In the world of Java servlet engines, there are but a few major players. Everybody is familiar with the 800 lb gorillas -- BEA’s WebLogic and IBM’s Websphere. Oracle has a commercial product in the Oracle Application Server, while the open source offerings Jakarta Tomcat and RedHat’s JBoss round out the major players in the space. But hold the show, according to an InformationWeek article, use of the Tomcat engine outpaces that of it’s competition by a rather surprising margin. And according to BZ Research, 64.3% of the respondents participating in a Java survey from December 2006 are using the Tomcat engine, with Websphere in use at 36.9%, JBoss in use at 32%, WebLogic in use at 23.7% and the Oracle Application Server in use at 22.4% of the environments.


How can that be? Even without the comforts of a commercial organization around it, the Jakarta Project’s “Little Engine That Could” can and does get it done in nearly two shops for every Websphere shop. How could it be so? They did it without budgets. They did it without stock. They did it without promotions, or even vendor-lock.

It’s Popular Because it’s Powerful

Basic, standards compliant and well priced, the licensing model provides for the ubiquity necessary to bring adoption beyond the “tipping point”. This has been proven through the adoption of some of the most popular pieces of software in use today, such as the Apache HTTP server. Competing vendors have worked to leverage that widespread use of Tomcat in the development space. By running code that’s designed to run in Tomcat, they can make their environment more economically plausible than if a commercial license was required for every development instance. In an era of tightening budgets, use of the appropriate technology for the appropriate purpose is becoming critical. For the fiscally responsible shop that’s running one of the major commercial products, using the Tomcat for the development environment can help dramatically reduce the cost of your infrastructure, while ensuring that you have still met the needs of your customer. And that will make your finance wonks as happy as your customers.