For some enterprise Java users, Java EE is not the right solution for their middleware server — Apache Tomcat is.
Tomcat is a widely deployed open source Java JSP
One of the commercial implementations of Tomcat comes from software vendor MuleSoft with its Tcat Server, which this week it updated to version R2 this week.
The MuleSoft Tcat server adds management features on top of the open source Apache Tomcat to make the server easier to manage and deploy.
“In R1 and with plain vanilla Tomcat, users had to manually edit the configuration files and manually set environment variables,” Sateesh Narahari, director of product management at MuleSoft, told InternetNews.com. “This often required users to manually log in to each Tomcat server and do the manual tasks.”
Narahari added that MuleSoft has also included configuration management in Tcat R2. The configuration management console enables multiple Tcat servers to be restarted at once — unlike regular Apache Tomcat servers, which often requires users to perform manual restarts.
While the management options are new, MuleSoft’s Tcat server tracks very closely with the Apache Tomcat releases.
“Tcat Server includes Apache Tomcat 6.0.20 today, although it also supports Tomcat v5.5, and it will support 6.0.21 as soon as it is released, as well as 7.0 when it is released,” Narahari said.” Because Tcat Server relies on vanilla Tomcat and we do not modify the Apache distribution, it is easy for Tcat Server to support new releases of Apache as soon they are announced.”
Unlike the open source Tomcat, the Tcat server itself is not open source: The new configuration management features added by MuleSoft in Tcat are built with MuleSoft’s own intellectual property and are not currently open source licensed.
However, Narahari noted that Tcat is free for unlimited use in development and testing, and only requires a subscription if it is run in a production environment.
MuleSoft competes against VMware’s SpringSource division and its tc server in the market for commercial Tomcat solutions. SpringSource — perhaps best known for Spring Framework, its open source, lightweight Java development framework — last updated tc server in October with a developer-focused edition.
While new commercial support options for Tomcat means greater competition for vendors in the space, supporters also see Tomcat benefitting as well. For one thing, Narahari said that until recently, the biggest barrier to enterprise adoption has been a lack of viable options for enterprise support.
“Now that we and others have announced enterprise support for Tomcat, we expect this barrier to be reduced,” Narahari said.
One of the other key sources of competition for Tomcat comes from full-blown Java EE servers. The Java EE 6 specification was recently finalized with the first server implementations coming to market.
Still, Tomcat’s supporters see there being a real need for their approach.
“There is nothing wrong with Java EE 6. It is a wonderful standard, but it includes many technologies that 90 percent of web application developers do not use,” Narahari said. “The argument against Java EE app servers though is that they build complexity into the app server in order to support full Java EE stack. It then becomes a customers’ responsibility to strip out what they need by using complicated configuration and testing exercises.”