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Valuable Application and Integration Middleware

WebSphere Application Server has grown and changed over the years. In this IT Trendz post, Joseph Gulla explores IBM Websphere software.

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So far in 2020, I have explored IMS®, CICS® and IBM Db2® to better understand the current posture and content of the products. This week, I will continue my focus on IBM middleware with this post on IBM WebSphere® software.

Ways to Think About and Explain WebSphere

In the early 2000s, I was a project manager on-boarding hosting customers. That was the jargon we used to explain that we were helping a customer bring their application and data into our hosting center. We planned to run and support these applications for the next three, five or 10 years depending on the contract. It was at that time that I found out about WebSphere Application Server (WAS) as many of the customers were starting to use this emerging product as their application platform. After seeing its uses, I made a mental note that WAS was to web applications what CICS was to online transaction processing. 

What About Today?

WebSphere Application Server has grown and changed over the years. The product has two main branches: WebSphere Liberty and traditional WebSphere (often called "tWAS"). Both branches have a lot of leaves that I plan to explore in this and another post. WebSphere Liberty is a highly composable, dynamic application server runtime environment. Composability is useful because it means that components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements. Liberty has fast startup processing and a minimal footprint, which makes it a good match for cloud-native microservices application development.
The traditional WebSphere edition continues the evolution from the original release in June 1998. tWAS runs on many computing platforms and has extensive tooling to support development, deployment and support of e-business applications. Both editions are available for download with different trial options.

More on Liberty

WebSphere Liberty is built on the Open Liberty project that provides a completely open-source Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE), Jakarta EE and MicroProfile runtime. The combination of Open Liberty with traditional WebSphere compatibility features makes WebSphere Liberty an ideal environment for transforming existing applications.
The WebSphere Liberty modular architecture means only the needed features are loaded at runtime to help reduce memory consumption resulting in the ability to run more application instances per machine, reducing production costs. In addition, servers running WebSphere Liberty start quickly, making them ideal for rapid scale-up and scale-down of containerized applications as the workload changes. This flexibility enables a smaller footprint that can yield faster deployment and increased scalability characteristic of cloud environments.

More on WebSphere Traditional

There is an overview of WebSphere traditional in the IBM Knowledge Center. It explains the components that make up the server and describes how those components enable and support e-business applications. There are:
  • Java EE application components that provide support for application that conform to Java EE specifications
  • Support for client applications generally referring to clients implemented according to a particular set of Java specifications, and which run in the client container of a Java EE-compliant application server
  • Web services engine runtime support, which acts as both a web services provider and as a requestor
  • Data access, messaging and Java EE resources, for example, connection management for access to enterprise information systems in the application server (based on the Java EE Connector Architecture specification)
  • Security with a supporting programming model and infrastructure
  • Additional services like naming, directory and object request broker 
It’s helpful to review a technical overview of tWAS to appreciate its long journey in an industry of constant change and how it has embraced change, providing a robust application server platform.

WebSphere Editions

Also, there are two WebSphere WAS editions. IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment Edition provides a flexible and secure server runtime environment for large-scale and mission-critical application deployments. It also can be deployed in a variety of ways: on-premise or for public, private or hybrid cloud.
IBM WebSphere Application Server Family Edition is a bundle of three WebSphere Application Server product editions under one license. Many organizations appreciate the flexibility of its support for multiple business models and platforms helping to keep organizations agile as their needs change.

Different Product Versions Means Choice

The five versions of WAS provide choice and flexibility. Here are the main benefits of each version in a brief recap:
  1. Open Liberty is the OS foundation for the WebSphere Liberty product portfolio. It can be used for developing new cloud-native applications with zero start-up cost.
  2. WebSphere Application Server supports Java EE Full Profile applications that need to integrate with existing Java EE applications, such as those using JMS
  3. WebSphere Liberty Core is an ideal version for web applications or microservices that rely only on the Java EE Web Profile
  4. WebSphere Application Server ND supports the management of Java EE Full Profile applications that run outside of a containerized environment
  5. WebSphere Application Server Family edition offers increased license flexibility across an enterprise for three WebSphere products: WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Liberty Core and WebSphere Application Server ND 

Next Week

Next week, I will continue with WebSphere by exploring extensions to the platform that include many award-winning tools, as well as capabilities for security and systems management. 
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