Bluestone Sapphire/Web -- An enterprise-level application server which offers a high level of reliability in a distributed setting
Bluestone Software helped pioneer the application-server field, so it's not surprising that its Sapphire/Web 6.1 product is still a leader in the market. And, if this recent release is any indication if things to come, Bluestone may find itself in a leadership position for a long time to come.
Sapphire/Web is similar to SilverStream's application server, in that it takes an integrated "development-platform-and-server" view of what an app server should be. But while SilverStream specializes in taking HTML and Java to their limits, Sapphire/Web lasers in on more sophisticated technologies, giving users the choice between Java and C, and supporting a slew of standards (including Enterprise JavaBeans, XML, COM, CORBA, and more). Bluestone Software helped pioneer the application-server field, so it's not surprising that its Sapphire/Web 6.1 product is still a leader in the market. And, if this recent release is any indication if things to come, Bluestone may find itself in a leadership position for a long time to come.
Sapphire/Web's development tools are quite strong -- which is no surprise, since it began life mainly as a development tool. The ability to implement both Java and COM is a great thing for those shops that haven't yet made a strategic (and often costly) investment in either technology. The smart money says that JavaBeans and COM will probably have to coexist in at least the near future -- allowing for both, Sapphire/Web takes a logical approach.
On the server side, Sapphire/Web 6.1 is surprisingly nimble, with both rule-based and event-based load balancing and failover available in a multiserver environment. In fact, it contains perhaps the best load-balancing and failover technology that we've seen: Bluestone claims that its "Fast Fail-over" technology delivers a 50 to 100 percent performance improvement on start-up of Sapphire/UBS application servers, speeding the application recovery time from 50 to 150 percent. In theory, end users should never see performance degradation even when there is a hardware or software failure. Plus, Sapphire/Web is scalable to the point where it can handle upwards of millions of simultaneous users.
Sapphire/Web is actually the sum of the following components:
- Sapphire/Universal Business Server (UBS) -- features the aforementioned load balancing and failover, as well as state management and application process isolation.
- Sapphire/Developer -- features the aforementioned application builder, which includes a Java-based GUI, source-code control, an interface builder and support for JDBC, XML, Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP), dynamic HTML, cascading style sheets (CSS), and DHTML.
- Sapphire/Application Manager (SAM) -- controls application deployment and transactions.
- Sapphire/Integration Modules (SIMs) -- data-integration modules that connect UBS to a wide range of environments, including COM/DCOM, Enterprise JavaBeans, PeopleSoft, CICS, CORBA, MQ, MTX, Tuxedo, Gradient WebCrusader and LDAP directories. Future integration with ERP products from the likes of SAP are promised for the future.
Sapphire/Web can be deployed in almost any environment, as Sun Solaris, Windows NT, HP-UX, Digital UNIX, OS/390, IRIX, AS/400, AIX versions are available. There's native support for Oracle, Informix, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, and DB2 databases, with additional support for any JDBC or ODBC database. Finally, Sapphire/Web will work with any Web server, including the Apache HTTP Server and the Netscape family of Web servers.
Sapphire/Web 6.1 comes close to fulfilling the promise of object-oriented programming: instead of descending to the code level for your programming, you can implement reusable objects, both menial and indispensable, to create applications and save making the choice for the final format (C or Java) until the time of deployment. And with a server that contains load balancing and failover, Sapphire/Web is a complete package that should be strongly considered when looking at an application server for the enterprise.
Pros: 7 Open approach to development (supporting both C and Java), 7 Advanced load balancing and failover, 7 Native support for wide range of databases
Cons: 7 Management tools are rough (difficult to get used to)
Total-e-Server: J2EE-based infrastructure; TagLibs technology; multiple development options; advanced XML integration; flexible deployment environment; unlimited linear scalability; customer-facing fault tolerance; fine-grained object support; global data source access;
comprehensive state management; advanced security features; Internet Quality of Service facility; unique Hot Versioning capability; comprehensive Web management tools;
Upgrade Meter: 5
Version Reviewed: 6.1
Reviewed by: Kevin Reichard
Last Updated: 7/6/00
Date of Original Review: 1/4/99
Unix - Sun Solaris, HP-UX, Digital UNIX, SGI IRIX, IBM AIX, OS/390, AS/400.
Windows NT - Intel (NT Server 4.0 SP3 or SP4)