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Pivotal packages a lighter Java Web application stack

Watch out Oracle, Pivotal is offering a lighter alternative to the Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) stack.

The company has collected many of its technologies into a single integrated package, called the Pivotal App Suite, that can act as a platform for running Web applications.

“What we’ve found is that most of the enterprise Java customers are deploying apps that use a small subset of the JEE stack,” said Randy MacBlane, Pivotal vice president of engineering.

The App Suite includes a number of widely-used open source technologies that Pivotal either oversees or contributes to.

Apache Tomcat acts as the application server. Redis provides caching, and the RabbitMQ provides messaging. Developers can use the Groovy programming language, which runs on the Java Virtual Machine, and Groovy’s Grails framework, along with the Spring IO Java development framework.

The package also includes the Pivotal tc Server, Pivotal Web Server, and the Apache Web server software.

Taken together, the package provides a “lean Java runtime,” MacBlane said.

Pivotal’s stack does not include a full-fledged JEE application server, such as Red Hat’s JBoss, IBM’s Websphere or Oracle’s WebLogic. So it can not cover all the use cases of a full JEE stack, MacBlane admitted. It doesn’t offer capabilities similar to the JCA (Java Connector Architecture), used for hooking Web applications into backend enterprise information systems. Nor can it execute complex transactions usually carried out through the Java Transaction API (application programming interface).

In these cases, Pivotal will partner with other companies to offer the functionality and, if there is sufficient demand, will add more software to its application stack. The company is developing a JCA implementation, for instance.

The idea behind the suite was to simplify licensing for customers, MacBlane said. Instead of picking individual applications to license, the customer gets the whole suite and can use only the components needed.

Billing is based on a per-processor, or per-virtual core (vCPU), starting at US$500 per year. The package comes with technical support from Pivotal, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For an additional fee, the company offers developer support, training and consulting.

Pivotal also designed the package so that customers can easily migrate their workloads developed in-house over to the Pivotal hosted cloud platform.

Workloads could also be run on Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine or service providers that support VMware’s Cloud Foundry.

Pivotal was launched in 2013 as a spinoff from VMware and VMware’s parent company EMC. The company collected various technologies developed at both VMware and EMC with the intent of offering data-styled analysis services and software stacks.

Earlier this year, Pivotal released a similar package of apps for building analysis applications, called the Big Data Suite.

The company has also developed a number of customized versions of its popular open source Java Spring development framework.

One is Spring XD, designed for big data-styled applications. “Spring XD is a nice bridge between the enterprise Java development community, and where the big data initiatives are going,” MacBlane said.

The other release is Spring IO, which contains Spring along with the numerous supporting programs and libraries needed to run the framework. Spring IO is part of the Pivotal App Suite.

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