Pramati Application Server: Heterogeneous, cross-platform J2EE application server with excellent management, configuration, deployment, and troubleshooting tools
With the release of version 4.1, Pramati has improved its already excellent application server and once again proven it’s possible to purchase good product for a modest price.
Pramati Server made its first significant splash with its 3.0 release in 2002 by virtue of being the first Java-based application server to win J2EE 1.3 certification, beating out big players like IBM. The combination of being standard-adherent, efficient, flexible, and priced below the market leaders in the application server space have always been Pramati’s strengths. Most vendors are locked in a mortal battle to grab the business of Fortune 500 companies, and they don’t care to cater to the much larger SMB market, where organizations (understandably) don’t wish to spend vast sums for an application server.
Pramati, however, once again proves that spending vast sums to acquire a superior product is unnecessary.
Version 4.1 must be installed on any platform that supports JDK 1.3.1_01 or better, which is just about any Linux/Unix or Windows operating system. (See the certification page for a list of certified platforms.) We tested it on Red Hat 9 and a more up-to-date system running Debian version Sarge/Sid. Both machines were older single-processor Athlons with 256 MB of RAM. The installation took about five minutes, and no compatibility issues or weird glitches surfaced during testing.
One of Pramati Server’s outstanding features is the administrative interface. It is clean, logical, and well-organized. New in v4.1 is the Flash-based Dashboard. The previous version was HTML-based and did the job just fine, but the Flash Server Dashboard has better organization, digs deeper into server processes, and is completely configurable via its XML backend.
Documentation for v4.1 is considerably expanded and improved, another major improvement from v3.5. Many of the changes in v4.1 are improvements to existing features, such as:
- Improved denial-of-service attack protection
- Easy migration from JBoss
- Managing SSL certificates is easier and more flexible
- Alerts give more useful information
- Quality of Service (QoS) monitoring
- Expanded logging
- More tools for tuning performance
- Improved Java Messaging Service (JMS) bridge for compatibility with other vendors
- The Server Dashboard supports plots for a greater variety of statistics
- The Deployment Page displays complete progress information
- More flexible server role mapping, allowing one application role to be mapped to multiple principals
- Improved cleanup of JMS messages — dead message lifetime is configurable, durable subscribers can be unsubscribed, and the Purge command has increased deletion powers
Pramati Server works hard to avoid lock-in, a strategy opposite from that of most commercial software vendors. The Point-n-Run tool runs applications written for other application servers, including those for Tomcat, Apache, IIS, and WebLogic, without going through a migration process. (Remember Java’s “write once, run anywhere” promise?)
Pramati Server’s Deploy Tool is a big time-saver when rolling out new applications or migrating an application from another application server, rather than using Point-n-Run. It creates all of the necessary configurations and files, resolves database mappings, and performs validations and testing.
Other Nice Features
- First-rate content caching
- Command-line interface option
- Application rollbacks — if you upgrade and don’t like it, rollback is easy
- “Hot” manageability — changes server configurations without restarting
- Supports truly heterogeneous environments
- Supports scripting in Perl and PHP
- Enterprise edition supports clustering
Tomcat, Geronimo, and JBoss are all free-of-cost competitors. They are fine products that can be customized nearly any way you like. But they do not ship with the feature set and polish of Pramati. The big-name application servers, like WebSphere and WebLogic, are several times more expensive, have greater system requirements, and are more complex to administer.
The big question for any software product is, will it make my life easier? Will it save time and let me do my job more easily? With a lot of application servers, the admin is often left wondering what the heck he has gotten into. With Pramati, the answer to this question is a definitive “yes.”
Pramati Server is available in three server editions. The Web Edition is the least expensive but comes with only a Web container (JSPs, Servlets). It is $1,000 per CPU. The Standard Edition come with a Web container and EJB container but has no clustering or JMS. It is $2,500 per CPU. The Enterprise Edition features a Web container, EJB container, and JMS server, all with clustering and load-balancer. It is priced at $5,000 per CPU. An annual upgrade program is also available for 20 percent of the license price.
Pros: Clean, logical, and well-organized user interface; Expanded and improved documentation; Many improvements to already-excellent features.
Cons: Documentation does not define the different server editions; Direct purchase is cumbersome, and the reseller network is limited.
Reviewed by: Carla Schroder
Original Review Date: 12/23/2004
Original Review Version: 4.1