IBM Doubles Down on Enterprise Java with WebSphere Liberty

With the release last week of WebSphere Liberty, the latest version if its Java application server, IBM became the first commercial vender to provide a certified Java EE 8 runtime.

This release brings together the latest Java EE and MicroProfile technologies with the specific aim of simplifying the task of building cloud-native Java applications and microservices, the company said. It also "demonstrates IBM's long-standing commitment to Java developers to provide them with the latest Java EE APIs."

"We've seen some really great changes in the industry lately," said Melissa Modjeski, IBM's Director of WebSphere Application Development, "with things like the MicroProfile and Jakarta EE, and we're very excited to be a part of those changes and bringing all of the challenges we've seen with enterprise Java in the past to a better place."

WebSphere Liberty is the commercial project based on the Open Liberty Project, the open-source implementation of Eclipse MicroProfile and Java EE. The project was created about five years ago when IBM released its Liberty development assets to open source under the Eclipse Public License v1. The project's goal is to make it possible for Java microservices to be updated frequently and easily moved among different cloud environments.

The company released the code underlying WebSphere Liberty to open source last year to GitHub, where it became available under the same Eclipse Public License. Open Liberty represents the company's largest contribution to open source to date.

Both WebSphere Liberty and Open Liberty are included in IBM Cloud Private, the company's container-based Kubernetes application platform.

Modjeski's group has been actively involved in the transition of enterprise Java from Oracle (Java EE) to Eclipse (Jakarta EE), she said, and even encouraged the company "down that path" and helped to shape the outcome.

"Jakarta is going to be much more open, and there has been a lot of discussion around moving specs forward faster, but all that is something we have been pushing for a while now," she told ADTmag. "Remember that IBM is one of the founding members of the MicroProfile Foundation. We really felt that we needed a way to collaborate more closely with vendors and clients, and also to incubate technologies more quickly than the Java EE process in the JCP was allowing us to do."

The big news in this release is the app server's Java EE 8 compatibility certification, but this version of WebSphere Liberty also adds enhanced support for Spring Boot 2.0.

"We've had support for Spring 1.5," Modjeski said. "With new support for Spring 2.0, we've made it easier to consume a Spring Boot application in Liberty. In the past, developers had to repackage their Spring applications as WAR files to get them to run on Liberty. We've taken that barrier away. We now support deploying Spring Boot apps as JARs directly to Liberty."

This release also addresses some issues around running a Spring Boot application in a Docker container.

"We've provided a way for Spring developers deploying into Docker containers to deploy just the updates to their apps, which significantly reduces the size of the things you're pushing. Obviously, it varies among applications, but we believe you can reduce your push size up to 90 percent."

Modjeski's group has seen some big changes recently in the enterprise Java space to which they have had to adapt. But the new faster Java release cadence, announced by Oracle earlier this year, was not one of them.

"We've been speeding up the pace of our releases for quite some time now," she said. "We've gone from two-years to quarterly. The real challenge, if you keep in mind that we're providing an enterprise platform, has been to ensure that, as we speed up our innovation, we continue to provide the same quality and stability that our clients need."

IBM is hosting two Virtual Proof of Technology sessions designed to get Liberty users up and running, including Q&A sessions with the company's Liberty Architects. You can register for the July 11 session here, and the August 8 session here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].