UPDATE: As it turns out my guess that there would be an “intermediate” release was correct. WebSphere 8.5.5 was released recently which mostly has updates for the Liberty profile being a certified implementation of the Java EE 6 Web profile. The Redbooks updates was obviously for this 8.5.5 version. The other points are still true though and I would be surprised if there is not an announcement of WebSphere 9.0 at or before the Impact 2014 conference next spring.
ORIGINAL POST: I know for those of you out there using WebSphere, the initial reaction to the title of this blog post is probably “But we haven’t even finished migrating to WebSphere 8.0/8.5!” I myself didn’t think a new WebSphere version could be waiting in the wings but there have been a few interesting data points to consider:
– Java EE 7 should be final by end of May this year (https://javaee.github.io/javaee-spec/).
– Many Java EE 7 JSRs are already in final review (https://jcp.org/en/jsr/stage?listBy=proposed).
– IBM Redbooks had a residency open to update several core WebSphere Redbooks to “the latest release of WebSphere Application Server”. This was only open to IBM employees since people who work on the Redbook would obviously get a “sneak peek” at the next WebSphere.
Although thinking about when WebSphere 9 might be released is interesting, I think there is another possibility, that there will be some “intermediate” release that includes updates mainly to the Liberty profile, the lightweight server that IBM is trying to tailor to developers. Perhaps there will be something like an 8.5.5 release mainly to pick up updates to the Liberty profile.
A lot of the discussion of what’s “next” for WebSphere seems to focus mainly on the Liberty profile. Initially the Liberty profile released with WebSphere 8.5 did not support all of the technologies required of the Java EE 6 “Web profile” subset. I had hoped it would since the purpose of the “Web profile” was to drop the requirements for some of the more heavyweight APIs of a full Java EE server and that seemed to be what they were looking to do with Liberty. In particular, Liberty in WebSphere 8.5.0 did not support CDI (Contexts and Dependency Injection) and EJB “Lite” (the subset of EJB features required of the Web profile). With some of the new Liberty samples it seems this functionality is now there.
I’m hoping that if IBM does release something like a WebSphere 8.5.5 to pick up updates to Liberty profile, they don’t release the 9.0 version of the RAD and Eclipse tools at the same time (check here for details on using WebSphere with Eclipse!). Having a version of RAD that was meant for a different version of WebSphere was confusing enough in the RAD 7.0/WAS 6.1 and RAD 7.5/WAS 7.0 days and it was nice that the versions were synched up again. Hopefully they will wait to release WAS 9 and RAD 9 together, something that argues the case that WebSphere 9 might be closer than we think.
Remember that all of this is pure speculation but it appears things are still moving along with the WebSphere product line. Unless it takes quite a long time (which I don’t think it will) I do know that once WebSphere 9 is released we are going to jump on it. If we do get 3 major releases of WebSphere over the span of 3-4 years this will still be a fairly rapid pace for IBM and we will have clients pursuing lots of different migration paths.
One place where a lot of this confusion about what might happen next may get cleared up is the upcoming IBM Impact conference in late April/early May. I won’t be able to go this year but if anyone else does and finds out anything about what might be going on with WebSphere next please report back here!