IBM’s Red Hat buy brings a Java app server dilemma

Its Red Hat buy comes with Java products that compete with IBM’s—in a market that is shrinking anyhow

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IBM’s acquisition of Linux distributor Red Hat has been positioned as a hybrid-cloud play, but the deal also gives IBM control over what have been competing Java application server lines. IBM will have to figure out what to do about these redundancies and perhaps reassess the technology itself, in an IT landscape where options such as containers have these servers diminishing in importance anyhow.

The $34 billion deal would leave IBM with its own WebSphere application server as well as its Open Liberty open source server, plus Red Hat’s open source Java server technologies, including the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, the WildFly server, and the Thorntail server. IBM’s Red Hat purchase won’t close until late 2019, so it could be some time until this is all sorted out, with both companies remaining separate entities until then.

In Java application server market share, JBoss and WildFly had a combined market share of 13.8 percent in 2017, according to software usage monitor Plumbr—far below the 63.8 percent share garnered by leader Apache Tomcat, which has fewer features than a commercial application server like WebSphere.

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