Fish story

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 10.29.42In recent months, Middleware specialist C2B2 has turned its attention the Java EE application server, developing a new solution named Payara, which is designed to push GlassFish “upstream.” Here, C2B2 Founder and Director Steve Milldge introduces this badass new solution.

Voxxed: Why was it so important to you to create a replacement for GlassFish when there are a number of Java EE solutions out there?

Steve: GlassFish is a great application server so by no means are we trying to replace it! When Oracle announced last year that they would no longer provide commercial support for GlassFish, we sat back and watched as numerous industry bloggers labelled GlassFish as ‘dead’ and ‘reduced to a toy’.

In our opinion this couldn’t be further from the truth and what most bloggers failed to mention was that Oracle announced that they will continue to release updates of GlassFish and it will remain the Reference Implementation for JavaEE. To us, this doesn’t sound like Oracle are looking to ‘kill’ GlassFish at all.

The announcement understandably left some of those organisations who are using GlassFish in production slightly anxious about the future as it seemed they were left with two options; migrate to WebLogic as Oracle recommended; or migrate to another application server altogether.

We wanted to offer those organisations a third option which is where Payara comes in. Payara is 24/7 software support for GlassFish Server Open Source Edition. If companies want to stick with GlassFish, they can do so with the peace of mind that they are fully supported by a team of dedicated, expert engineers.

Payara Server is our own distribution of GlassFish Open Source Edition, built from the upstream GlassFish source tree and designed to be a drop-in replacement for GlassFish. We will provide bug fixes, patches and quarterly releases that incorporate fixes submitted to GlassFish source dependant projects such as Tyrus, Jersey and Metro. All of our own fixes and enhancements we will aim to get incorporated into the upstream GlassFish project and of course, we also offer 24/7 support for Payara Server.

How long has Payara been in development, and who were the main committers behind it?

Payara Server has been in development for almost four months now so we are still in the early stages! In the next coming months, we are really interested in speaking to those who use, or have used GlassFish in production and finding out where they would like to see changes and improvements, we would then look to implement this into Payara Server.

The team behind Payara are the expert engineers that work for C2B2 Consulting. As an independent Middleware Support and Consultancy firm, the team collectively have years of experience in working with many different middleware products from a variety of vendors and have gained skills and expertise from working closely with customers in order to support their middleware infrastructures.

What are the differences between Payara and GlassFish? 

Because we are still in the early stages of development, Payara Server is still similar to GlassFish. However, our main focus is to make Payara Server the best application server for operational environments which is why we are focusing on the DevOps people. We are looking at support for advanced database features such as Oracle RAC, Enhanced Diagnostics, and Integration with popular identity management products e.g. Open IdM, monitoring dashboards and much more. If there’s something specific somebody would like to see, we encourage them to sponsor a feature.

How does it compare to the other leading GlassFish alternatives?

The obvious GlassFish alternatives and the ones that have cropped up the most in conversations since Oracle’s announcement last November are JBoss EAP 6, WildFly and TomEE.

GlassFish, JBoss EAP 6, WildFly and TomEE are all open source, light weight and developer friendly and have advantages in different areas. WildFly, GlassFish and JBoss EAP 6 all include the full JavaEE platform whereas TomEE just provides the web profile.

Then there are the big commercial products from IBM, WebSphere and WebLogic. These are also fantastic application servers with many advanced features.

You helped chair a JavaOne BOF which rallied the community to come together and help push forward development on GlassFish. Have you seen a drop in community activity since Oracle removed support, and do you see a genuine danger that it will become overtaken by other open source projects?

I wouldn’t say there has been a drop in community activity since Oracle removed support. However for obvious reasons there has been a drop in responsiveness from Oracle on the GlassFish JIRA which has led to some frustration. This is why, through Payara, we are looking to respond to that frustration and focus the passion into contributions to Payara. We are able to be responsive to community needs and rapidly fix bugs and create new features which we can then work with Oracle to get into upstream in slower time. In fact we are already seeing pull requests and bug fixes from the community.

What were the most interesting outcomes of this BOF? Were there any particularly interesting issues/ points raised?

What came out of the BOF was that most of the features people are looking for are not actually core to GlassFish as GlassFish is a solid feature complete JavaEE application server. People were looking for integrations with the wider open source eco-system. Things like integrations with open source caches like Hazelcast, Identity systems like Forgerock, NoSQL stores, and DevOps tools like Chef, Puppet and Docker.

What direction would you like to see GlassFish taking in the next 12 months?

Most importantly, I’d like to see organisations that are using GlassFish in production continue to do so. GlassFish is a great application server and a high quality product, so it would be a shame for organisations to think that it is no longer viable to use just because it’s not commercially supported by Oracle. Oracle have just released a new version of GlassFish 4.1 with a whole bunch of fixes and we’d love to see them continue with that.

It’s important for the community to remain active and contribute to the open source project so that GlassFish remains an innovative and popular open source Java EE application server.

If people want to get involved with Payara, what can they do?

Payara Server is open source so we are totally open to ideas and feedback. Our GitHub repository is and we encourage anyone with an interest in GlassFish to check it out and contribute bug fixes and feature ideas. If there are any questions, you can ask us on StackOverFlow by tagging it with Payara.

We also organise and sponsor the London GlassFish User Group. The user group aims to distribute GlassFish and Payara related knowledge and provide a meeting place for GlassFish users to share resources and solutions, expand technology expertise, drink beer and eat pizza with likeminded techies!

Curious to learn more? ‘We think Fish aficionados and Generation Y cartoon fans alike will appreciate this animated intro to the software: 

A GlassFish Alternative with Teeth

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