A few months ago JBoss Application Server v6.0, the open-source unsupported version, was released. At the time in the announcement it was mentioned that the 6.0 version had been certified for the Java EE 6 ‘Web Profile’, which requires a subset of the Java EE technologies, but that the 6.0 version had not been certified against the ‘full’ Java EE 6 profile. The reasoning given was that ‘resource constraints’ would add to the time taken to perform the full certification and JBoss felt it was important to release JBoss AS 6.0 to the community so that people who wanted to begin developing Java EE 6 applications with JBoss could do so.
It wasn’t very long before there were discussions in the community trying to clarify what this meant. One thread in particular became very popular and has since received almost 14,000 views showing that this is clearly an important topic for JBoss users. One of the main questions was the level of support for the technologies that JBoss has supported in the past but are not required of the Web Profile. JBoss developers clarified that JBoss did support technologies like JMS, JAX-WS web services, and others but that they were just not “certified” because the certification had not been done for the full Java EE 6 Profile. Of course this raised simply more questions and it was quickly clear that most of the community was unclear about the direction of JBoss, especially for the future JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP) which is the supported version many clients use.
To help get the opinion of the community in a little more scientific way than just forum posts I created a survey about some of the questions and issues surrounding JBoss Java EE 6 certification. The survey is still open so you can take it if you haven’t already but I wanted to summarize the results so they could help drive the progression of JBoss before JBoss AS 7.0, which is the open source version that will be used in JBoss EAP 6 (yeah, I know it’s confusing), is finalized. Obviously commenting after the fact wouldn’t help anyone so this survey was a way for the community to speak up now.
First of all the survey seemed to be a hit and had 269 responses when I did the analysis described here. The thread that introduced the survey has even been listed as a “featured discussion” in the JBoss forums so maybe that is something done by some of the JBoss developers to help improve community feedback (which I appreciate) and show they are interested in the opinions of the JBoss community.
Before getting into further analysis below I think I can summarize some of the biggest things that seem to be apparent from the results. These points are for the full set of responses, I’ll break down some other groups later.
- By an almost 3-1 margin people were surprised that JBoss AS 6.0 doesn’t support the full Java EE 6 profile
- Generally people are willing to wait several months if that is what it takes to certify JBoss AS for the full Java EE 6 profile
- More people are willing to wait however long it takes for full certification compared to the number not willing to wait at all
- By a 3-1 margin people feel both JBoss AS open source version and JBoss EAP should be certified for the full Java EE 6 profile
- About 40% of people would be “very likely” or “would definitely” switch to another server if JBoss AS or JBoss EAP were not certified for the full Java EE 6 profile
- There was a good sample of JBoss EAP clients with 1 out of 4 indicating they were an EAP customer
First of all, for full accountability I’ve made the summary results of the whole survey available here along with a spread sheet of all of the individual responses available here (for those statistics geeks out there). Other files are also linked at the bottom of this post.
So let’s look at each of the questions and see what we might deduce.
Question #1 asked about various features and how important they were. The clear winner here is obviously performance which I think makes sense since most people have been probably using some form of JBoss AS 5.1 (even within EAP) which has the highest startup time of any recent JBoss version. So clearly the JBoss AS 7.0/JBoss EAP 6.0 focus on performance is critical. For the two certification options it is interesting that people generally took their position on Web Profile certification and either felt that full profile certification was either more important or less important as the full profile option had more responses on the extreme. The average for full profile certification was higher than web profile certification though so more people felt that full certification was more important. Ease of administration did edge out both certification options although this has long been a weakness of JBoss compared to other competitive application servers so again no surprise there and a good support for the effort on usability of JBoss currently underway.
I think question #2 about if people were surprised that JBoss AS 6.0 doesn’t support the full Java EE 6 profile is pretty clear cut. I think this makes it important for those guiding the JBoss development to clearly communicate the intentions for the upcoming versions of JBoss AS and JBoss EAP to address this gap in communication.
Arguably the question could be called misleading since you can make the argument that “doesn’t support” is different than “fully certified” but I think the result is clear that without the “fully certified” stamp of approval there will always be doubt that will be hard to justify to managers, etc.
Question #3 on how long people would be willing to wait clearly indicates that the community would likely be willing to wait some time, as long as it didn’t drag on like JBoss AS 5.0 seemed to. Hopefully the difference between being able to release a Web Profile certified version and a version certified for the full Java EE 6 profile would fall in this range. For those not willing to wait, people can start using JBoss AS 6.0 right now for the newest cutting edge technologies, as suggested by JBoss developers.
Question #4 is pretty clear that people want both the open source and supported platform to be certified for the full Java EE 6 profile. Part of this could be people wanting to use the JBoss AS server without being an EAP client or for EAP clients to have more confidence that full Java EE 6 profile certification was not something introduced at the last minute. Both are valid reasons though so hopefully this is what we might see (otherwise there would be a pretty big distinction between JBoss AS and JBoss EAP).
Question #5 on how likely people are to switch is much more interesting when you break down by groups which I’ll do later. Overall though the notion that JBoss might not be certified for the full Java EE 6 profile has got some people thinking about if they will stick around. Certainly with many more open source Java EE options out there compared to 5 years ago having 17% of your users say “I’m outta here” should cause some concern.
I asked question #6 to really get an idea of how many people taking the survey were JBoss EAP clients (and therefore paying JBoss money 😉 ) because a survey only advertised on the forums could attract a very different subset of people. I think there is a good sample even if you assume all those that said “don’t know” are not EAP clients. This also lets us break down the results to focus on JBoss EAP clients only.
I won’t do much more than highlight the major findings for some groups and link to the file that has the complete cross-tabulated results but I think there are some interesting findings for some groups. I’ve also indicated how many responses are in each group compared to the 269 total responses.
EAP Customers (66) – I think the group JBoss may be most interested in is how the people who indicated they are a JBoss EAP client responded. I think the interesting points are:
- More likely to switch servers if full profile certification is not done (49% “very likely” or “would definitely switch” compared to 40% of all surveys)
- More willing to let JBoss EAP be the only thing certified for full profile (since they are paying for EAP anyway and not using JBoss AS)
- There was not really significant difference in the rating averages of the 4 features in question #1
- There was a difference in the distribution of responses to question #1 though with actually FEWER responses of ‘Extremely Important’ for the certification options and more ‘Very Important’ so kind of bunching up around ‘Very Important’ instead of being quite so widely distributed as all responses were
- Just a few percent higher on being surprised about question #2 on the lack of full profile in JBoss AS 6.0
- More bunching up around waiting 0-3 or 3-6 months for full profile certification
EAP Customers “very likely” or “would definitely” switch servers (32) – You might look at the points above and think “EAP clients won’t really have a different opinion than the larger community”. But if you look further at the subset of EAP clients who are more likely to switch servers there are some clear signs of why they would switch
- This group feels MUCH more strongly that full profile Java EE 6 certification is ‘Extremely Important’, even more important than performance and ease of administration
- This group is MUCH more surprised that JBoss AS 6.0 is not certified for the full Java EE 6 profile, by a factor of 9-1 compared to 3-1 from all surveys
- MUCH more bunched up around waiting 0-3 or 3-6 months for full profile certification although this comes from losing responses on both extremes
All respondents who felt full certification was “very” or “extremely” important (172)
- Similar 8-1 ratio of surprise as the previous group that JBoss AS 6.0 is not full profile certified
- MUCH more interested in seeing both JBoss AS and JBoss EAP certified for the full profile
- More likely to switch servers with the “not likely” category dropping 15% and almost all of these showing up in “very likely” or “would definitely” switch categroies
- Fewer people not willing to wait for certification and these people shift to the 0-3 and 3-6 month range with little change at the longer wait options
All respondents who felt full certification was “not at all” or “somewhat” important (57)
- This group is not really surprised to hear JBoss AS 6.0 is not full profile certified
- This group places the biggest distinction between full profile and web profile certification as the difference in how “important” each are is 1.5 points out of 5 different
- Surprisingly there are a higher percentage in this group willing to wait “however long it takes” for full profile certification although there are also more people on the “not willing to wait” and 0-3 month range so more extremes on that question
- This group is more willing to accept having only JBoss EAP full profile certified
- Not surprisingly this group isn’t going to switch servers if JBoss does not certify against the full Java EE 6 profile
Clearly this survey confirms that full Java EE 6 certification is an issue that the JBoss community cares about. Hopefully the surprise at the approach for JBoss AS 6.0 and the value the community (especially EAP clients) place in full Java EE 6 certification will convince those involved in some of these decisions at JBoss to more clearly communicate the plans for yet-to-be-released versions of JBoss AS and JBoss EAP. Personally I think they are and hopefully this survey has helped that process.
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PS. If you are still reading JBoss is obviously important to you so you might be interested in some of the popular JBoss training courses my company offers… (sorry, had to plug the company on the company blog)