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Sun Introduces App Server 8

Sun Microsystems has released the latest version of application server, the first major upgrade to the platform in nearly two years.

Also released was a software development kit (SDK) for enterprise-centric Java 2, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.4, along with supporting documentation. The latest specification has been eagerly anticipated among corporate software developers, largely because it addresses the need for Java standards in a Web services environment.

The Sun Java System Application Server Platform Edition 8 release, available on its Web site, brings the latest Java Specification Requests (JSR) and Web services standards with it, including Web Services-Interoperability (WS-I), Java Server Faces (JSF) application program interfaces and full support for the J2EE 1.4 standard.

Continuing its existing policy to give away the software, developers can download the approximately 35 MB file from Sun's servers and install it into their own machines, or bundle it with their own software and distribute it in original equipment manufacturer (OEM) style.

Sun charges a fee for support, though online forums, documentation and tutorials are freely available.

In a bid to win customers, Sun's FAQ page states customers can migrate applications built off competing platforms, like IBM's WebSphere, BEA's WebLogic and JBoss, with a free tool provided by the company. With App Server 8 support for WS-I Basic Profile 1.0, however, that isn't particularly necessary. Version 8 is also backwards-compatible with previous versions of its software.

Officials say the latest version requires 55 percent less space on server hard drives, freeing up space for older systems, and runs on Solaris 9 (x86 and SPARC), Sun Java desktop system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1 and 3.0, and Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000/XP.

Standard and Enterprise editions of App Server 8 will be available later this year. Developers can download the software here.

Sun's release of App Server 8 is the company's latest salvo in a war among enterprise application software providers to get their platform on worldwide networks. In December 2003, Sun launched upgraded software and hardware products under its "Studio Creator" moniker, a morphing of its Java Enterprise System, Java Desktop System and developer tools.

Ironically enough, the Desktop move was a bid primarily intended to supplant Microsoft , a nemesis turned partner after last week's bombshell collaboration agreement that ended Sun's litigation with Microsoft over Java. Sun, and Microsoft for that matter, have been sketchy on details over the arrangement, particularly on how their new partnership will translate into more integrated software collaboration like application servers.