IBM WebSphere Application Server Review

Enables us to to integrate with IBM MQ and IBM Integration Bus, in a mixed Windows/AIX environment

How has it helped my organization?

We use IBM WAS Developer Edition in our development machines for free.

There is an Eclipse Plugin provided by IBM, so no need to buy IBM Rational Application Developer or Rational Software Architect tools.

Starting with version 8, WAS provides a special folder called monitor deployment. Once you put the .war or .ear file in there, it is deployed automatically without human intervention. This greatly helps us in our continuous integration server. Once the deployment binary is ready, we write a script to copy it to that folder and then, voila! The application is up and running and accessible from its context root.

What is most valuable?

  • Stability: Once you deploy your application, it will be very stable with no issues at all.
  • Ease of administration: It has an Integrated Solutions Console, what we call the administrative console, with very detailed configurations and Help pages for each configurable item.
  • Up to date: Once a security vulnerability has been discovered, IBM patches it quickly, and later includes it in a bigger fix or update.
  • Security: It is compatible with the latest Java 8 security features, supports FIPS 140-2 and NIST SP 800-53 with strong ciphers and cryptography keys, and supports TLS 1.2 completely. Also, configuring client and server certificates is relatively easy.

What needs improvement?

IBM needs to pay attention to market changes more quickly. We now have Java 9 and very soon Java EE8. We do not want to wait for two or three years after their release until they are supported by the new version, say WAS 10 in our case.

Installing or configuring a WAS server instance as a Windows Service causes a lot of problems, especially when the server needs credentials to stop.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No stability issues at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No scalability issues at all.

How are customer service and technical support?

Very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I used Oracle GlassFish and Apache Tomcat but found them good only for small applications. Also, they need a lot of XML configuration and are not really production-ready.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward and, thanks to Java and its platform independency, it requires almost the same steps in all operating systems.

You just have to install IBM Installation Manager, define your repositories, and click Install or Update.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

If your application is just a web app that does not need to scale big, you can obtain a single core license of WAS Express edition, which has almost the same features with limited processing cores.

If you manage a very big application farm (i.e. need to run 10 or more WAS servers) it is better to get IBM WAS Hypervisor Edition.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I evaluated Red Hat JBoss EAP, but since we need to integrate with IBM MQ and the IBM Integration Bus, all in a mixed Windows/AIX environment, we found that IBM WAS was the winner.

What other advice do I have?

IBM products, in general, need a lot of experience. They are very similar, have much in common, but to avoid getting into trouble and strange issues, it's important to read within the IBM Knowledge Center before starting. Also, do not skip any step in the installation/migration/configuration section, as it may stop you later, even without your knowing it.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: IBM Platinum Business Partner.
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