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J2EE 1.4 OKs Open Source App Server

Officials at JBoss, Inc., announced the certification of its open source project, JBoss Application Server version 4.0, with J2EE 1.4 Monday, marking it as the first open source company to pass the version's extensive compatibility test process.

The certification makes JBoss 4.0 the open source project's first fully J2EE-compatible application server. According to company officials, the software has been downloaded more than five million times since March 2001.

The J2EE Compatibility Test Suite is comprised of roughly 22,000 separate tests to ensure the application using J2EE 1.4 meets the standards imposed by Sun Microsystem's "Write Once, Run Anywhere" mandate.

It's a time-consuming process, regardless of whether you're a Fortune 100 company or an open source project. To date, the only companies with a certified J2EE 1.4 application servers are IBM , Oracle , Sun, Tmax Soft and Trifork.

"I think it's extremely important, especially for IT managers who now have a viable -- now certified -- and much less expensive alternative to BEA [Systems ] and IBM," said Joe McGonnell, JBoss, Inc., director of marketing. "We think we're making middleware safe and viable for IT managers."

The certification marks a shift for JBoss, Inc., which, at one time, was locked in a bitter struggle with Sun over licensing fees that go along with J2EE compatibility tests and certification. In July 2003, the two companies reached an agreement on licensing, ending much of the debate. The JBoss company even joined the Java Community Process (JCP) -- the Java standards body -- two months later.

In order to reach its certification goals, JBoss, Inc., which is a paid consulting and support company around the open source application server, enlisted the help of its Founders Program members. Company officials credit Intel, Borland, IONA, Atos Origin, Sonic Software, Unisys and webMethods for their "significant commitments to moving forward JBoss and the vision of professional open source."

J2EE 1.4, the latest stable version of the enterprise-grade application development platform released late last year, was specifically developed with Web services in mind. Web services let applications by different vendors "talk" to each other, improving business processes and reducing integration problems. The application server is the key ingredient in a network, acting as the middleman (or middleware) between different applications and the end user sitting in a cubicle.