Staff Writer, CNET News.com
More than a year after creating a Java server software suite, Sun Microsystems is breaking that package into smaller components in an effort to make the software easier to try.
Sun's Java Enterprise System is a collection of server software components for handling a number of tasks, such as running Java-based Web applications, verifying network access and messaging. In tandem with the suite's introduction, Sun adopted a subscription model—a yearly per-employee pricing plan.
The suite bundle and pricing, refreshed products and developer outreach are the basis of the company's attempt to boost its revenue from Java server software. That market is dominated by IBM and BEA Systems and is seeing more competition from Sun, Oracle, JBoss and other open-source alternatives.
Sun's latest salvo in the server software battle is five packages derived from the full Java Enterprise System—and a new pricing plan—which the company is expected to introduce Tuesday.
The packages and new pricing—by which customers can get a subset of the full Java server bundle for $50 per employee per year, rather than $140 per employee—are aimed at giving Sun a foothold in customer accounts, which may already have Java server software in place.
"These bundles are just more on-ramps to the Java Enterprise System," said Joe Keller, Sun's vice president of marketing for Java Web services and developer tools. "It's easier to get started, and there are fewer concerns with the level of commitment."
The new Java Application Platform suite is a general-purpose product set targeted at large businesses that are looking to write Web services applications. It includes the enterprise edition of Sun's application server; high-availability software; portal software for mobile devices; software provisioning tools; and Sun's Java development tools, Java Studio Enterprise and Java Studio Creator.
Another new product, the Java System Web Infrastructure, is designed to appeal specifically to medium-size companies and to departments in large organizations, Keller said. It includes a stripped-down version of the application server; a network directory server; development tools and other Web server tools.
Sun has also created suites for communications and messaging; high availability; and identity management software, for securing network access.
The five new suites cost $50 per employee per year. The full Java Enterprise System suite, which used to cost $100 per employee, now costs $140. Keller noted that the full suite gained a number of additions, including Java development tools, mobile software and the N1 Grid provisioning system.
The expanded product portfolio addresses one of the challenges that the Java Enterprise System has had since its inception: the blanket per-employee license and fully loaded package can be an inhibitor to its adoption, analysts said. Companies may only want to acquire the server software to address a specific purpose, noted Pierre Fricke, an analyst at D.H. Brown.
Fricke said the new suites make sense for Sun, but the company is still fighting an uphill battle in the marketplace. He noted that Sun lacks a product specifically designed for integration, which competitors IBM and BEA have. And JBoss' application server is used by several software partners and is popular with developers.
"JES (Java Enterprise System) put them back in the market," said Fricke. "And while they have a competitive offering with JBoss on price, they haven't addressed the ecosystem that JBoss is bringing to the table."