Sun’s GlassFish Portfolio Could Change Middleware Game

This week, Sun Microsystems enters the open source middleware space with GlassFish Portfolio, a pre-integrated and easily configurable platform that offers an ESB, management and monitoring capability, a web portal for community development, and LAMP stack. IDN talks with Sun execs and looks at 7 ways GlassFish Portfolio could change the game for open source middleware.

Tags: GlassFish, Open Source, GlassFish Portfolio, Sun, ESB, Developers, Integration,


This week, Sun Microsystems enters the open source middleware space with GlassFish Portfolio, a pre-integrated and easily configurable platform that offers an ESB, management and monitoring capability, a web portal for community development, and LAMP stack.

Sun's GlassFish Portfolio release looks to leverage its successful open source GlassFish Application Server, which now boats some 900,000 downloads. The GlassFish Portfolio includes the GlassFish Application Server, along with the following new components:

I. Sun GlassFish ESB - A lightweight, open source ESB platform for department-scale and enterprise SOA deployments that connects existing and new applications to deliver content and services to the Web. The technology is based on Sun's Open ESB and the Java Composite Application Platform Suite (Java CAPS).

II. Sun Enterprise Manager - For enterprise scale management and monitoring of the GlassFish Portfolio including SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) support. Support to use GlassFish Enterprise Server also meets high-availability and high-scale mission-critical requirements.

III. Sun GlassFish Web Stack - A complete and fully integrated LAMP stack designed for developers wanting a light-weight Web solution. The GlassFish Web Stack includes Tomcat, Memcached, Squid and Lighttpd with support for PHP, Ruby and the Java platform.

IV. Sun GlassFish Web Space Server - Based on Liferay Portal, the leading open source portal technology, helps companies simplify Web site development and build collaborative work spaces, including portals and social networking sites.

An Integration Developer News
Interview with Mark Herring
Vice President, Software Infrastructure Marketing
Sun Microsystems Inc.


Sun's Vice President of Software Infrastructure Marketing Mark Herring brings just the right perspective to his role in driving enterprise adoption of the GlassFish Portfolio for enterprise middleware use.

As a Sun executive formerly working on Sun's cloud computing and Open Office initiatives, he know how important it is that any open source offering aimed at wide enterprise adoption meet two key factors: (a) interoperability with installed systems, and (b) ease of use and ease of customization.

Herring discussed with IDN how these principals have been implemented in the GlassFish Portfolio, along with many other key features and trends.

For middleware, "an integrated systems approach is important to availability and reliability," Herring told IDN. "In conventional LAMP stack implementations, for instance, sometimes a patch can come out for one [of the components] and it can destroy a lot of hard work," Herring said. "The GlassFish Portfolio is battle-tested for enterprise deployment, with special attention to the precise pre-integration work needed to ensure performance and reliability."

What Sun sees from customers, Herring told us, is the need for a comprehensive and quick-to-deploy option for their mid-tier. "They may not need to deploy all the pieces right away, but they do like knowing that the pieces are already there, when the time comes they may need them," he said.

7 Ways Sun's GlassFish Portfolio
Could Change the Game for 'Open' Middleware

Sun executives, GlassFish adopters, and some early bloggers highlight seven (7) ways that Sun's GlassFish Portfolio approach could change the game for open source middleware.

  • #1. Lower Cost. The issue with open source is the time and cost to integrate different components, and support. The 'activate what you need' platform strategy of GlassFish portfolio could save up to 90% time and cost from traditional commercial options, Sun estimates.

  • #2. Lower Complexity. Sun's decision to 'pre-integrate' GlassFish Portfolio's components could also attract many reviewers and adopters, as integration, configuration and alignment of different component versions can be a costly and tricky operation. Speeds SOA composite application development through integration with Sun's MDM Suite, Identity Manager, Access Manager (OpenSSO), Portal Server (OpenPortal), and Registry Server.

  • #3. Control and Management. Sun brings manageability and visibility into the end-to-end operations of an application or integration project. Cost-effective commercial support from Sun with via subscription. Offerings include: testing, documentation, certification, training, and indemnification. Optional live call transfer for high-priority production issues. Lack of control and support, especially when the business manager (and non-IT professionals) is cut out of the process, can be a stumbling block for many looking to adopt open source in key mission-critical projects.

  • #4. Consistency. Another key adoption feature, Sun expects, will be GlassFish Portfolio's uniform and repeatable implementation and maintenance. The GlassFish platform provides a standardized and integrated stack, helping to simplify management and decrease costs.

  • #5. Input. Developers and architects will also be provided "transparent and early access," to the GlassFish Portfolio components, along with ability to influence and contribute to the future GlassFish components through various communities for Open ESB, NetBeans and the GlassFish application server.

  • #6 On ramping Technologies. To promote easier integration by traditional J2EE developers, GlassFish Portfolio works with popular tools from NetBeans and Eclipse IDEs. Also, the stack offers transformation and routing capabilities and core adapters for HTTP and Web services. The ESB also includes a Java Business Integration [JBI] implementation optimized for speed by use of a normalized message router that allows work for messaging to be done in memory.

  • #7. Configurability and Interoperability. The GlassFish Portfolio also offers easy integration with current enterprise assets. It runs on a wide range of operating systems, databases, Web servers, and hardware platforms, and provides a "unified core" for SOA, and offers SOA and WS-* (WS-IT/Metro) interoperability with other platforms, Eases design, development and deployment of secure, cross-platform Web services that will operate seamlessly in increasingly heterogeneous environments. It is also compatible with a number of JBI-compliant plug-ins.


  • Sun Sees Enterprise Support
    for Open Source ESB, Middleware

    Herring told IDN that the "ESB is an important part of how the world works together," Because there are very few 'greenfield' projects anymore, once a developer gets beyond his pilot of first-phase implementation, "the ESB will prove a key element that allows customers to tie pieces together in their enterprise," he said.

    What about Sun's decision to make the entire GlassFish Portfolio available as open source? Herring was quite candid.

    "The way for big numbers of adoptions to occur is you need massive numbers of developers using it. It happened with Java many years ago, and it's been happening with the GlassFish app server," Herring said. "We now think expanding the GlassFish [open] portfolio will take Sun to where this next-generation of developers are hanging out..in open source and scripting communities. This new audience of developers really don't buy things. They join things."

    And, in that spirit, what tools will be available for GlassFish developers? Will Sun bring over the huge Eclipse community to GlassFish? Herring was quick to answer. "Yes, Sun's GlassFish Portfolio will embrace the Eclipse IDE, not just the NetBeans IDE. There will be no religious war [over tools] this time."

    Does Herring expect the GlassFish Portfolio might make SOA or other integration projects more agile, or less heavy-weight (as changed in some recent blogs about the 'death of SOA,' for instance)?

    In a manner of speaking, Herring sees GlassFish actually following the changes in SOA trends going on right now. "Thanks to web services and ESBs, some very key patterns of enterprise integration are changing. "In fact, we're already seeing the decoupling of application logic from [and-to] some data. We've supported those patterns in GlassFish Portfolio, especially with support for REST and our collaborative LifeRay web-based portal.

    As evidence of willingness to use open source for middleware, Herring points to the National Health Institute Network (NHIN), which choose Open ESB to support its project to develop a system to support a single healthcare record,

    Herring explains some of the reasons Open ESB was a good fit. "First of all, it was very easy to get started on a number of fronts. Developers didn't have to go through a long and complicated procurement cycle, they didn't need to bring in a lot of other third-party vendors, and the core functionality they needed was already in there." Beyond these reasons, Sun engineers provided NHIN with additional adapters to link to legacy systems not available in Open Source. "Sometimes a customer can't wait for the community to build key support a user needs, and so Sun's approach is provide users a backstop when their own IT or the community is unable to fill a critical need."

    "Many [integration] projects can use simple web services, or just REST, with a light-weight ESB -- no heavy-weight architectures," Herring said. "For these user scenarios, the GlassFish Portfolio makes for a rapid way to design, test and deploy practical solutions."

    Sun's GlassFish Portfolio is available now for review and download. An enterprise edition, with Sun support, is available starting at $999 per server/per year http://www.sun.com/glassfish



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