GlassFish Commercial is Dead, WildFly and JBoss EAP to the Rescue

I, along with several others, spent 6+ years at Oracle creating and nurturing the GlassFish community. ~852 blog entries on blogs.oracle.com/arungupta/tags/glassfish vouch for that. I still remember when our team got a presidential award at Sun Microsystems for growing the downloads from 0 to 5 million in 3 years. I was also popularly known as “GlassFish Guy” all around the world. Lots of fond memories …

left Oracle and joined Red Hat a little over 4 weeks ago. Even though we have a competing (better 😉 project in WildFly and product in JBoss EAP but will always have high respect for GlassFish. It is the Reference Implementation as required by JCP and so by design will be always at the leading edge of technology. One of common myths I had to unravel all the time was that GlassFish can be used as a production application server because Sun/Oracle offered commercial support for it.

This was changed by Oracle’s announcement to abandon commercial support for GlassFish. Specifically …

Oracle will no longer release future major releases of Oracle GlassFish Server with commercial support – specifically Oracle GlassFish Server 4.x with commercial Java EE 7 support will not be released.
Commercial Java EE 7 support will be provided from WebLogic Server.

This means GlassFish will continue to be at the leading edge of technology (hopefully) but is now merely reduced to a toy. You can use GlassFish as a reference to ensure your code is using pure Java EE 7 APIs but any production deployments should seriously think twice before considering it as a choice of application server. This is also expressed by Antonio Goncalves:

GlassFish will stay open source. Yes, but with no commercial support it will not be used in organizations

Earlier today GlassFish plugin for Eclipse was removed from java.net. I suspect we’ll continue to see more news items like this making GlassFish truly for reference only.

This also means that today there are no vendors offering commercial support for Java EE 7 applications. Johan Vos from Lodgon jumped on the opportunity and offered commercial support for GlassFish. Johan (disclaimer: a great friend) is extremely knowledgeable about the internals and the codebase so he would be your good bet in case you want production support.

This decision from Oracle makes business sense as having two application server from one company is always confusing. This is the reason Sun (unfortunately) could not survive and Oracle will. David Blevins explained wonderfully in his post that open source isn’t free. In addition to WildFly, TomEE is the only open source application server that is now commercially supported by Tomitribe.

The announcement also said:

Oracle recommends that existing commercial Oracle GlassFish Server customers begin planning to move to Oracle WebLogic Server, which is a natural technical and license migration path forward

This would again make sense from Oracle’s perspective, at least for license, but not so much from customers or community perspective. Forester research analyst John Rhymer was quoted on that:

Folks that prefer GlassFish as their Oracle-supported production Java server now are looking at a big rise in costs

Agreed that Java EE is the common binding thread between the two application servers and there is some support for deployment descriptors across the two application servers. But that’s where the connection stops. Migrating an application from GlassFish to WebLogic is like migrating from one application server to another application server, and InfoQ agrees with that. They even said:

This needs more planning and effort, compared to moving to GlassFish with commercial support, or switching from WildFly to JBoss EAP. 

Deployment descriptor interoperability is good to get started with but Markus Eisele explained in his blog entry R.I.P. GlassFish – Thanks for all the fish.:

Even that both WLS and GF understand at least a bit of each others deployment descriptors there is a high risk buried in here that such a setting is the road to trouble.

Even if there is a knowledge of deployment descriptors but is that how the application will go into production as well ? What if support for GlassFish deployment descriptors is dropped from WebLogic ? Migrate again ?

Oracle also talks about shared code between GlassFish and WebLogic. If applications are built using standard Java EE APIs then the underlying implementations does not really matter much. Anyway most migration effort is associated with monitoring, management, clustering, and administration which is completely different between the GlassFish and WebLoigic servers. Customers estimating the level of effort to migrate away from GlassFish have the same analysis to perform for WebLogic or JBoss Enterprise Application Platform. Antonio also highlighted this aspect:

WildFly and JBoss have the same code base, GlassFish and Weblogic don’t (and that makes a huge difference between RedHat and Oracle app servers)

Commercial GlassFish customers who want to explore a migration to WebLogic will need to evaluate the cost of both code and license migration. Oracle has not announced any license credit or reduced upgrade pricing for commercial GlassFish customers considering migration to WebLogic. The latest Oracle price list dated October 17, 2013 lists the per processor price of GlassFish at $5,000 and WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition at $25,000, you do the Math!

JBoss EAP calculator helps you compare ongoing subscription cost of JBoss EAP and upfront license and ongoing support/maintenance costs of WebLogic and WebSphere. As shown in the EAP calculator there is 92% savings using JBoss EAP over WebLogic over 3 years.

6 Facts blog talk about WebLogic is not always more expensive than Oracle GlassFish Server. The blog seems correct on the cost analysis but it does not mention that WebLogic Standard Edition does not offer any clustering and failover capabilities. That also makes the Standard Edition that much less attractive an offering. You get what you pay for!

WildFly is the bleeding edge innovation engine for Red Hat and JBoss EAP allows customers to consume open source with ease. If you are looking for an open source application platform with commercial support from a large vendor, then your only choice is Red Hat.

We are open and this is also stated in a very objective opinion from Sharat Chander (a great friend and my ex-colleague):

 

Here is one tweet that I saw after the announcement and we’ll continue to see more of these …

What can you do ?

Red Hat and I are here to help!

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16 thoughts on “GlassFish Commercial is Dead, WildFly and JBoss EAP to the Rescue

  1. Congrats Arun! There are a bunch of great folks at JBoss, and I’m sure you will enjoy it.

    I would also mention that another path forward for Glassfish customers is the think about making the real jump to the future and to a PaaS. Open shift or CloudBees or cloud foundry or google app engine or aws elastic beanstalk all represent the future of app servers…

  2. >> I spent 6+ years at Oracle creating and nurturing the community around GlassFish.

    To me, this is a bit unfair for Eduardo and Alexis. The ‘GF Community’ was at Sun (and still is at Oracle) at team effort.

  3. The biggest problem I have with WildFly is that it is not supported in Netbeans. But I think this is more Netbeans’ problem than WildFly

  4. Ludo,

    Seems like Oracle removed the blog entry. Next time I’ll take a snapshot of the blog article :-)

    A cached version of the blog shows:

    As I wrote in my last blogs, the official version of GlassFish plugin for Eclipse is distributed as part of OEPE product. On java.net we have been still delivering developer builds with bug fixes and enhancements. Now there are no more resources that could look after this channel so it was decided to bring it down. From now on there will be only official versions of GlassFish plugin available here on OEPE OTN site.

    In future there may origin a channel for unofficial releases of plugin, probably as a part of OEPE OTN site. This will necessary for supporting new versions of GlassFish which will be available to public during development.

  5. Hi Arun,

    I know its been a bit late to ask this question, but just wondering to know what the situation with GF and wildfly for production deployment.

    Thanks & Nishad
    Nishad

  6. Nishad,

    GlassFish is only a Reference Implementation with no commercial support from Oracle. WildFly is under active development and know several production use cases of WildFly. Commercial support for WildFly will come as part of JBoss EAP 7.

    Arun

  7. Hi Arun,
    I think my question escapes the bounds of this blog, but I’ll do it anyway, are basic questions.

    Yesterday, after 2 or 3 years, I wanted to download the lastest Jboss AS community server (which was free-of-any-payment for using it in production environment), but I got surprised of the changes. Almost all day yesterday I spent to get knowledge of the changes and specially of which products are totally free of any payment, for production environment.

    I got these conclusions and/or questions:


    1. EAP GA (or Final) and EAP Beta versions are free only for development environment, and need to pay money for using it in production environment (called a redhat subscription).

    2. Are all EAP Alpha versions (the last to date is EAP 6.3.0 Alpha) totally free for production environment?, or just the EAP 6.1.0 Alpha?

    3. Then, I found there is another app server called WildFly (in a different page from http://jbossas.jboss.org/, called http://wildfly.org/).
    Which is better to use, WildFly or EAP Alpha versions (in my case I just want a totally free of payment server for production environment).

    I disagree that for example in the page “http://jbossas.jboss.org/” it talks about “The Open Source Java App Server….” (like it was in past years for the Jboss AS community server, not the Enterprise Server) but when you go to the Downloads link (http://jbossas.jboss.org/downloads) it mixes with the EAP Server (subscription needed), and even, it says in the License column “LGLP”!!!
    I heard something that it is for the source etc etc (that is still not so clear for me, I read it in a blog I think), but in the page of downloads it seems like all products (binaris and sources) were free, but they are not of course.

    By the way, very good post, very clear :)

    Regards,
    Esteban

  8. Hi Arun

    As far as I know, EAP GA (or Final) and EAP Beta versions are free only for development environment, and need a redhat subscription for using it in production environment, so 2 questions:
    1. Are all EAP Alpha versions (the last to date is EAP 6.3.0 Alpha) totally free for production environment?, or just the EAP 6.1.0 Alpha?
    2. Then, I found there is another app server called WildFly (in a different page from http://jbossas.jboss.org/, called http://wildfly.org/).
    Which is better to use, WildFly or EAP Alpha versions (in my case I just want a totally free of payment server for production environment).

    Esteban

  9. Hi Arun: Can you tell me what is wildfly and how is it related to JBoss.
    Also since you are working at JBoss may be you can answer thsi questions alos.
    the last community jboss version is jBoss 7.1.1 final in 2012 after there is no open source release. there are only JBoss EAP release. as far as i know EAP versions cannot be run on prod servers where as community versions can. so does it mean jBoss will not be releasing community versions??? if not when is the next release of community release.
    Also JBoss 7.1.1 is supporting ver 6 of java. when and what version of JBoss will support V27 7 and 8 of java.

  10. This is a bit late…but: meh. I still use Glassfish, my company still does and we do not have any problems. None of our applications have a huge amount of concurrent users; if they did this might matter to me, but as it stands, I am sure there are lots of shops out there in the same place. Netbeans, IDEA and Eclipse pretty much steer you towards GF when making a new project (not that it is hard to use something else), and you’ll have to find some more compelling reasons for shops which never once thought of getting a support package to care about this.

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