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Few organizations can claim a homogeneous IT environment. For most, the reality is heterogeneous, and the ability of future IT investments to not only coexist, but even thrive in this environment is an important deployment criterion. As is expected with IT products and services, there are several providers of applications servers, including offerings from major systems vendors and ISVs as well as from the open source community. Given the variety of offerings, organizations could face a potentially confusing array of choices in their application server deployment initiatives. In this paper, we examine the role the application server has taken as well as review some of the more notable application server offerings available from commercial and open source providers. We offer our perspective on what are the most important criteria and considerations when selecting an application server and also review how the application server offerings from BEA, Oracle, and IBM in particular meet these criteria.
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