When IBM shipped WebSphere Application Server v8.5.5 in June this year there were a couple of new license options made available: (1) Liberty Profile Core and (2) Liberty Profile Core for ISVs. I am very excited for these new members of the product family. This time IBM has done something unusual. ISVs are now able to use Liberty Core to develop applications at no charge and customers of those ISVs can deploy such applications without having to buy license and support for Liberty Core. I believe this move was made by IBM to address competitive pressure from Tomcat, Jetty and other free software.
You might ask, why do I like this change? It would seem that being IBM employee I would want IBM customers to pay for software, not give it away for free. The truth is that there are many small applications that do not require high quality of services and increasingly companies have been using Tomcat, JBoss Community and Jetty for those non-critical applications. I often hear that JEE Application Servers have been turned into commodity. Well, yes and no:
- Yes, because there is a class of applications where Tomcat or Jetty are good enough. Key word here being “good enough”. In other words the scale of deployment is small, security is not a big requirement, failover and availability are not a big concern, programming model is limited, etc. This is where WAS Liberty Core comes into play.
- No, because there are still many applications that are large in scale, require advanced user and administrative security, auditing, transaction management, automation, high performance, etc. For these applications Tomcat, Jetty and JBoss are not appropriate as they lack some of those capabilities (as discussed in other articles of this blog).
IBM has posted FAQ for the Liberty Core Profile for ISVs, but let me explain it in plain English. What this really means is that an ISV can develop an application on Liberty Core Profile and not have to pay license or support cost to IBM. When said ISV sells their application to a customer, ISV can chose to charge whatever they want for their software (or give it away for free). Customer can run the application without having to buy licenses for Liberty Core Profile from IBM. However if customer decides, he/she can sure buy license and support from IBM for the Liberty Core Profile – in other words paid license and support are optional with ISV applications.
It is beyond me why this “no-cost” option is only available via ISV applications, as it would seem that IBM could provide this option directly to its customers – (1) ability to run WebSphere Liberty Core with no support at no cost or (2) buy license and support – similar to what is available with WebSphere Community Edition today (Geronimo based product – not to be confused with Liberty Core).
PS. I have described new programming model capabilities of this new version in the previous article.