Intel Continues Java-on-NT Push with Persistence

Over the last 18 months, Intel Corp. has invested in smaller companies to optimize their Java products for Intel servers running Windows NT. Recently, Intel took a stake in Persistence Software Inc. (www.persistence.com), a provider of transactional application servers. The amount of the stake was not disclosed.

The earliest of the Java ventures took place in December 1997. Intel invested in SilverStream Software Inc. (www.silverstream.com). The two companies collaborated to optimize SilverStream’s Java-based Web Application Platform for Intel servers.

Then in March 1998, Intel invested in WebLogic Inc. to tune the company’s Tengah Java application server to work on Intel boxes. BEA Systems Inc. (www.beasys.com) has since acquired WebLogic.

As with the two previous ventures, Intel and Persistence will work together to hone a proprietary product: PowerTier. The Persistence tool was recently released in its fifth incarnation to run on Intel-based servers.

PowerTier, a Java-based Web application tool, adds to Intel’s box of Java development tools. The most touted new feature is PowerSync, which enables multiple PowerTier servers distributed geographically to maintain real-time replicas of one another's caching data stores.

Other new features include an RMI over IIOP interface, which enables Java-based applications to communicate with CORBA objects using CORBA's native protocol, and support for Java's JDK 1.2.

"As part of the investment, we have a series of co-marketing agreements, as well as joint benchmarking and tuning of the PowerTier product on Intel architecture," says Chris Keene, president and CEO of Persistence.

Persistence inked a similar agreement with Sun Microsystems Inc. last June, which enhanced the performance of PowerTier on Sun’s Solaris servers.

"We expect the performance of PowerTier to improve on Windows NT systems, much the same way that working with Sun helped its performance with Solaris servers," Keene says. "The other side of this is that we’re getting involved with Merced now."

Intel claims the investment in Persistence is part of an overall strategy to offer customers the choice to use Java on Intel servers running Windows NT.

"We believe our customers have a choice, and if they want to do Java server development, we want to provide them with the best tools we can," says Alan Holzman, Intel’s director of middleware strategies. "We want them to be able to use Intel-based servers running Windows NT for Java development."

"In a strategic context, this is Intel saying ‘We’re a big company and we don’t want to hitch our wagon just to Windows’ star,’" says Mike Gilpin, vice president at Giga Information Group (www.gigaweb.com). "There are other ways people will be building applications, and Java is one of them, so Intel wants to enable the primary technologies that are available to run on Intel servers."

Microsoft Corp., on the other hand, is not merely avoiding investment in server-based Enterprise JavaBeans, but the company is actively resisting these technologies.

"This is a good example of where the Wintel duo have noticeably different interests. Intel is driven by different factors than Microsoft here," Gilpin explains.

Intel’s Holzman maintains that the company is not trying to persuade or dissuade customers from using Java. "It’s not a matter of Intel suggesting that people use Java," he says. "But we know that, for whatever reason, people are going to use Java, and we want them to be able to use it on Intel/NT servers."