Microsoft's App Server Technology Close Competition to Oracle

Study gives Microsoft’s application server technology high marks.

A recent Forrester Research Inc. report states that while Oracle Corp. sits at the top of the application server platform heap, Microsoft's technology is running close behind.

In preparing the report, lead author and Forrester analyst John Rymer cast the vendors' products within five scenarios, the first being an omnibus view of where each one sits in the market landscape. Here Microsoft came in second to Oracle, followed by IBM Corp., Pegasystems Inc., BEA Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Magic Software Enterprises.

Redmond notched another second-place showing to Oracle under the heading of Web applications. Rymer weighed metrics such as UI technologies and Web development tools, work management and server provisioning to reach his conclusions.

For Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) criteria, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM scored highest. While Rymer praises Oracle's SOA Suite for its strong integration with Oracle Application Server, he also gives a nod to Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), Microsoft's framework for building connected systems, which shipped as part of .NET Framework 3.0.

Pros and Cons
"With WCF, Microsoft has created a programming model for SOA-based applications. Once you establish a programming model for a particular style or type of app, you then are in a position to create very powerful development tools or management," Rymer says in an interview with Redmond Developer News. "... [WCF] gives Microsoft a framework to go and do what it does really well; create a really productive environment for a particular app scenario."

But the flip side of Microsoft's traditional approach to development -- tight vertical integration between the server, tools and the runtime -- is the fact that .NET is a "sole-source platform," in Rymer's words. Rymer says the company is focused more on interoperability than portability and is making a concerted effort at the former. "What they're thinking about there is they want to support open source tools and open source apps, on Windows. ... If they were to, say, port BizTalk server so it could run on WebSphere? They're not thinking about that at all."

Areas for Improvement
Rymer says Microsoft's app-server technology is overall strong, but there are certain gaps he'd advise the company to fill. "Business rules is a set of features I just don't think they're taking seriously," he says. "They've got a rules engine inside Windows Workflow Foundation and BizTalk. They're different, and neither one of them is adequate."

About the Author

Chris Kanaracus is the news editor for Redmond Developer News.

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