Analyzing tricks competitors play – Pushing less functional product versions

This is my fourth article that analyzes marketing and sales tricks I believe competitors of Red Hat JBoss Middleware use.(see previous articles 1, 2, 3) In this article I want to present how competitors sometimes position products with lesser capabilities than the Red Hat JBoss Middleware product they are competing against. Competitors commonly use this tactic to improve their ability to compete relative to a Red Hat subscription.

Sometimes customer’s use cases allow for the lower level of functionality and/or scalability to be acceptable. And in such cases, I applaud the competition for not trying to oversell the customer. But there is a small flaw in the approach. First, in most cases the competition is simply reducing the gap in pricing between themselves and Red Hat. Second, whenever competitors use this tactic is used, Red Hat is typically offering the customer more functionality without artificially constraining product scalability.

But talk is cheap, so let me present what I believe are some examples of this behavior when competitors compete against Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works, Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, and Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite.

Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works – observed MuleSoft tactic

Put simply, I don’t see MuleSoft as being capable of matching the full functionality of Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works.

    • Mule ESB Enterprise provides business rules and complex event processing functionality using the Drools Rules Engine 5.0 from the JBoss community. However, the current Drools version is 6.0 which has significant, documented differences from the older 5.0 release.1 Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works includes and supports Drools 6.0.
    • Mule ESB Enterprise provides business process management functionality using jBPM 4.4 from the JBoss community.2 The current jBPM version is 6.0 and one of many significant differences between jBPM 4.4 and 6.0 is BPMN 2.0 support. BPMN 2.0 is the popular business process modeling standard in use today. JBPM 4.4 process designs are based on jBPM process definition language (jPDL) with no support provided for BPMN 2.0. Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works supports jBPM 6.0.
    • Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works includes HornetQ for reliable messaging capabilities. HornetQ implements the Java™ Message Service (JMS) 1.1 specification and provides reliable messaging for the platform. Mule ESB Enterprise does not include JMS as part of the product packaging. Instead, messaging is provided via a third-party vendor.3

But does all of the Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works functionality work together? Yes, Red Hat JBoss Fuse Service Works use service component architecture (SCA—an open standard) to organize and assemble integration project functionality4 following service-oriented architecture (SOA) principles.

Mule ESB Enterprise does not use an open standard like SCA for service solution assembly. Instead, Mule ESB Enterprise uses a proprietary service assembly process that developers use to stitch together solutions.

Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform – observed IBM tactics

I believe that IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment edition is the best IBM WebSphere Application sever edition to compare with the Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform when looking for similar functionality. Why not some of the other IBM WebSphere Application Server editions?

IBM WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core

IBM WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core is sometimes proposed as an alternative to the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform. This WebSphere edition provides Java EE 6 web profile support but is missing Java EE 6 full profile support. This means you are missing important functionality such as JMS messaging, JCA connectivity, SOAP connectivity, and the ability to add simple system integration based on WSDL contracts. These features, and others such as clustering, management and monitoring, are included with a managed JBoss Enterprise Application Platform subscription but missing from IBM WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core.5 These are significant gaps in functionality that make IBM WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core a poor comparison to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform.

IBM WebSphere Application Server Express

IBM WebSphere Application Server Express edition licensing includes terms and conditions that limit deployment options. As specified by IBM in a product announcement letter, this edition “is limited to single-server implementations and up to a maximum of 480 Processor Value Units per server. Larger servers representing more than 480 PVUs may be segmented into smaller virtual servers, but Express may not be installed on more than 480 PVUs on a single (physical) server.”6 IBM processor value units (PVUs) vary by processor brand and type.7 For Intel based servers, this means that IBM WebSphere Application Server Express edition terms and conditions could limit usage to as little as 4 cores per server.

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform has no maximum core count restrictions based on processor brand and type provided. Customers simply need to ensure that their subscription includes a sufficient number of cores to accommodate all application platform deployments. In addition, JBoss Enterprise Application Platform can be clustered over multiple servers and is not limited to single-server implementations like IBM WebSphere Application Server Express edition.

WebSphere Application Server edition

WebSphere Application Server edition, sometimes referred to as base edition, may also be compared to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform at times. This WebSphere Application Server edition does not include significant clustering abilities included in JBoss Enterprise Application Platform. Specifically, JBoss Enterprise Application Platform clustering abilities include both load balancing and failover benefits.8 Some of the subsystems that can be made highly available include:

    • Instances of the Application Server
    • The Web Subsystem / Servlet Container
    • Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB), including stateful, stateless, and entity beans
    • Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI) services
    • Single Sign On (SSO) Mechanisms
    • Distributed cache
    • HTTP sessions
    • JMS services and message-driven beans (MDBs)

WebSphere Application Server edition by comparison only provides support for HTTP/HTTPS load balancing and failover. There is no support for the additional JBoss Enterprise Application Platform clustering abilities listed above. This limitation in Red Hat’s opinion eliminates WebSphere Application Server edition as a viable comparison product for the full capabilities of JBoss Enterprise Application Platform.

Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform – observed Oracle tactic

The Oracle WebLogic server is available in three editions; WebLogic Server Standard Edition, WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition, and WebLogic Suite. WebLogic Suite seems to be most commonly sold as a pre-requisite for Oracle SOA Suite leaving WebLogic Server Standard Edition and WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition to go head-to-head against the Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform. The WebLogic Server Standard Edition can be priced by socked which can make it substantially cheaper than WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition which is priced by core. However, there are several features missing from WebLogic Server Standard Edition that are in WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition. Most notable of these is clustering which means you miss out on: 9

    • Application failover
      When an application component becomes unavailable for any reason, a copy of the failed object finishes the job. In case of hardware or other failures, session state is available to other cluster nodes that can resume the work of the failed node.
    • Cluster management and administration
      Creating a cluster of Managed Servers enables management and administration of these clustered servers as a single entity. Cluster management and administration features are provided for configuration, application deployment, and monitoring purposes.
    • Automatic and manual migration of a clustered server instance from one computer to another using Server Migration
      Using Service Migration, the uninterrupted availability of singleton services — services that must run on only a single server instance at any given time, such as JMS and the JTA transaction recovery system — is ensured when the hosting server instance fails.
    • Load balancing
      Incoming requests can be routed to a WebLogic Server instance in the cluster based on the volume of work being processed.

With any Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform subscription you get full clustering capabilities. Would you run your enterprise applications without clustering for failover?

Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite – observed Oracle tactic

Oracle BPM Suite is significantly more expensive than Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite. One tactic I have seen Oracle use to try and maneuver around this disadvantage is to position Oracle Business Process Management Standard Edition (Oracle BPM SE) instead of its full BPM Suite offering. Oracle Business Process Management Standard Edition (Oracle BPM SE) is positioned as an entry level BPM offering designed to help organizations implement their first few processes in order to prove the value of BPM within an organization. Oracle BPM SE has many usage restrictions compared to the traditional Oracle Unified Business Process Management Suite (Oracle BPM Suite) such as:

    • No clustering
    • No business process simulation
    • No complimentary technology: BPEL, Complex Event Processing, Oracle Service Bus, Oracle B2B, healthcare integration, Process spaces, or WebCenter Portal (for use with Process Portal/Process Spaces only) functionality

With a Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite subscription you get clustering and business process simulation capabilities. You also get the capabilities of Red Hat JBoss BRMS which includes business rules execution, business rules management and complex event processing.

2“Drools Module Reference.” Current Mule Documenation. MuleSoft. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.mulesoft.org/documentation/display/current/Drools Module Reference>.

3“Compatibility.” Current Mule Documentation. MuleSoft. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.mulesoft.org/documentation/display/current/Compatibility>.

4“Service Component Architecture (SCA) | OASIS Open CSA.” Service Component Architecture (SCA) | OASIS Open CSA. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.oasis-opencsa.org/sca>.

6“WebSphere Application Server family.” IBM. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. <http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/was-overview>.

7“Processor Value Unit [PVU] licensing for Distributed Software.” IBM. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. <http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/passportadvantage/pvu_licensing_for_customers.html>.

8“JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6 Clustering.” Red Hat. N.p., 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. <http://www.redhat.com/resourcelibrary/reference-architectures/jboss-eap-6-clustering>.

9“2.2.2.3.2 Cluster Support.” Oracle Fusion Middleware Licensing Informtion. Oracle. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <https://docs.oracle.com/middleware/1212/core/FMWLC/products2.htm#sthref20>.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *