In 2000, Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) defined application server platforms as the convergence of the application server, portal server, and the integration server. Since then, IBM, Microsoft, and the other major platform vendors have developed application server platforms that will be crucial for new service-oriented and composite applications. To help clients select application server platforms and make smarter business decisions, Forrester announces a new TechRankings™ category: Application Server Platforms TechRankings.

The Application Server Platforms TechRankings includes six global market leaders:

  • BEA Systems
  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • Sun Microsystems
  • SAP — forthcoming

Forrester finds six key differentiators among approximately 300 criteria used in the evaluation:

  • Architecture. How well is the platform built for delivering stability, performance, and scalability?
  • Development. How well does the platform support the development of composite applications?
  • Administration and management. Does the platform have the features required to administer and manage composite applications end to end?
  • Availability and reliability. How cohesive and extensive are each vendor’s cluster management facilities?
  • Standards and interoperability. Which vendor-neutral standards does the platform support? What major third-party products does the platform interoperate with?
  • Cost. Which platforms offer the most function at the most efficient cost?

An Emerging Category
“While application servers like BEA WebLogic and IBM WebSphere are well-understood products, application server platforms are still an emerging category. We are impressed with the progress that the major vendors have made in creating integrated platforms, but there’s a lot of work yet to be done,” said John R. Rymer, vice president at Forrester. “Many of the application server platforms are not well-integrated, and managing them can be quite complex. However, BEA and Oracle are furthest along in terms of integration.”

Other findings:

  • Sun’s employee-based pricing model is more attractive than the per-CPU models of the other vendors.
  • IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle are leading the way with BPEL-based development and execution.
  • BEA is the only vendor to offer a unified programming model for composite applications.
  • Oracle’s management features were surprisingly broad and strong.
  • Microsoft’s development tools for composite applications were strongest when the new InfoPath product was used instead of Sharepoint Portal Services.

Forrester’s “How To Evaluate Application Server Platforms” report and the TechRankings research mentioned in this press release are available to Forrester WholeView 2™ clients and can be found through