If you’re not familiar with Java Enterprise System, this is the middleware offering from Sun covering Identity, SOA, Application Platform, and High-Availability.
It’s called a System because a lot of work went into integration products upfront. There is the notion of “common components”. For instance only one version of a JVM is used by all products (still Java 5 for the time being). The end-result is a single installer for over 20 products dealing with dependencies, a single patching mechanism and now with version 5 a single administration infrastructure. Java ES is available as a single download (from 500Mb to 800Mb), but also as “Suites” for Solaris, Linux, Windows and HP-UX (no more compatibility matrix hell).
Main new products are Directory Server Enterprise Edition (DSSE) 6, Web Server 7, Portal 7.1. Support for Solaris Zones is another big features IMO.
I’ve been covering this product internally at Sun for the field sales and technical teams, tracking changes, updates and I can testify how much work went into this release. It certainly removes a great deal of effort on the customer side having this all integrated, tested and architectured from the ground up to be a system. Hope you enjoy it.
Of course, there’s also the business model side of things as well. The System and the Suites can be sold on a per-employee subscription basis. This is the other important part of the equation which makes the model tick.