Confusion over the appropriate use of the software needed to power Web applications has led many companies to bypass low-end application servers that meet most requirements and cost 10 times less than the high-end products, Gartner says. In the last three years, the cheaper models were sufficient for 80% of the projects in a typical midsize company, yet 60% of the deployments were high-end.
Most business Web-site applications are focused on delivering content to the user and are therefore best run on low-end products that support servlets and Java Server Pages, technology best suited for those kinds of applications. Examples of such application servers include Enhydra, an open-source product; iPlanet Web Server from the Sun Microsystems/AOL Time Warner alliance; WebLogic Express from BEA Systems; and WebSphere Standard Edition from IBM.
High-end application servers are intended for large transaction volume and, therefore, offer more advanced capabilities, such as load balancing, fault tolerance, transaction management, and system management. In addition, the expensive software typically supports the Enterprise JavaBean component model and Java messaging architecture, which are important for reusing application business logic across various business processes and clients. Businesses should use a high-end server handling transactions, back-end integration, and high volume in conjunction with low-end products running less complicated applications.
"People need to take control and be responsible for their (computer) architecture and the choices they make," says Gartner analyst David Smith. "They need to understand that while they may have the requirement to have the capability of EJB for one aspect, that doesn't mean that all the different tiers in their system have to have the high-end application server. They can use the low-end ones to do JSPs, servlets and make calls to the EJB on the high-end one."