Glassfish - Commercial to Open Source

2014-04-08

Glassfish application server project was introduced by SUN Microsystems for Java EE platform, and was known as Sun Java System Application Server. But when Oracle acquired SUN Microsystems, rightly so, it was called Oracle GlassFish Application Server.

Regarding the roadmap for GlassFish, Oracle announced in last year’s JavaOne summit that they would be releasing the open source edition of GlassFish application server 4.X onwards in 2014 with no commercial support for Java EE7. Likely so Oracle will not release any commercial versions of GlassFish Server onwards, but will keep delivering updates for the open source edition. Thus moving forward, the only commercially supported application server from Oracle will be Oracle Web Logic Server. However the applications which are designed according to Java Enterprise Edition standards will be compatible with both GlassFish and Web logic Servers.

Many experts and consultants are of the opinion that oracle’s decision to halt commercial support for GlassFish is a deliberate move to make existing users of GlassFish Server to start planning a switch to Web Logic Server. This opinion can certainly be supported by referring to Oracle Technology Global Price List which shows that the license cost per processor for commercial version of Glassfish was half as compared to per processor license cost for Web logic.

According to an article named RIP GlassFish by technology consultant Markus Eisele: Oracle killed its own application server in favor of the other.

Hence one of the most eminent impacts on GlassFish customers after this decision is cost raise, regardless of the what decision its users take internally to either carry on with GlassFish leading to its open source edition or switch to other options.

This article will mainly highlight the impacts on customers that choose the second option to continue with GlassFish after the end of Java EE7’s commercial support after this year’s release.

  • First and foremost, with any software or an application, its users occasionally face issues which require troubleshooting and fixes from experts of the application. When it comes to Application Servers the persistent occurring issues are mainly related to Availability, Scalability, Clustering and Load balancing. With oracle lifting its support, support contracts with oracle will not be possible for GlassFish anymore. Therefore Open source GlassFish customers will have to seek support expertise on the Application from other sources.
  • Most of the open source communities follow the practice of reporting back the bug fixes or improvement in code, to the community. That probably follows a series of suggestions and questions regarding the bug fixes or improvements. There are positives and negatives of this approach but the change implementers will be required to review their code several times before posting it as an official agreed bug fix for the whole community. In a positive sense this approach brings out the best solution but requires a considerable efforts from the change implementers or bug fixer. With release of GlassFish’s open source edition repetitive code reviews and coordination will be required by the bug fixers and this will consume time and effort.
  • With commercial support available the users of GlassFish were not required to worry about thoroughly researching the changes first before implementing them. This was the responsibility of oracle’s technical support board. Now with GlassFish becoming open source, even if the user organization is not required to fix the bugs internally (if they have outsourced), they still need to analyze the changes many times before ordering implementation with their vendors.
  • According to Oracle Blog, apart from support issues that will be faced with Open Source Oracle GlassFish Application Server. Oracle GlassFish will be supporting full Java EE6 platform, it will have a lightweight and extensible architecture, Clustering and centralized administration will be provided and it will be quite fast application server. It will be available from glassfish.org
With some of the impacts explained above, on the other side of the story, this act of makig GlassFish available as open source will also open up a lot of opportunities. There are other vendors like TomEE having commercial support from tomitribe, Wildfly with commercial support from RedHat and WebSphere Liberty with support from IBM that can step in and offer their services to the existing GlassFish customers who choose to carry on with Open Source. Infect anyone of these listed suppliers can officially offer commercial support for GlassFish Open Source edition since many companies are running very critical applications on GlassFish.