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"Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz" (or RIP GlassFish)

Disclaimer : I am a former BEA employee, former Weblogic consultant, author of three books based on GlassFish and use JBoss extensively. Today I’m self-employed and therefore do not belong to any company.

On the 4th of November 2013, Oracle announced the roadmap of GlassFish. It talks about version “4.1 scheduled for 2014“, alignment with Java EE 8 and so on… but the most important news are :

  • “Oracle will no longer release future major releases of Oracle GlassFish Server with commercial support
  • Commercial Java EE 7 support will be provided from WebLogic Server
  • Oracle GlassFish Server will not be releasing a 4.x commercial version
  • Oracle recommends that existing commercial Oracle GlassFish Server customers begin planning to move to Oracle WebLogic Server”

Like most of you, when Oracle bought Sun I thought GlassFish was going to die in favor of Weblogic. Years had past, both application servers were sharing more and more dependencies, and I was thinking that both would merge : GlassFish would remain, with dual licensing, sharing the goodies of Weblogic and the community of GlassFish. I was wrong.

This news brings several thoughts to me :

  • No commercial support means that GlassFish will become the good old J2EESDK, which is a Java EE reference implementation used only for playing
  • GlassFish is the RI and will always be the first app server to implement Java EE“, yes, and so what ?Organizations do not jump on a new app server just because a new EE release has been published, adoption takes time. Organizations want a good app server, not one that is just on time (being a RI is ok, having commercial support does the difference)
  • GlassFish will stay open source. Yes, but with no commercial support it will not be used in organizations
  • 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)
  • Customers move away from Websphere to go to GlassFish, JBoss or TomEE, not to Weblogic
  • The GlassFish community is vibrant, it is not with Weblogic (there is even a GlassFish User Group, can’t see any Weblogic user group around)
  • In this era of Cloud, organizations need lightweight and simple app servers to deploy massively
  • Google Trends tells me that Weblogic is going down compare to GlassFish, could that be true ?

If you compare IT with the car industry, Oracle’s vision is to sell luxury Mercedez Benz, not little-joe Ford : anexpensive Cloud running an expensive Application Server, storing data in an expensive Database… while everyone else is doing the opposite.

Oracle never pushed GlassFish. I dealt with many Oracle sales guys who knew nothing about GlassFish, they were always trying to sell Weblogic licenses. Look at companies like Red Hat, they know how to make business around Open Source. A shame Oracle didn’t learn how to do it (it takes time but it’s doable).

All in all, this is a very bad news for GlassFish, bad news for Java EE and bad news for the community. The only thing that makes me feel happier, is that my friends from JBoss and TomEE will have even more attraction. Saying that, competition is good and brings innovation and robustness to the application server’s world. JBoss and TomEE have an Open Source DNA and Oracle doesn’t.

Oracle, I might be wrong, but I think you are betting on the wrong horse. In the meantime, RIP GlassFish.

Special thanks to Janis Joplin

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