IBM WebSphere Application Server vs Oracle WebLogic—Why pay more and get less? Catch the interview with Roman Kharkovski
Shaku Selvakumar 060001XT47 firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  server application virtualization bizagility was websphere_cloudburst_appl... websphere cloud
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With Oracle OpenWorld 2010 taking place this week in San Francisco, I’ve been thinking more about the differences between IBM WebSphere Application Server and Oracle WebLogic Server. I reached out to one of my colleagues, Roman Kharkovski, Executive IT Specialist, Worldwide WebSphere Technical Sales, for answers to a few of my questions.
Roman, both IBM WebSphere Application Server and Oracle WebLogic Server are high quality products that perform well in demanding environments. Can you explain some of the differences between the two products?
I agree that both WebSphere and WebLogic are high quality products and will do the most demanding job, however the cost is definitely a key differentiator. In fact, a recent pricing comparison revealed that Oracle WebLogic charges 70% more for first year license and support and 53% more to renew support beyond the first year. Part of it is due to the fact that IBM provides the first year of support for free while Oracle charges 22%, IBM recognizes VMware partitioning and only charges for the cores being used to run the workload, while Oracle charges for all cores on the box. There are also significant advantages in IBM licensing for backup servers, disaster recovery, LDAP, HTTP servers, caching, etc. In most cases Oracle charges for those things where IBM does not. In addition, there are a certain differences in performance, administration and management that result in a higher total cost of ownership for WebLogic.
Can you give me a few examples of the differences in performance between the two products?
Sure, in January of this year, IBM was the first vendor to publish the SPECjEnterprise2010 benchmark with the latest result of 15,829.86 EjOPS (Enterprise jAppServer Operations Per Second). Nine months later Oracle finally published their first result and it is not only lower in terms of total EjOPS, but also about 40% less efficient than IBM’s result per processor core.
In addition, the new JPA enhancements in the WebSphere Feature Pack for Java Persistence API 2.0 have helped IBM increase its SPECjEnterprise2010 benchmark by 73% on a single server node.
Another key difference is the WAS Dynacache capability that makes flexible HTML, Servlet, JSP and SOAP/HTTP caching possible without modifications to the source application. Included with WebSphere Application Server (WAS) Network Deployment is the capability to dynamically replicate this cache to the edge of the network using WebSphere Edge Components. All of this is included free of charge with the WebSphere license and can be installed on a distributed configuration without additional cost. In comparison, WebLogic Server has limited caching available and requires manual editing of the source code to put in the JSP tags. This editing means application designers have to be overtly aware of the cache, while in WAS, developers do not have to do anything special to enable caching—it’s purely administrative. Oracle also charges for those components known as “Oracle Web Tier”.
You mentioned there were also some administrative and management differences. Can you describe a few?
One difference is that WAS Network Deployment allows management of a mixed version environment---WAS v5, v6 and v7, for example--from a single administrative console. WebLogic does not.
Another difference is that WAS provides an “Installation Factory” and “Central Installation Manager” (CIM) to speed up installation and update of multiple servers with similar configurations. WebLogic Server does not offer these capabilities.
WAS also has a capability called “Flexible Management” that makes it possible to submit administrative jobs asynchronously for application servers registered as administrative agents of the deployment manager. Jobs can be submitted to one or more servers and these servers do not have to belong to the same administrative domain. The job manager can asynchronously administer job submissions and complete tasks, even over slow or unreliable networks. This is designed to manage very large branch type deployments, such as retail stores and alike. Oracle WebLogic Server does not offer this capability.
What about cloud and virtualization? Do both products provide similar levels of support?
No. For example, IBM offers application infrastructure virtualization that complements server, storage and network virtualization and enables organizations to push the boundaries of its IT infrastructure for greater operational efficiency and manageability. Oracle does not offer comparable functions for supporting very large environments. Let me explain.
WebSphere Virtual Enterprise(WVE) provides virtualization at the application level. It can be combined with server virtualization like VMware and PowerVM so customers can take advantage of both approaches to lower operational and energy costs and better manage enterprise applications and service-oriented architecture environments. Cluster size in the WebSphere Virtual Enterprise is not static as it is in WebLogic, but dynamic – it can be expanded or shrunk down to one or zero JVM instances if there are not requests that come into the application. There are many “autonomic” things that are done in “autopilot” mode by WVE that greatly simplify administration and improve qualities of services. WVE is a truly innovative product and to date, Oracle has not delivered a product with comparable capabilities to market.
Another example - Oracle lacks support for robust application edition management. WebLogic allows only two versions of the same application to co-exist for a short time of transition, while WebSphere Virtual Enterprise makes it possible for a virtually unlimited number of application editions to co-exist indefinitely with the ability to revert back or forward to a certain version at any time or isolate a certain version of the application for testing purposes.
In addition, unlike Oracle, WebSphere Virtual Enterprise has the ability to prioritize requests based on administrator-defined rules to adjust to server response times according to Service Level Agreements and application priority. Request prioritization and routing are not provided by Oracle WebLogic Server.
In reference to cloud support, WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance was recently found to reduce software labor hours by up to 80% compared to manual deployment. Oracle has a new, less mature offering, Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder that is labor-intensive to install, configure and is not as secure. While the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance supports major virtualization platforms, including VMware, PowerVM and z/VM, Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder only supports Oracle VM. There are many other differences, including the cost—the WebSphere CloudBurst Applicance is one-third the cost of the Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder for a medium-sized deployment and is much easier to use.
These are just a few of the differences to consider when comparing WAS to WebLogic. For more in-depth information, click here: Why pay more and get less? Or register for the Webcast: 3 smart ways Oracle customers can save.
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