Sun Touts Productivity Boost with iPlanet 6.5

Better support for Web services

Sun Microsystems Inc. released the 6.5 version of its iPlanet Application Server today, enhancing the platforms support for Web services and adding a number of new features intended to help developers deploy solutions more quickly.

“Our focus with this release of iPlanet was on developer productivity,” says Patrick Dorsey, a product marketing manager for Sun’s iPlanet group. And Dorsey says, according to preliminary results, users of iPlanet 6.5 have been constructing solutions up to 10 times faster than they were with previous editions of the AS.

Last year, Sun launched the iPlanet Application Framework under its early-access program for developers. The framework, which is essentially a system of best practices with reusable Java classes and JavaBeans for application developers, has now been integrated with iPlanet as part of the 6.5 release. Dorsey credits the integrated design platform for the productivity improvement developers are getting from iPlanet 6.5.

Through the early-access program, the iPlanet Application Framework received approximately 100 downloads, says Dorsey. Of those downloads, Sun has identified 30 mission-critical deployments in which the offering has been used. According to customer feedback, coding can be reduced by more than 1,000 percent by implementing the framework’s best practices and reusable elements.

On the Web services front, Sun has integrated the iPlanet application server with its Forte for Java developer tools platform. In doing so, developers can now use a wizard to render Java classes and EJBs as Web services. With previous versions of iPlanet, developers had to manually create wrappers in order to render Web services. Wizards are also now available for rendering workflows and business processes as Web services

In addition, Sun has added support for JMS (Java Messaging Service), an application programming interface for connecting Java programs to messaging middleware. Through JMS, iPlanet AS can now connect to the iPlanet Message Queue. Prior to the 6.5 release, iPlanet AS could only connect to other JMS compliant message queues, such as IBM Corp.’s WebSphere MQ.

Sun formed its iPlanet division following the formation of the Sun-Netscape alliance, and has since been trying to compete with market leaders IBM and BEA Systems in the middleware space. However, it has been somewhat behind both companies in its adoption of Web services, which many view as a key technology going forward for application server vendors. Still, Dorsey believes iPlanet is on track to challenge both IBM and BEA for market supremacy.

“We believe, with iPlanet becoming a part of Sun, we will have a good chance of overtaking the leaders in this market for application server marketshare,” says Dorsey.

Most industry analysts predict IBM and BEA will remain at the top of this market for some time to come, though. Deborah Hess, a senior analyst with Gartner, predicts, however, there will be enough action in the application server market to support more than just two vendors. She says, the emergence of Web services will boost demand in the application server market. “The leading application vendors are in good shape,” says Hess.

Sun’s iPlanet 6.5 Application Server comes equipped with new developer resources, including sample applications for SOAP, UDDI, CORBA, and JMS. It is also packaged with a Web-based training module. The Enterprise Edition of iPlanet 6.5 AS will be available in March, 2002 for $19,995 per CPU.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.