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The New Standard for Web Development: Free Software

Sticker Shock Hits Home

August 5, 2002

The continuing economic uncertainty is making free software look attractive to a growing number of companies. For many organizations, the standard practice in Java-based Web application development now is to develop using open source tools like Jboss or Tomcat. While many companies, particularly larger firms, then typically switch to commercial Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application servers like BEA's WebLogic or IBM's WebSphere, some companies are choosing to deploy their applications using open source software.

"Companies are looking to get into ebusiness but they get floored when they talk to companies like Oracle and IBM about how much it's going to cost," says Gil Anderson, CEO of systems integrator Caribou Lake Software, in Minneapolis, Minn.

While many Fortune 1000 companies are using open source Java tools to develop applications, they usually deploy those applications on commercial application servers, says Anderson. That's possible because both sets of tools meet the J2EE standard, so migration is straightforward.

Smaller companies, on the other hand, are more likely to use the open source tools for production applications. "There's a lot of interest from smaller companies, in the $25 to $250 million range," Anderson says. "It's a way for them to get started in ebusiness without having to make a big financial commitment."

Caribou Lake recently completed two Web development projects using the open source application server JBoss, and STRUTS, which is an open source framework for building Web applications. A project of the Apache Software Foundation, STRUTS acts as an integrator of Java technologies, allowing developers to combine Java Servlets, Java ServerPages, custom tags, and message resources into a unified framework.