Survey: IBM WebSphere Tops App Server Ranks

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-10-16 Print this article Print

IBM's WebSphere application server takes top honors in a recent study from Evans Data. The Evans study tracked user ratings and pit WebSphere against application servers from Oracle, JBoss, Geronimo, Sun, Oracle, Adobe and SAP.

A recent Evans Data study shows that IBM's WebSphere ranks tops among application servers, as rated by developers.

In a survey from September, Evans Data showed that IBM's 10-year-old WebSphere out-ranked application servers from other vendors and the open-source community. WebSphere ranked first, followed by the open-source Geronimo application server, followed by Windows Server 2003, followed by ColdFusion, followed by Red Hat's JBoss application server. Sun Microsystems' Glassfish, Oracle's WebLogic and SAP's NetWeaver filled out the top eight slots, in that order.

In the worldwide survey of more than 700 developers, users rated the application servers on 21 different attributes including performance, scalability, support, database connectivity and security features. WebSphere took top scores in 10 out of the 21 categories as well as in combined overall score.

Regarding IBM WebSphere, the Evans Data report said:

"The new WebSphere 7.0 is particularly impressive with support for the latest Java EE and EJB technologies, and is accompanied by the best rated Rational Application Developer suite of tools. Also noteworthy is the IBM strategy of releasing new versions of its application server at intervals of every two years, while making Feature Packs available at much more frequent intervals. Thus, large enterprises can enjoy the continuity that results from less frequent major product releases, while still benefiting from access to leading edge technologies as they become available."

Meanwhile, the Evans Data report also credited IBM with helping the Geronimo application server fare well in the survey.

"One surprise in this year's report was the open-source application server, Geronimo, from the Apache Software Foundation," the report said. "Geronimo is relatively new, but its users rated many of its features very highly. As an open-source program, Geronimo might have been burdened by the perception amongst users of a lack of support. We often find that users of open-source software primarily list 'lack of good support' as a complaint. However, this was not the case with Geronimo, and much of that has to do with IBM. IBM has provided resources and support in a variety of ways to Geronimo and the Apache Software Foundation, including technical support. This is likely one of the reasons that Geronimo came in second in quality of support, right behind WebSphere."

Moreover, "The other real surprise in this survey's results was how poorly WebLogic was scored by its users," the study said. WebLogic won top honors in the Evans Data application server survey in 2006, but this year nearly all of its rankings were down. Evans Data officials speculated that the poor rankings "may have been at least in part due to uncertainty about the product's future" in light of WebLogic producer BEA being acquired by Oracle early in the year.

JBoss was cited by users as delivering the best value-to-cost ratio, the best compatibility with other software and also the best security. However, JBoss, ColdFusion and Sun Java System Application Server/GlassFish were all very close together in scores, right behind Microsoft's Windows Server, the report said.

Describing the rest of the field, the Evans Data report said:

"Windows Server is both an operating system and Microsoft's application server, and users gave it good scores across the board, but especially preferred its easy database connectivity. ColdFusion is Adobe's application server with a long and respected history and tools that make it perfect for Adobe's other technologies, such as AIR and Flash. GlassFish is the new incarnation of Sun's Java System Application Server."

In addition, the report said SAP's NetWeaver is a bit more specialized in its positioning. "It is the application server part of the NetWeaver platform, designed to run SAP applications and tailored to the large enterprise," the report said. 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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