In this article last week I have compared WebLogic and WebSphere support for the latest JEE6 standard (which WebLogic does not yet support). However I am often asked if there any other standards and APIs that are different between these two application servers. One might look at the market share reports where WAS and WLS are within a few percentage points of each other and assume that there are no big differences between these two products.
It is true that JEE6 is arguably the most important standard for any application server product, but there are number of other important standards and APIs that are often needed when building an enterprise applications. Since 2007 IBM has adopted new release strategy for WebSphere Application Server. Instead of forcing its customers into full server upgrades when new function is added to the product, IBM now packages these new functions as Feature Packs available at no cost to all WebSphere Application Server customers and can be added to the product without impacting existing applications. Think of these as “Eclipse plugins”. Existing applications should not be impacted and re-tested as usually is the case with the full server upgrades. This approach allows IBM to innovate quickly and deliver new valuable function to those customers who need it. Below is a description of the Feature Packs available for WebSphere Application Server v7 and v8. Oracle introduced similar approach that they call Server Extensions, however there are number of capabilities and APIs that WebSphere provides over and above standard JEE programming model that are not available in WebLogic:
- The WebSphere Application Server Web 2.0 and Mobile Feature Pack helps developers create more interactive desktop and mobile applications. Standards-based technologies, including Ajax, REST Web services, and Dojo, are used to simplify and speed the addition of rich desktop and mobile user interfaces to WebSphere Application Server applications. A large collection of core services are also included, including new skins for a variety of mobile platforms (Blackberry, iPhone, Android, etc.), and innovative user interface widgets to improve the user experience. Oracle delivers Mobile client capability for WebLogic via its Application Development Framework (ADF) Mobile Client at an additional cost of $250 per server processor core.
- WebSphere Application Server includes “out of the box” support for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol). With Oracle you have to purchase a separate Oracle Communications Converged Application Server at significant additional cost. Customers also are required to perform separate installation and maintenance of this additional Oracle product creating unnecessary complexity and administrative overhead.
- WebSphere Application Server also provides “out of the box” support for the Portlet API (JSR 268). With Oracle you have to purchase Oracle WebCenter Suite at the cost of $125,000 per processor core to get Portlet support. Use of Oracle WebCenter also adds significant overhead and complexity to the relatively simple pure application server configuration.
- Additionally, the WebSphere Application Server Feature Pack for Communications Enabled Applications (CEA) helps developers add co-browsing, and communications capabilities to their applications without requiring detailed knowledge of SIP. Oracle provides no similar capability.
- The WebSphere Application Server Feature Pack for Dynamic Scripting (used to be a separate sMash product) can help enterprise IT to address situational application needs by providing a Web-oriented programming model focused on agility through the use of Web 2.0 and dynamic scripting technologies. The Feature Pack for Dynamic Scripting delivers the PHP and Groovy dynamic script languages and an innovative Web 2.0 programming model (AJAX, REST, Atom, JSON, and RSS). Oracle does not provide similar capability. Those customers who wish to have support for their scripting applications on WebLogic will have to invest in 3rd party products.
- The WebSphere Application Server Feature Pack for XML delivers critical technology that enables adoption of key XML standards and principles, including XSLT 2.0, XPath 2.0, XQuery 1.0. These new and updated W3C XML standards offer application developers numerous advanced capabilities for building XML applications. Some of the benefits delivered in these standards include simpler XML application development and improved developer productivity, improved ability to query large amounts of data stored in XML outside of a database with XQuery 1.0, improved XML-application performance through new features, improved XML-application reliability with new support for XML schema-aware processing and validation. Oracle WebLogic supports older version of the XSLT and XPath with all of the ease of use and performance issues associated with those older less mature and less flexible specifications. Customers who wish to use the latest versions of these standards with WebLogic need to invest in 3rd party products or upgrade to a more expensive Oracle SOA Suite at the price of $102,500 per processor core.
- I will discuss Feature Packs for Batch Applications and OSGi in future posts. Neither of these are supported by WebLogic Server today.
As you can see IBM has enhanced core WAS JEE6 runtime with a number of capabilities built into the WebSphere Application Server at no additional cost to its customers. Oracle strategy is to charge separate license and support fees for additional functionality.