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Q&A with Patty Dudek, Vice President, WebSphere Server Development, IBM

  • October 5, 2007
  • By Patty Dudek
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Developer.com was fortunate enough to get a chance to recently ask Patty Dudek, vice president, WebSphere Server Development, IBM some questions.

Q: When would a company benefit from an open source application server?

Dudek: Though there are no concrete rules of when to use an open source or open source-based application server versus an enterprise application server, an open source-based application server is generally ideal for departmental non-mission critical applications that need to be deployed quickly. Essentially, applications that you don't have to bet your business on. As an open source solution has a lower cost of entry, it is an excellent option for companies or departments that have limited funding. Often, these projects have lower rates of transactions, fewer concurrent users, and the cost of downtime is minimized versus other business critical applications.

IBM's WebSphere Application Server Community Edition (WAS CE) differentiates itself from other open source based offerings because it is lightweight and designed for department applications.

The bottom line is, if used to address the right business needs, open source and open source-based application servers can be a valuable component of any company's IT infrastructure. It is critical that each company take the time to evaluate its long term strategy and business needs before making any technology decision to ensure the smartest and most functional investment. By doing so, customers will select open source products when they present the best solution for their needs.

Q: Is there a time when an open source alternative is not the best choice?

Dudek: Our customers choose WebSphere Application Server Community Edition because they need a lightweight application server, which includes the functionality of Apache Tomcat plus pre-integrated services such as security and messaging. For these customers, saving development time is key and the lightweight nature of open source application servers is a big draw as well.

One mistake to avoid is employing an open source-based application server to run an application requiring near continuous availability and very high transaction rates. More business critical applications with a high cost of downtime require a differentiated level of investment in infrastructure to ensure the highest performance of business operations. IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment can deliver the value in this situation—it is an enterprise scalable application server which provides additional assurances for mission critical applications.

This is not to say that applications running on open source or open source-based application servers are not as important as those running on enterprise application servers. Every application that a company runs is important. Some applications simply have a larger impact on the business results, and require a differentiated level of investment in the underlying infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted business operations.

Q: Once a business decides to deploy an open source application server, what advice can you offer to make the transition run as smoothly as possible?

Dudek: Very often, there isn't much of a transition. Few customers move applications from an enterprise application server to an open source application server. More often, customers choose to use an open source application server for a new project where the needs are better aligned with the capabilities of an open source application server. In these cases, we work with our customers to consider options when the new application needs to scale out to 10s or 100s of server instances, or scale up to an enterprise grade application server. These two situations occur when the new application becomes more business critical to the company, as can sometimes happen with applications. By considering this possibility from day one, customers see the value of a scale up, growth path, from WAS CE to the higher value functionality offered in the rest of the WAS family. Additionally, using WebSphere Extended Deployment to provide full lifecycle management to WAS CE provides customer value in the scale out scenario, greatly simplifying management and administration tasks when 10s or 100s of WAS CE instances are deployed.

Q: What trends and traction are IBM seeing in the open source application server space?

Dudek: Today, many customers have two application servers that are approved within their enterprise. There may be one application server for business-critical applications and another for less business-critical departmental applications. Often, this means there is an "enterprise approved" business-critical application server (WebSphere Application Server) and an open source/open source-based application server (WAS CE).

IBM is the only SOA infrastructure vendor to provide a family of offerings to address these requirements. The IBM WAS portfolio starts with WAS CE, an open source-based application server, which is increasingly being selected as the "enterprise approved" application server for departmental applications. We also have the rest of the WAS family, with products like WAS Network Deployment and WAS for z/OS that have secured their positions as the "enterprise approved" application server for business-critical applications as our #1 market position indicates.

We recently announced that WAS CE just surpassed 1 million distributions. This is further evidence of the traction we're seeing behind WAS CE. The interest in WAS CE has ranged from SMB customers (via Partners), Partners/ISVs/SIs, customers in emerging countries, and even departments in Fortune 500 companies.

Q: On that note, can you elaborate on IBM's recent partnership with Novell?

Dudek: Certainly. IBM and Novell recently joined forces to capture a larger piece of the growing open source application server market and, under the agreement, Novell will deliver and support WAS CE as part of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, making it the industry's most comprehensive open source-based server offering.

Based on this partnership, IBM is gaining access to Novell's SMB market leadership, providing new sales opportunities from Novell's existing customer base. In return, Novell is gaining a strong global partner, allowing it to tap into IBM's worldwide sales force. The partnership is also providing customers with an enterprise-ready open source alternative to offerings from RedHat, while developers have an opportunity to build on a tested platform in WAS CE, with the full support of IBM, Novell and the open source community as they build their applications.

Q: I understand that there were some recent survey results issued by SPECjAppServer2004. Can you expand on what statistics were revealed and what this means for IBM in the application server arena?

Dudek: SPECjAppServer2004 is an industry-standard benchmark designed to measure the performance of application servers conforming to the J2EE 1.3 or later specifications. IBM achieved a new record-breaking SPECjAppServer2004 benchmark performance and scalability results with WebSphere Application Server v6.1, smashing the previous record for throughput per CPU core and single 4-CPU core middleware by over 37%. IBM now leads the industry in the categories of SPECjAppServer2004 that matter most for real customer application performance.

IBM WebSphere Application Server v6.1 with the IBM 5.0 JVM and the powerful IBM DB2 Universal Database v9.1 running on a single POWER6-based server set this configuration's new benchmark performance record of 1,197.51 SPECJAppServer2004 JOPS@Standard (jAppServer Operations per Second). This represents a 37 percent increase in performance when compared to the second-place application server product in both of the above categories. The result from IBM was achieved running on AIX with an IBM POWER6 p570 server powered by two dual-core IBM® POWER6® 4.7 GHz processors. IBM's submission involved more than 15,500 concurrent clients and produced more than 1,197 complex business transactions per second, which translates into more than 4.3 million transactions over the course of the benchmark's one-hour runtime.

About the Author

Patty Dudek is vice president, WebSphere Server Development, IBM. She is currently leading high performing design, development, test, and support teams. She previously lead of WebSphere Portal and Workplace Services Express development.

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