SilverStream smooths Web site workings

Agencies that plan to build World Wide Web-based transactional applications will want to include SilverStream 3.0 as part of the evaluation process. This application server and development toolkit offers highly visual development tools, a full Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) implementation, good performance and competitive pricing when compared with its rivals.

This version's biggest hurdle is just getting through the installation process. I'd suggest following the installation steps closely to ensure a successful completion. Once set up, though, SilverStream is a joy to work with. The company has included several other components with the application server, such as Sybase Inc.'s Adaptive Server Anywhere (for development purposes), a search engine, e-mail serving, an object broker and connectors to back-end resources, such as SAP America Inc.'s enterprise resource planning software.

SilverStream compares favorably with its competitors, such as BEA System Inc.'s WebLogic, IBM Corp.'s WebSphere and Lutris Technologies Inc.'s Enhydra. WebLogic does offer more sophisticated options for load-balancing, while WebSphere can be implemented on a wider number of platforms (including AS/400). Enhydra has just become available as a commercial application server (its roots are in open source), though it is ramping up on J2EE and expanding its platform reach. SilverStream is well matched against all of those competitors.

I've always liked SilverStream's integrated development tools, and this release brings even more improvement to the built-in tools. An integrated debugger has been added, and it is easy to set breakpoints and look at variables in the interface provided. SilverStream also enables developers to use other Java tools if they prefer.

By offering support for built-in development tools and linkage to other Java tools, SilverStream is providing the best of both worlds. Many other application servers do not provide any development tools but assume that the developer will use a tool of his or her choosing.

SilverStream is also developer- friendly in other respects. The company has created a developer version of the product and includes the Sybase desktop-grade database, SQL Anywhere, so developers can easily test their applications. In production, SilverStream applications can work with major enterprise databases, including Oracle.

I found it straightforward to create a test application for accessing and updating a Lotus Development Corp. Domino back-end resource that I had available. Creating the client portion of the application was easy, given the tools provided, and the server-side logic was equally simple to create.

Administrators who need to support the server in an n-tier environment will also find SilverStream quite friendly. The administration panels are straightforward, and little training will be needed to understand how to manage the deployed applications.

The SilverStream application server supports clustering and load-balancing, and it provides administrators with easy access to setting parameters for the production environment.

My only real complaints with SilverStream are that there is not a Linux version and support for Java server pages is not integrated into the built-in development and debugging tools.

Otherwise, if you are tasked with evaluating application-server technology for your agency, take SilverStream out for a spin. Its built-in functionality, integration with other products and resources, ease of use, power and performance will be a good match for the majority of requirements you might have for Web-based transaction applications.

Biggs is director of the InfoWorld Test Center. She has more than 15 years of IT experience and writes the InfoWorld Enterprise Toolbox column.


SilverStream 3.0

Score: A

SilverStream Software Inc.

(888) 823-9700

Price and availability: SilverStream is available on the open market for $15,000 per CPU, $2,500for the developer version that supports five developers.

Remarks: SilverStream is a solid application server that is implemented on themiddle tier to support World Wide Web-based transactional applications.Development aids, peppy performance, back-end connectors and a reasonableprice make it a good fit for many agencies.

BY Maggie Biggs
June 19, 2000

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