it isn't
going away any time soon. Other, application specific vendors are now
hopping on board; the latest example is the recent announcement of an
SAP Web Application Server for SAP applications
at Sapphire in Orlando.
winner of this battle is going to reap major benefits. Up until now, most
companies have been coding their own "middleware" using technologies such
as CGI, Java, PERL, and others. Being able to buy an "out of the box"
solution is tempting indeed.
Customers involved in technology selections for application integration
products for web applications need to keep a close eye on the Application
Server market. TEC predicts that, after the inevitable fallout, the major
players will still be BEA, IBM, Oracle, and iPlanet (a Sun/Netscape
alliance). There will undoubtedly still be niche players, such as SAP,
which appeal to companies with specific application requirements, but
the more generic application server market will remain with a small number
of players. Customers should make sure that they perform a rigorous technology
selection process, but only after they have carefully defined their exact