Enterprise Linux Log

Jul 12 2007   3:29PM GMT

Linux application server landscape shifts, but still beats proprietary software

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We’re working on another series at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com: application servers!

We want to know what’s new, what people are using, and why. We want to get the bottom of how things have changed over the past few years because, basically, a few years in technology is like 10 years to everyone else.

To get things started I had a few conversations with Robert Frances Group analyst Michael Dortch. In 2005, Dortch and the RFG put together a report on Linux application server TCO vs. Windows and Solaris. Linux won prettily handily in that report, but how have things fared over the past two years?

Regarding Linux application servers, Dortch told me the primary “heat” right now seems to be between Red Hat’s JBoss and IBM’s WebSphere Application Server Community Edition (WAS-CE). WAS_CE is basically a streamlined iteration of The Apache Software Foundation’s Geronimo. According to IBM (grain of salt alert), combined downloads of Geronimo and WAS-CE have been outpacing those of JBoss. We’re going to dig into that a bit with some original content later on this month.

“Also, WAS-CE is already certified for Java Enterprise Edition version 5, something I don’t think JBoss has achieved yet,” Dortch said. “JBoss will get there, of course, if it hasn’t already. However, I wonder if JBoss is still too busy integrating itself with Red Hat to devote most of its resources to development and support, where they belong.”

Regarding application server TCO, Dortch said that with enterprise-class application server software (and beefed-up versions of Linux and OpenSolaris) available for free download, “TCO” stands less for “total cost of ownership” and more for “take costs out.” However, to have a “totally compatible organization” often requires enterprise-class service and support, he said, and perhaps integration and interoperability assistance.

Even with the support hurdles however, Dortch said that the Linux route still ends up saving IT managers money in the long run. “These can cost money, but the overall costs can still be significantly below those of traditionally licensed software, especially running on non-commodity hardware. So from this perspective, the recommendations RFG made in 2005 remain valid, although choices have expanded and evolved dramatically,” he said.

Dortch’s advice to IT managers:

  1. Enterprise IT decision-makers therefore have to expand and evolve their focus, and that of their business colleagues, beyond dollars-and-cents views of TCO.
  2. These expanded views are going to have to include elements ranging from the availability, cost, and quality of service and support to “time to success” with new applications, servers, and services.
  3. Open source community involvement: Other important factors in many cases include the accessibility, relevance, and responsiveness of — and enterprise willingness to participate in — the developer and user communities surrounding chosen and candidate solutions. A growing number of enterprises are finding that participation and support of these communities generates direct and significant benefit to their enterprises.

But enough about that. What are you using today? Why?

Drop me a comment or send an email to me at Jack Loftus, News Writer.

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