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Thoughts on JBoss EAP 7 Beta from an ex-GlassFish Product Manager

I’ve been at Red Hat for roughly 3.5 months now. I must admit that it feels a bit odd talking about JBoss Enterprise Application Server (EAP) 7 having been the GlassFish and Java EE product manager for 7 years at Sun Microsystems and then Oracle. I’ve spent years going head to head *against* JBoss. JBoss was the J2EE (and Java EE) open source appserver market leader, and GlassFish was always battling uphill to displace JBoss. I personally think that competition from GlassFish forced the JBoss appserver to improve itself. And holy cow, did it ever.  More on this in a bit.

Early on (GlassFish v2/SJSAS 9.x, Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server v2), the arguments over JBoss were that GlassFish had a feature rich CLI, great UI, 5 9’s clustering, etc. With GlassFish v3, we added OSGi modularity, fast startup time, lower resource utilization, etc. At this point (2013), Oracle made the decision to reduce the investment commercial GlassFish product and recommended customer move to WebLogic.  This was the most painful blog post I ever had to write. GlassFish 4 was reduced to the (more-or-less) Java EE RI and a platform to learn Java EE 7 technologies. There are still a lot of great engineers (and great people) keeping GlassFish alive even today, but the market reality of not needing two commercial appservers from a single vendor caught up to it.  GlassFish is no longer a recipient of innovation investment. I don’t hold any grudge against Oracle whatsoever, it was a business decision that makes complete sense for Oracle. In fact, I learned a lot of good things from the experience and from working at Oracle in general, and I truly miss my ex-coworkers. However, it was time for me to move on.

Now on to JBoss EAP. It is the undisputed market leading “commercially supported open source” Java EE compatible application server on the market, and also has more investment (IMHO) than any other open source Java EE offering.  Currently, the open source WildFly (renamed from the prior JBoss AS) is nearing version 10, and the commercial-product equivalent JBoss EAP 7 has reached Beta. These include a new high performance servlet container (undertow) with HTTP/2 support, RBAC, server-side JavaScript, offline CLI, graceful shutdown (reject new requests and finish off current requests before shutting down), and more. I’m still learning about all the new features.

A WildFly-related investment that I am more directly involved in is WildFly Swarm (Swarm), which reached Alpha 6 today.  Swarm allows you to package your Java EE application with just enough WildFly to run it as a standalone jar file. Yes, java -jar MyJavaEEApp.jar, but it’s really more than that (reserved for a separate blog post).  It feels really good to work on an open source project/product again that has investment in innovation behind it.

For all my GlassFish friends, take a look at WildFly and JBoss EAP. They are as improved from the older JBoss Application Server as Java EE is from J2EE. Take a look at WildFly Swarm too if you think a runnable jar for Java EE apps sounds interesting. You may or may not find that switching is for you, but you will definitely come out more enlightened :-)

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