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Four open source Java application servers compared

Posted by kalali on December 11, 2007 at 1:11 PM PST

I was looking at feeds that my email client fetched during the day and I find am interesting one which lead me to an article written by Jonathan Campbell. Article can be found at

Jonathan compared 3 different application server/ servlet container by thier support of Java EE 5 and some other factors. article explained about each feature that he compared application servers based on it. Jonathan did not included GlassFish in his review of "open source Java application servers" and only included 3 application servers/ Servlet containers including Tomcat, Jboss and Geronimo. :-), So I thought I should include some facts here in order to make the comparison fair to all parties.

Including Glassfish into Jonathan matrix will give us the following table: *Notice*

Feature JBoss 4.2 Geronimo 2 Tomcat 6 GlassFish 2
Java EE 5 compliance Partial Yes No Yes
EJB 3.0 capable Yes Yes Available Yes
JSP 2.1 and 2.5 capable Yes Yes Yes Yes
JavaServer Faces 1.2 support Yes Yes Available Yes
Custom plug-in support Yes Yes No ?
Business-rules engine support Available Available Available Available
Hibernate 3.x support Yes Available Available Yes, based on below description
JBoss Seam support Yes Yes Available Yes
Clustering support Yes Yes Partial Yes
Eclipse IDE connector support Yes Yes Yes Yes


Following descriptions further explain some of what Glassfish can provides in relation of the above table

  • GlassFish fully support Java EE 5 with all its related JSRs like JSP 2.1 (JSR 245), Servlet 2.5(154), EJB 3.0(JSR 245), etc.
  • GlassFish support clustering and cluster management out of the box, a cluster can be configured from both CLI and Administration console.
  • GlassFish administration console allows you to configure your load balancer :-), for example you can configure a Sun Java Web Server which works as load balancer to add or add/ remove an instance from its list of servers, either manually or automatically if a new node joined the cluster or removed from the cluster
  • GlassFish allows you to manage resources for entire cluster at once instead of applying them for each instance, for example you can deploy a web application into a cluster of 10 instances instead of deploying it seperately for each instance.
  • GlassFish has a very wide array documentation both from Sun Microsystems (for free) and from GlassFish community.
  • GlassFish installation is as easy as executing 2 commands.
  • Deploying applications into GlassFish or even an entire cluster of glassfish instances is just 2 clicks away.
  • Quality of GlassFish components is out of any question, Metro is well known for supporting new WS-* standards, EJB support uses Toplink Essentials, MQ server is Sun open sourced MQ, etc.
  • GlassFish has very good interoperability with some other open source projects like, OpenESB and OpenSSO which allows you to have what you need to kick start your J2EE application without looking at any additional configuration.
  • Certainly performance is something which everyone should have in mind before considering other feaures, take a look at and to find out more about how much capable GlassFish is.
  • GlassFish has connectors for both Eclipse and Netbeans, although other mentioned servers have a connector in Netbeans and Eclipse.
  • Seam support is available from GlassFish 1 upward.
  • Business rule engine support is available from OpenESB project integration.
  • About hibernate support, I cannot understand whether Jonathan means to use Hibernate as a persistence provider or plainly as an ORM, by the way both of this ?features? are available for GlassFish users.
  • GlassFish has an Update center, which allows you to update your application server from a remote repository.
  • GlassFish runs on all mentioned platforms, from Windows to AIX (Glasdfish 2 update 1 runs on AIX) and there is no restriction for you to run it on your platform of choice.

Mentioned items are in relation to what orginal article tried to compare. GlassFish can be used by a ROR developer by its integration with first class ROR IDE (Netbeans 6), It can serve you VOIP and SIP requirement by means of sailfin,etc. Any user with any kind of requirement will find GlassFish a suitable application server.

Although Jonathan did not mentioned GlassFish directly, but he gives his opinion by writing:In my experience commercial application servers have more bugs than the open source servers compared in this article, and they are more difficult to install. Deployment can also be an issue -- at least with the recent version of Sun's Java Application Server. The article could be more complete if Jonathan included GlassFish in his comparsion chart and at then end he could write that GlassFish has problematic deployment procedure


An statement which looks odd to me is: In my experience commercial application servers have more bugs than the open source servers compared in this article, and they are more difficult to install., Althogh it will be a complex procedure to setup a Cluser of Websphere (as a commercial application servers ) using websphere XD, Object Grid, and other available packages that faciliate enterprise scale deployment of Websphere, but WebSphere has a decent performance and reliability which is very hard to deny.

Notice: Some parts of this table taken from Jonathan Campbell article published by javaworld and is available at


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