Java Server Vendor Targets More than App Serving

In Internet years, application servers already are veteran products. By some counts, there are as many as 50 or 60 products on the market that can be placed within this broad category. That is why some industry participants suggest a shakeout is inevitable.

But Vision Software ( isn’t waiting for the shakeout. Company executives are saying the vendor isn’t in the application server business. Although the company’s Vision Jade product incorporates an application server function, plans call for that server to be detached from the business logic engine that the company claims as its chief differentiation.

"We see consolidation in that industry, for companies that provide an Enterprise JavaBeans layer," observes Mike DeVries, Vision Software’s vice president of marketing. "We see consolidation to be [among] the superpowers."

The company’s product, which includes a sophisticated rule engine that works with an integrated application server, has been adopted by a number of high-profile companies, including Bausch and Lomb, Hilton Hotels Corp., ITT and Shell Energy. Company officials say it is the rules engine that allows application development and deployment in one-third the time of traditional development environments.

A long term goal, says Jack Hewitt, Vision Software’s president and CEO, "[Is to] see Jade’s business logic layered on top of best-of-breed application logic servers." To pursue this objective, the company is working to move its logic layers onto other application servers, likening the move to the relationship traditional application vendors have with RDBMS vendors. This strategy is expected to insulate the company from the expected scramble to improve application server engines.

As described in an International Data Corp. ( bulletin, analysts Barry Plotkin and Steve McClure state, "While the Web application server is a key piece of technology at the infrastructure level, the business logic server integrates the critical rules and processes that drive business where it touches the customer rather than where it touches the plumbing."

In December, Vision Software took one of the first steps to support other application servers. The company established a relationship with IBM that calls for Vision Software to integrate Vision Jade with some of IBM’s key middleware technologies, including DB2 Connect, MQSeries and TXSeries. "I would view that [deal] as a down payment on the direction we’re [taking]," DeVries says.

The company recently completed a third round of venture capital and private financing, which infused $11.2 million into the company. Executives say the resources will be used for business development through partnerships with major companies, such as Compaq Computer Corp., Novell Inc., and Sun Microsystems Inc. The company also has plans to grow its regional sales organization.