What is the TCO difference between WebSphere and JBoss?

I like funny computer error messages, such as this: “Three things are certain: Death, Taxes and Lost Data. Guess which has occurred.” I wish we had more humor in our IT business. Unfortunately none of those three things mentioned above are funny. Neither is misleading marketing. There is a great deal of discussion in the industry on the potential “cost savings” by using Open Source software. Red Hat promotes cost savings with JBoss by offering the “ROI” calculator on their web site. Unfortunately the only thing being considered in that calculator is the cost of software licenses. Red Hat knows better than that. Total Cost of Ownership is not the same as TCO. Another funny error message: “A crash reduces your expensive computer to a simple stone.” I guess the same can be said of the software.


Enterprises should consider all aspects of TCO when making decisions about their middleware choices. New white paper by Prolifics can help companies make those choices: “IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5 vs. JBoss EAP v6 TCO Analysis”.

Prolifics has compared the latest WebSphere Application Server v8.5 and latest JBoss EAP v6 from many different angles and found that over the period of 5 years “free” JBoss is 35% more expensive than IBM product. Particularly Prolifics has found that reliability, performance, ease of use, administrative efficiency, high availability, transactional recovery and security are key WebSphere advantages over JBoss. Prolifics experts who worked with JBoss EAP v5 did point out that new version 6 is an improvement over its predecessor, however it is a significant product rewrite with maturity issues and migration from JBoss EAP v5 to v6 is a major undertaking. At the same time the new capabilities of WAS ND v8.5 represent a significant evolutionary improvement over v8, especially considering the addition of the former WebSphere Virtual Enterprise product into the WAS ND.

Prolifics experts performed hands-on analysis of both products in their lab environment and documented their findings on 60 pages of the report. Based on their research, Prolifics has built a spreadsheet TCO model and measured cost of WebSphere vs. JBoss for small, medium and large environments. Are you interested in comparing WAS vs. JBoss TCO for your specific environment? If you are, please contact Prolifics and they can do custom TCO assessment for you free of charge.

5 years TCO for the large datacenter environment

TCO Category IBM Red Hat RedHat as % of IBM
Hardware $ 2,060,934 $ 3,114,308 151%
Training $ 84,375 $ 171,998 204%
Software License $ 2,623,920 $ – 0%
Software Support $ 2,008,815 $ 1,821,316 91%
Application Management $ 759,492 $ 2,570,500 338%
Infrastructure Management $ 1,533,834 $ 2,301,566 150%
Relative Risk and Downtime $ – $ 2,268,548
Total $ 9,071,370 $ 12,248,235 135%

Here is a quote from the executive summary of the paper:

QUOTE: “Prolifics first compared JBoss EAP 6 and WAS ND 8.5 for feature differences. We found that Red Hat has focused on improving performance and manageability with EAP 6 and has made significant strides in these areas. JBoss EAP version 6 is now faster and easier to manage compared to version 5, however, it has been a considerable change to the JBoss code base and still carries forward some issues of the previous version. IBM, on the other hand, who already had a high-performing and easily manageable product family, has focused on adding powerful new features to its stable and mature code base. A brief comparison:

  • WAS ND 8.5 now includes Intelligent Management, a unique feature set that includes Dynamic Clustering, Intelligent Routing, Health Management and Application Edition Management. JBoss EAP does not provide similar capabilities.
  • IBM has released the Liberty Profile for WAS, a lightweight framework that installs in seconds and significantly improves developer productivity and provides seamless transition to production WAS.
  • WebSphere has always provided role-based administrative security. JBoss now has administrative security enabled by default, but it is still not role-based.
  • WAS has comprehensive tooling to support audit of all administrative actions and configuration changes, and to restrict who may set the auditing rules. JBoss has no audit capability. This makes JBoss unsuitable for environments that require regulatory or industry compliance for information security.
  • The XA (2 phase commit) transactional integrity bug that was never fixed in EAP 5 still exists in EAP 6, making JBoss unsuitable for any application that must guarantee integrity of simultaneous updates to 2 or more data sources.
  • WAS has always supported code consistency across all members of the family, from WAS Express to WAS Base, WAS ND and WAS for z Series. The code base is also consistent across releases, and when migration is necessary IBM provides migration tooling. JBoss is a significant rewrite with EAP 6, meaning that administrators will have to relearn the product and rebuild their shell scripts used to manage JBoss.
  • IBM bundles JDK, LDAP, HTTP server, Cache, DB2, WLM servers and application virtualization (dynamic cluster management) with WAS ND at no additional charge while EAP customers must purchase the license or subscription for most of this software separately. EAP 6 includes some features of the open source Infinispan cache, but its capabilities are limited. (unless there is already existing LDAP, WLM and other software in place that can be reused). Note that JBoss EAP6 does not offer application virtualization.
  • WebSphere tops the SPECjEnterprise 2010 performance benchmarks; Red Hat has never submitted a benchmark for JBoss EAP.
  • WebSphere outperforms JBoss on Web Service hosting by a factor of almost two to one, and still outperforms JBoss on web applications.
  • JBoss EAP 6 is a major rewrite, and has all of the risks associated with a “dot zero” version. As of the date of publication of this paper there are no enterprise applications deployed on EAP 6 that we could find.

. . .
The conclusion reached in this study is that in most environments, while acquisition costs for JBoss EAP are lower, IBM WAS ND provides lower overall TCO due to its advantages in stability, high availability, manageability, documentation and performance. We also identified scenarios where long-standing defects in JBoss that still carry into EAP 6 would absolutely preclude its use when coordination of updates between multiple data sources is required.” END QUOTE

I have previously posted few articles comparing WAS and JBoss. You can find them here.

Funny how things in this life are. I had no idea at the beginning of this post that I will have to use this error message after having written this post and having to re-do half of it again because WordPress website went down for about 15 minutes: “Having been erased, The document you’re seeking Must now be retyped.” No, I did not get this error message as WordPress.com simply was timing out my connection. Not even 404… Talk about fate…

Categories: Cost & Licensing

Tags: , , , , ,

3 replies


  1. Developer point of view on the App Server debate | Why WebSphere? Blog
  2. WebSphere vs. JBoss license cost calculator « Why WebSphere? Blog
  3. WAS vs JBoss license and support cost calculator (updated) | WhyWebSphere Blog

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