Why would I prefer Liberty Profile over TomEE?! No easy answer

That’s the question which keeps bothering me lately: “Why would I prefer IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5 Liberty Profile over Apache TomEE?”

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone who struggles with the question and there’ll be more people soon. Since they’re new product offerings such questions will pop up quite often.

TomEE has just passed the vote for public consumption as the version 1.0. At almost the same time “IBM officially announced a new developer friendly light-weight web app server called WAS V8.5 – Liberty Profile”. And there’re other application servers around that keep your head busy over choosing the best offer for your next project (in random order): Apache Geronimo, JBoss AS, GlassFish, Jetty, Tomcat, Oracle WebLogic Server, et al.

“Why am I concerned?”, you may ask. It’s not very often when you’re in charge of deciding what application server to pick for a project, but when you are in charge of proving a guidance, things get tough and complicated. What’s a big deal?! Well, I’m an IBMer and a member of the Apache TomEE project.

I’ve been always wishing that IBM would release an application server like the Liberty Profile. It’s been my dream for ages. I remember the days when IBM WebSphere AS V6.1 was released and I left BEA WebLogic Server aside when I changed the employer. It wasn’t easy, but OSGi made the difference and I believed it would eventually turn the product to become the leader. I’m not going to say it happened (neither would I refuse it!), but the versions were better over time (even though many people I met could hardly notice it as they often just didn’t care).

I was really happy when IBM unveiled IBM WebSphere Application Server V8 as “the third application to be certified with full Java EE 6 Profile, following on from Oracle’s GlassFish Open Source Edition 3.x and upwards, and JEUS 7 from TmaxSoft.” Since GlassFish is the reference implementation for Java EE 6 and is indeed supposed to be the first application server to test against and I’ve never seen JEUS 7 as the platform, it’s been said that IBM WebSphere Application Server V8 was the first commercial product offering with the full Java EE 6 support. That made the difference for me!

IBM didn’t stop it, but neither did the competition. Apache TomEE has a great potential to catch people’s attention for its simplicity as “The result is Tomcat with added EE features, TomEE.”

I can hardly point the winner in the race for a leaner, smoother and more feature-rich and lightweight application server, but am sure we, Java EE developers, have just received a very interesting question to tackle. TomEE “is an all-Apache Java EE 6 Web Profile certified stack where Tomcat is top dog” which Liberty Profile would not likely soon achieve. On the other hand, Liberty profile supports Enterprise OSGi (OSGi Blueprint and WABs) with Mac OS and Java 7, but more importantly for many software shops and customers, “any application that runs on the Liberty profile will also run on the full product server” – IBM WebSphere Application Server 8.5. Although TomEE runs atop Mac OS with any Java available and Enterprise OSGi may be supported, it is not at the moment which makes Liberty profile a viable candidate for some developers.

Surprisingly, I’m tempted to disregard JBoss AS’s existence. Leaving TomEE and Liberty profile aside, there’s GlassFish out there so if I need a refresher GlassFish does fit well. There’s always the question about the products built atop and supported by application servers (which many consider a commodity like operating systems), but happily IBM keeps me busy on that front, too, after closing Acquisition of Lombardi Software with their Business Process Management (BPM) software and offering the product IBM Business Process Manager (there’s also the announcement about IBM Business Process Manager V8.0 publicly available). There’re plenty of business-oriented products atop IBM WebSphere AS and wish I’d more time to learn them better.

Having said that, I’m certainly concerned with the question “What makes Liberty Profile better than TomEE for a project?” Do you? Please leave your comment so with your help I may draw some conclusions earlier. I’m not going to favor one over the other and technical features do only matter!

p.s. There’s yet another question that takes my attention away – I simply can’t believe why they released the versions now while my brain’s currently overwhelmed to mentally digest the goodness of functional programming (with Clojure). It looks like IT’s not going to be easy any time soon :)

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This entry was posted in Java EE, WebSphere.

5 Responses to Why would I prefer Liberty Profile over TomEE?! No easy answer

  1. Jean-Louis MONTEIRO says:

    Hi Jacek,

    Interesting blog entry ;-)
    I downloaded LP last week and gave it a try. It’s too early for me to give an opinion, but I must admit that I’ve pushed my hair out more than once using IBM Websphere AS v6 and v7. It was really a nightmare even to download 8Go (to get everything).

    I’ve been really surprised by the small size of the package and I gonna have a look deeper.

    For sure, I will hang around that entry to get more feedback.


    • With you the question will get smashed veeery soon! :) Can’t wait your take. After a couple of days with the Liberty Profile I can’t say much, but am sure it’s gonna be uneasy for people to accept the product is so slim and ultra lightweight. Buzzwords aside, they really did their homework :-)

      • rohit says:

        WebSphere Application Server v8.5.5. Liberty profile is now web profile certified.

        • That’s right! And I can’t seem to find spare cycles to give it a try, though.

          I remember how painful it was when I waited for the release and I couldn’t wait till IMPACT, but in the meantime was sidetracked towards Scala and got busy with the language.

  2. Tom McManus says:

    Jacek –There are a few reasons to not discard Liberty 8.5.5 as an ISV. 1) The no charge no support version Liberty Core for ISVs ( https://www.ibm.com/partnerworld/page/isv_com_sfw_was_isv_libertycore) Also works for hobbyists that care to stay in license compliance. 2) Easy administration 1 file that can be parameterized and the key values paris put into another txt file that can be referenced across multiple servers. 3) Completely dynamic no need to restart the server. 4) if the application usage grows in critically where clustering is needed, you can move up to ND and use the Liberty Clustering function. 5) from an Admin perspective, if I have a number of tier 3 apps that I need to keep an eye on, I can use the collective feature to herd the Cats and admin through one admin point vs dealing with leach instance individually. 6) SPI where I can build my own features.

    From the ISV point of view. (land and expand) Free(w/ no support if I embed); Supported (license and S&S fee) if my customer want support; Clustering or remote management support in the ND license/product.

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