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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

After losing the race for Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.3 application server certification to BEA Systems Inc, Oracle Corp has finally reached the finishing line,

Gavin Clarke writes

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Redwood Shores, California-based Oracle's 9i Application Server (9iAS) 2.0 is expected to announce J2EE 1.3 certification this week, the company told Computerwire.

Certification means Oracle can now fight leading application server rival BEA Systems Inc on a level playing field. San Jose, California-based BEA announced WebLogic Server was certified in January and launched a production-ready product in March.

The news comes as IBM, Oracle's other great rival, missed June's promised shipment of WebSphere 5.0 expected to be J2EE 1.3-ready. An IBM spokesperson confirmed on Friday that WebSphere 5.0 has not yet shipped but was unable to account for the delay.

J2EE certification is regarded a vital check-box to tick for application server vendors by both competitors and customers, because of this market's intense level of competition.

"J2EE certification is no-longer a differentiator. It's a minimum price to pay," said WebLogic Server director of product marketing Eric Stahl. "It's a ticket to admission."

"J2EE 1.3 is an important standard and our customers are looking for that," said Oracle vice president of 9iAS product marketing John Magee.

J2EE 1.3 certification is more significant for Oracle, after it lost its own challenge to be first. Company chairman and chief executive office Larry Ellison used his JavaOne keynote speech in June 2001 to bate BEA co-founder David Coleman.

"Lets have a race to see who gets to 1.3 first," Ellison said.

Oracle blamed its loss on the fact is did not submit a beta copy for testing, but used a production-ready product instead.

Magee partly played-down the importance of certification, adding additional features in 9iAS 2.0 add real value to customers. These include Active Components for Java, for application development, and integration with Oracle's authentication software.

Oracle now appears to have BEA, joint market leader with IBM, in its sights. IDC says Oracle is the fastest growing application server vendor, and anecdotal evidence suggests the company is winning business from users of Oracle's database who are running WebLogic.

Magee revealed the next version of its Java development tool JDeveloper, will support Unified Modeling Language (UML) for Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) 2.0, in a move to tip developers against BEA.

BEA, which does not develop tools, relies on partners like TogetherSoft Corp and Borland Software Corp who provide UML modeling for EJB 2.0 on WebLogic Server 7.0.

It is unclear where Oracle's certification leaves IBM, though. While IBM announced J2EE 1.3 certification for WebSphere in December 2001, that does not appear to actually cover the application server.

IBM's web site says that its WebSphere Technology for Developers is certified on J2EE 1.3, but the site also adds that WebSphere Technology for Developers is for development use only and is not to be used in production.

Delay means IBM joins Palo Alto, California-based Sun Microsystems to be the last major application server to not yet ship a compliant product.

© ComputerWire

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