Oct 7th, 2008 by sharps
The Websphere Marketing team must be overjoyed to read the recent EDC report – “Application Servers 2008 Rankings” by Janel Garvin (it’s free but you need to register). The report is almost too good to be true for Big Blue – Not only does IBM win outright but it also kicks BEA / Oracle’s butt all the way back to 7th place (out of eight) – something they’ve been wanting to do since the dawn of time – and of all the years; it happens this year – Websphere’s 10th anniversary. Incredible timing. Even more incredible – Geronimo comes in at #2 – another big win for IBM (who sponsor Geronimo). The Websphere Marketing team won’t even have to work hard to turn this into some positive PR. The independent report starts like this :
IBM’s WebSphere application server is now ten years old, and during that time, it has evolved and matured into what its users think of as the best application server anywhere, but most especially in the large enterprise market where IBM has traditionally had its home. Make no mistake about it, WebSphere is a powerhouse in many ways, and its users truly love this
Fantastic – already written in press-ready language – could be lifted and dropped straight into a press release. So good – it could have been written by Websphere’s marketing team themselves !
OK, by now you think you’ve seen through by thinly veiled blast at EDC’s report. You think I’m bitter because JBoss came in 5th (out of eight). Right ?
Well hold on. Though I have some issues with the report which I’ll get to – JBoss actually did very well – after all we beat Weblogic – which is no small feat. And there are other bits of the report worth highlighting. Here’s one quote I like which enforces what many other analysts are saying about JBoss and something that differentiates us from our Open Source brethren :
JBoss Enterprise Application Platform competes with Oracle’s Application Server, WebLogic, and IBM’s WebSphere in the high-end market for large corporate applications. The recent acquisition of BEA by Oracle may provoke some consternation and uncertainty amongst the end users of both WebLogic and Oracle AS, which in turn provides an opportunity for both JBoss and IBM.
And another that demonstrates that JBoss is focussed on our customer’s highest priorities :
JBoss really shone in the areas of security where users gave it the best ratings of any product in the survey, compatibility with other software, and the very important value to cost ratio.
The second point is worth repeating, given the economic situation we find ourselves in – JBoss had the best value to cost ratio.
So I’m actually not bitter – if you’re the underdog competing with some significantly larger competitors – this kind of validation is golden and It shows that JBoss is till punching way above it’s weight. I’m not bitter but my spidey-senses are tingling; there’s something just not right about this report.
I find EDC’s methodology odd. It’s not clear how many responses were received for each question or for each vendor. For example you would expect to see many responses for Windows Server 2003 vs something like NetWeaver (which isn’t quite as main stream) – the number of responses is significant both statistically and as a proxy for adoption / acceptance.
Bucks the general consensus
The results just don’t seem right. I’ve worked for 2 of the vendors on the list (previously Sun and currently Red Hat) and know the other vendors really well having been involved in this space for as long as anyone. Though I trust my instinct – that isn’t good enough so let’s compare some other data. Forrester recently released a report (also based on a user survey) covering some aspects of the EDC report. In that report WAS 6 did significantly better than WAS 5 but generally scored lower than JBoss. For example :
The EDC report doesn’t correlate with the summary points of the recent Burton report on JBoss. Also it doesn’t correlate with our own (sponsored) satisfaction surveys (like this). I find it strange that WAS scores so well and Weblogic scores so badly – putting them in seventh plance out of eight just seems a little too extreme and a little to convenient. I’ve yet to personally meet a Websphere customer who says good things about WAS – maybe I only meet the customers who’ve already decided to move to JBoss ?
Third – I talk to customers every week and Red Hat’s sales team a couple of times a day and I just don’t see Geronimo mentioned at all – few if any user satisfaction surveys actually call out Geronimo – what was it about these respondents that give them an unrepresentative affinity towards Geronimo ? I just don’t understand why Geronimo is in the survey.
So a couple of request to EDC – 1. open up the unfettered results; 2. provide a little more detail on the methodology; and 3. confirm that this was a purely independent survey that wasn’t paid for or unduly influenced by any of the vendors included in the survey.