The introduction of application servers into the enterprise is being driven primarily by the Internet, but is also a symptom of high levels of merger and acquisition activity, primarily in the banking sector.
Application servers are based on a mixture of Web, Corba and distributed transaction processing technology, and enable users to build and deploy distributed component based applications more easily.
The componentisation of this middle tier makes it easier for large organisations to integrate disparate systems because the application server acts as a hub to pull different technology together, according to Mike Gilpin, vice president of Giga Group, at the consultancy?s Middleware Choices conference in San Francisco this week.
Other drivers for the implementation of application servers include increasing globalisation, with organisations needing to offer constant access to services rather than undertaking overnight batch processing, and the need to improve customer response by making existing systems and processes more flexible.
As a result, IT departments are using a mixture of data warehousing and a middle tier application server to create a single unified view of all their customer information.
Gilpin said: ?The macroeconomics of the middleware market have evolved to try to tie disparate systems together, to create a fabric to hook everything together. The market is evolving to offer higher value solutions, and I believe that support for standards will make middleware more ubiquitous than transaction processing monitors.?
He continued: ?The application server market will develop much faster than client/server, which took about 10 years to mature. With application servers, it will be five or six. But we won?t have just two or three vendors in a steady state as is usual in most mature markets. There?ll probably be six or seven because the application server market includes different sectors.?
Some 15 per cent of development projects are already based on distributed computing, he added, but this was expected to grow to 25 per cent next year and 50 per cent by 2000. However, by 2003, distributed component based applications would still only account for one-third of all packages in the enterprise.
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