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Sun's GlassFish Portfolio Adds More Open Source

There was a time when it was enough for middleware to be just a Java J2EE application server stack. Times do change, though: J2EE is now called JavaEE, and middleware needs are more than just Java.

To help meet the evolving requirements of the modern enterprise, Sun this week released its Glassfish Portfolio, which provides a JavaEE application server as well as an AMP (Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack, along with portal software and management tools.

With an integrated AMP stack that works alongside Java, Sun's new Glassfish Portfolio aims to help the company extend beyond its core Java application server base to provide a true middle layer for running enterprise applications. The release comes as competition from middleware players like Red Hat's JBoss and IBM Websphere continues to mount.

"We really look at it from the point of view that there is data in the organization and there is the presentation layer with the Web browser, and then there is the set of software that takes data and presents it in useful, meaningful ways," Mark Herring, vice president of marketing for Sun's software infrastructure group, told InternetNews.com. "What's we're saying with Glassfish Portfolio is we want to be the layer in between."

That's a critical place for Sun to be, since it's the layer that actually delivers applications. Glassfish Portfolio aims to offer a broad set of capabilities to deliver multiple types of applications. At its core is the Glassfish application server itself, for which Sun is providing two versions. The Glassfish v2 edition is the current main release and is based on the JavaEE 5 platform. The Glassfish v3 Prelude edition includes JavaEE 6 components, but it won't be finalized until JavaEE 6 itself is completed later this year.

In addition to the Java stack, Sun is taking the unusual step of also including its AMP stack. AMP is more commonly seen as part of the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack that's typically used in the Web tier for applications. But in Sun's hands, the approach represents an expanded version of the company's own Web stack -- an Apache, MySQL and PHP stack separate from the full-fledged LAMP stacks offered by many Linux vendors. Sun announced AMP in July 2008 with plans for support across several OSes, including a number of Linux distros.

Going beyond just the ability to deliver applications, Glassfish Portfolio is also delivering a portal application of its own, the new Sun GlassFish Web Space Server.

Herring said that the Web Space Server is 90 percent based on the open source Liferay Portal effort, to which Sun now contributes. Liferay Portal enables enterprises to build Web portals that pull in data and content from multiple repositories.

He added that Sun's version adds in some additional management and integration features to help tie in more closely with the Glassfish Portfolio stack.

Though the Glassfish server and the other elements of the portfolio are all open source, Herring argued that going with Sun's solution is a better deal for enterprises: Sun ensures the components all work together while providing standardized, supported versions. As a result, he said that the Glassfish Portfolio assures users that Sun can fix issues and deliver patches if required.

"There is a lot of innovation happening everywhere in the open source app space," Herring said. "But in order to create a portfolio that we felt we could support, we need to look at projects that are popular and those where we have expertise in and commit rights to. We think that Glassfish Portfolio is well-positioned to take open source to the next level."