Do we really need Web Application Servers?

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Introduction

Industry giants like IBM, Weblogic and Oracle will let us believe we do and not for nothing. They  have interests in selling their products and licenses to us.

But is it really necessary?

In this article we will compare some of the expensive and slow high-end Application Servers with a few Open Source alternatives like Apache Tomcat and Eclipse Jetty.

I worked with several Web Application Servers (IBM WebSphere, Weblogic and GlassFish and in my opinion they don’t add any value to the free and Open Source Servlet Containers like Apache Tomcat or Eclipse jetty:// (except for slowness and sluggyness).

Actually if you really want a Web Application Server, you should first try Apache Geronimo  (Which is actually WebSphere Application Server in an Open Source version). Or Red Hat’s JBoss Enterprise Application Server (Open Source).

Both are full featured Web Application Servers which which do not fall for Websphere or Weblogic.

Then why would anyone still buy the expensive Web Application Servers?

I can’t tell because I don’t know. I can only make some guesses:

  • The big companies work with budgets, which are determined from the expenses from the year before, so in order to keep their budgets the procurement departments of those companies need to make sure to keep their expenses at a steady (high) level.
  •  The sales departments of the Web Application Server companies work very aggressive and intimidate the buyers, who believe in their nice stories and buy expensive licenses.
  • Most big companies and organizations use “preferred suppliers” and are “forced” to buy from them. This is usually pure politics and corruption. Board Members have interests in the supplying companies and therefore the suppliers get on the list of “preferred suppliers”.

Conclusion

In a different article I already showed that Apache Tomcat can work excellent in a 100.000 + Enterprise Organization. And therefore my conclusion is that nobody needs Web Application Servers unless your business is a large (Enterprise) organization, ruled by corrupt board members you probably don’t need any Web Application Servers. You are in 99+ % better off by using the free and Open Source Servlet Containers which are much faster anyway and don’t consume heavy and expensive hardware.

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