I total agree. My boss pretty much discarded his middle layer in geronimo and rewrote the php layer to directly use the database instead of webservice because performance was so poor on our critical monitoring website.
We use a lot of Java and it just sucks memory and performance like there is no tomorrow. We have one server that we just had to up the memory from 5 GB to 7 GB to 10 GB because the fracken java app was doing god knows what with what should be at most 500 MB of data. I'm sure its bad code and one day we will get a fix from the vendor but this is not the first time I've seen this though never of that magnitude.
On topic we also use a Java Webstart based thick-client HMI and not a week goes by that most I get one comment or another about how much memory it using on users desktops (minimum 256 but usually 400 or so) and how crappy it looks (using swing widgets). My laptop only has 2 GB and between this app, firefox and eclipse I have nothing left and for anything else and have to play games with what apps I have open or risk running off the swap drive. I've only ever used one Java client application that was so well performing, well behaved and nice looking that I didn't know it was Java and was surprised by it usually that is not the case.