Despite consolidation in the web application server market, choices are not getting any easier for users looking for midtier software platforms. But smaller vendors are looking to ease the pain by making gains in products and feature sets.
With former leaders Kiva Software Corp. and NetDynamics Inc. now the properties of larger companies, four smaller vendors — Allaire Corp., Novera Software Inc., Secant Technologies Inc. and Commence Corp. — are vying to be leaders in offering scalability, EJB (Enterprise JavaBean) support and prebuilt Web applications.
“With the number of products being released, it’s a difficult thing to keep a grasp on what’s out there,” said Brett Stauning, director of technology at Information Management Systems Inc., in St. Paul, Minn. “Some are better at certain things than others. The one you choose is going to depend on the … problem you’re trying to solve.”
Indeed, each vendor has a particular niche to fill. Allaire has enhanced its ColdFusion Application Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition, scheduled to ship in the fall, to manage enterprise applications, with new scalability, clustering, load balancing, failover and state management features.
“The biggest thing in ColdFusion 4.0 is they’re trying to make it easy to scale your application,” said Doug Nottage, director of advanced technologies at Autobytel.com Inc., in Irvine, Calif. “We don’t have to do a lot of code redesign to make it happen.”
In addition, new security features include authentication and controls that allow developers to share the same server without having access to each other’s resources. Pricing for the upgrade for Windows NT and Solaris has not been released.
Novera will extend its EJB support this fall in the company’s jBusiness application server, which enables users to manage components from a central console on any workstation on the network. Novera also will add EJB support in the object-to-relational database mapping tool that ships with the server. Pricing is not yet available.
Also on the EJB front, Secant Technologies plans to release Secant Extreme Enterprise Server at the end of this month with enhanced Common Object Request Broker Architecture and EJB features as well as automatic state and session management. The product will run on Windows 95, Windows NT, Solaris, AIX and HP/UX. A version for AS/400 is planned.
Finally, Commence’s latest Allure server comes with 18 prebuilt business applications — including order tracking, customer self-service, customer feedback, product promotion and knowledge base — for small and medium-size businesses. Allure, which shipped last week on NT, Windows 95 and Windows 98 for $9,995, is bundled with a database and a workgroup server.
“The real powerful thing about Allure is it allows you to leverage the data from Commence applications and publish that on the Internet,” Stauning said. “You can use some of the prebuilt applications they have, but like any other software, you’ll probably have to customize it.”