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The rise and fall of the application server as product (A.K.A. app server commoditization)

Posted by felipeal on June 16, 2006 at 2:37 PM PDT

Much has been talked about the commoditization of the Java EE application server, specially now that 2 servers (Sun's Glassfish and Apache's Geronimo) are available under 'unrestricted' open-source licenses (JBoss and JOnAS are also open-source software and have been out there for more time, but they are licensed thorugh LGPL, and therefore cannot be modified unless the modifications are also made available as OSS).

So, is the commoditization of the application server a true trend or just a speculation?

Well, given the number of certified servers over the Java EE versions, looks like the trend is true:

So, we had a rise up to J2EE 1.3 and a fall afterwards, with only 13 J2EE 1.4 and so far only 2 Java EE 5 application servers available (even though Glassfish - the Reference Implementation - was developed under the OSI-approved CDDL license).

I know it's too early to analyze the JavaEE 5 arena (I'm sure JBoss, IBM and WebLogic will come with their implementation as well), but the J2EE 1.4 numbers show the trend is true: the JSR-151 specifiation has been out there for almost 3 years and the total number of servers available is less than 50% of its predecessor, J2EE 1.3 - not to mention that many servers took years to be ready.

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