It sounds like Coherence is moving more into direct competition with the high-end (mostly non-standardized) clustering capabilities offered by Websphere and Weblogic.
Coherence has supported transactional data and compute grid functionality for years now. We are very careful to avoid competing with our partners, such as IBM and BEA. (I am fairly certain that we do not directly compete, given how many of our customers use us in their apps that run on the high-end clustered editions of WebSphere and WebLogic.) We're not an app server or a container, and we work really, really well inside WebSphere and WebLogic (not to mention jboss and Geronimo and OrionServer and Resin and Oracle app server etc.) Our job is simply to make our customers' lives easier, and most of our customers use app servers like WebSphere and WebLogic.
There are clearly some differences..
In my experience, there are very few similarities. We do coherent clustered caching and transactional data+compute grids.
On the other hand, app servers over time are adding some of the features that we have, so I'd expect more similarities to emerge.
Is there a line that you don't intend to cross, or are you heading to a point where you offer (Coherence + low-cost non-clustered app server) as a direct competitor to the high-end products?
Our goal is to solve customer problems, nothing else. Our customers already have the app server problem solved, so honestly we don't get asked to provide an app server. Our customers already have good app servers (mostly WebSphere, WebLogic Sun and Oracle for big customers, and lots of Tomcat, jBoss, Resin and other open source across the board -- they're all very good at what they do).
So while we're very popular on the low end (e.g. a 100+ server J2EE clusters with a total hardware+software cost of less than $500k), we're also very popular on the high end (e.g. 24/7/365 equities trading systems, risk management, real-time compliance, credit card processing, package tracking and supply-chain/RFID, telco apps, airline/travel/hotel booking/reservation/pricing systems.)
We really wanted to build a company that wouldn't "get stuck in the high end". I have long believed that successful enterprise software companies tend to price themselves out of relevance -- and eventually out of existence -- so we've worked really hard to keep our software attractive to small- and medium-sized companies. While we have big customers with big applications (some that serve over 100 million pages a day or process tens of millions of transactions per day), we're also used by lots of small companies (there's a partial customer list at http://tangosol.com/customers.jsp
Java has created an amazing marketplace. You've got some good high-quality solutions for free, and in the same market you have extremely expensive (and often very niche-specific) software solutions. You've got successful commercial and open source companies. There are solutions from the smallest (PDAs, Phones) to the largest (parallel sysplex mainframes, 1000+ server grids). We enjoy our role, being a little piece of this mosaic.
Cameron PurdyTangosol Coherence
: Clustered Shared Memory for Java