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Will Open Source Middleware Commoditize J2EE?

This is the question Richard Monson-Haefel asks, in a new report

Application development strategist Richard Monson-Haefel, who in July joined Burton Group as senior analyst for its Application Platform Strategies service, has authored a report that seems certain to set the i-technology agenda for the rest of the year.

Titled, provocatively, "J2EE: A Standard in Jeopardy," the report contends that the future of the J2EE standard is uncertain.

"Market forces, including commoditization, open source alternatives, new disruptive technologies, and the maturing Microsoft .NET framework," writes Monson Haefel, "will change the landscape of the J2EE specification and market."

A 10-year system architect, developer, and author, Monson-Haefel has architected and developed EJB/J2EE technologies and Web services solutions as well as founding two important open source Java projects: Apache Geronimo (a J2EE application server project), and OpenEJB container systems. So he knows whereof he writes.

Before working at Burton Group, Mondon-Haefel served on the JCP Executive Committee which oversees the JSRs (specifications) developed for the J2SE and J2EE platforms. He also served on the J2EE 1.4 (JSR-151) and EJB 2.1 (JSR-153) and EJB 3.0 (JSR 220) expert groups for the Java Community Process.

His argument, as outlined in "J2EE: A Standard in Jeopardy," is that proprietary application server players like IBM, Oracle, BEA, Sun, SAP, and Sybase will need soon to leave the J2EE standard to the open-source players like JBoss, Apache Geronimo, and JOnAS (Java Open Application Server) in recognition of the fact that, just as happened to Web servers when Apache came out and steadily commoditized that market, app servers too will now become a commodity.

The bigger companies should shift their research and development efforts into SOA and Web services and look instead to create the application layer above middleware, Monson-Haefel argues.

In such a scenario, it remains to be seen what Sun Microsystems itself proposes to do to keep the open source and Java communities aligned in order to maintain the existence of a viable, long-term alternative to Microsoft's .NET. Monson-Haefel's Burton Group vision is that what will emerge next is a "J2EE super platform" - and this, he says tantalizingly, will be the topic of his next Burton Group report.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Most Recent Comments
David T 11/05/04 01:52:22 PM EST

Here's what I think:

"Market forces, including commoditization, open source alternatives, new disruptive technologies, and the maturing Microsoft .NET framework," writes Monson Haefel, "will change the landscape of the J2EE specification and market."
- hmmm...you don't say ?

"proprietary application server players like IBM, Oracle, BEA, Sun, SAP, and Sybase will need soon to leave the J2EE standard to the open-source players like JBoss, Apache"
- At one point yes but remember that these big companies like IBM make more money from services than the actual server product. Most clients like the convenience of dealing with one company. IBM got it right by offering a complete suite of solutions (from Rational stuff to WSAD).

"The bigger companies should shift their research and development efforts into SOA and Web services and look instead to create the application layer above middleware"
- Of course, it's the next logical step. Can't build anything on the middleware if it ain't done. Right now there's a healthy competition (sun, ibm, bea,..) and that's good for the customer

Hope there's more meet in his report...

Next4UsAll 11/05/04 12:19:24 PM EST

Does a "J2EE Super Platform" just mean a J2EE Mega Fight between the top vendors, taking the current battle up the stack? Where/how will customers benefit? How long will this all take anyways, the report doesn't say maybe.

RicardoRules 11/05/04 07:25:51 AM EST

So JBoss wins the day, huh

Monson Haefel has my absolute respect and I look forward to watching the development just as he anticipates it.

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