Although the application server market will generate more than $US2 billion in revenues by 2002, the market remains fragmented and immature, according to Forrester Research.
Forrester defines application servers as a software server product that supports thin clients with an integrated suite of distributed computing capabilities. Application servers manage client sessions, host business logic, and connect to back-end computing resources, including data, transactions and content.
To meet distributed computing needs, application servers need to deliver applications to thousands or millions of users over the Internet; pull together legacy transactions, warehoused data, packaged applications, and rich Web content; and manage online performance and software updates.
As companies look to reduce costs and increase revenue with Web-based applications, application servers are positioned to become a basic component in the Internet computing environment, said Eric Brown, Forrester's US-based analyst and co-author of the report.
"Unfortunately, the current application server market is crowded and confused with more than 25 vendors offering incomplete or immature products," Forrester said in the statement.
By 2001, major players in the market will be narrowed down to IBM, Microsoft, Netscape, Oracle and Sun Microsystems through acquisitions and alliances, the company said.
Until then, large companies will "need to approach their application server commitments with tempered enthusiasm", and are well advised to assemble a list of suppliers, select an "anchor vendor" and complement the vendor's offering with "tactical gap- filling" products, Forrester recommends.