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J2EE Vendors

There are several major vendors of J2EE products. The following sections provide a quick overview of products in this arena from IBM and Sun Microsystems. We'll discuss the offerings from Iona and BEA in the next article.

Sun Microsystems

As the creator of the Java language and the J2EE specifications, Sun is a key player in the web services market. Sun's vision is embodied in Sun ONE (Open Network Environment), a standards-based platform for building services on demand that can be offered on devices including computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless devices. The platform is a set of specifications and related products including Java, Forte Tools, Solaris, and iPlanet Server Suite. Java was discussed in detail in an earlier article in this series. The following sections provide brief overviews of the other products in the Sun ONE platform.

Solaris Operating System

Unlike the majority of vendors, Sun is both a hardware and software company. The operating system that powers its hardware is Solaris, a 32-bit and 64-bit industrial-strength UNIX implementation with significant market share, which runs on SPARC and Intel systems.

Forte Tools

With the acquisition of Forte, Sun considerably expanded its suite of development tools. The Forte tools allow developers to build native web services and wrap existing Java code using web services protocols.

iPlanet Server Suite

Originally an alliance between Netscape and America Online, iPlanet has been folded into Sun. Among other things, the product line includes an LDAP server; a web server; the iPlanet Integration Server (in two editions, EAI Edition and B2B Edition, which were originally called Forte Fusion and iPlanet ECXpert, respectively); and the iPlanet application server, a J2EE-compliant application server.


Another strong supporter of the J2EE platform and a key web services player is IBM. In fact, IBM was an early pioneer in establishing or helping to establish many of the key web services standards, including SOAP and UDDI. IBM has been exceedingly thorough in adding support for web services throughout the company's product lines, including the WebSphere product line, the DB2 database, Lotus products, and the MQSeries. Additionally, IBM offers the Web Services Toolkit and contributes to the open source product Apache Axis.

Some of these products are discussed in further detail below.

WebSphere Product Line

The term WebSphere is often used to refer to the WebSphere Application Server, a J2EE application server that has a substantial share of the market. This industrial-strength application server supports all the web services standards and runs on IBM's many operating systems, including AIX and AS/400.

Some other products in the WebSphere product line include the following:

  • WebSphere Business Integrator—includes business-process modeling features

  • WebSphere Portal—includes personalization features

  • WebSphere Studio—a development workbench

  • WebSphere Host-on-Demand products—for connecting to mainframe applications

Many existing IBM customers can adopt web services simply by using one of the many products in the WebSphere product line.

Apache Axis

IBM has long been a strong supporter of the open source movement and contributes actively to Apache Axis, an open source web services platform. (Axis is the latest release of the Apache SOAP Project.) Axis originally stood for Apache Extensible Interaction System, but most developers now refer to it as project Axis or simply Axis. The name stems from the use of chaining handlers to extend the functionality of the core Axis engine.

IBM also contributes the following open source web services products:

  • UDDI4J: a Java class library for accessing a UDDI registry

  • WSDL4J: a tool for representing WSDL documents as Java objects

Web Services Toolkit (WSTK)

WSTK is a freely available toolkit that includes developer tools for developing web services and a runtime environment for deploying web services—including a lightweight version of the commercial WebSphere application server (called Embedded WebSphere) and a WSDL generator, which generates WSDL from existing software assets such as Java classes and Enterprise Java Beans.

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