It all started with WebSphere Application Server (WAS), which runs on mainframes and was designed to make applications available on the web. You might think of it as a software framework and middleware that hosts Java-based web applications. It works with different web servers including Apache HTTP Server, Netscape Enterprise Server, Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS), IBM HTTP Server for i5/OS, IBM HTTP Server for z/OS and IBM HTTP Server for AIX/Linux/Microsoft Windows/Solaris. And it’s architected as a distributed computing platform that could be installed on multiple operating system instances.
Fast, Dynamic and Easy to Use
WebSphere Liberty was introduced into WebSphere Application Server V8.5, and was originally called the WebSphere Liberty Profile. In 2016, following a move to continuous delivery of Liberty, IBM changed the numbering scheme to reflect the year and quarter of the Liberty fixpack release. That makes WebSphere Liberty a lightweight downsized version of WAS, which results in it being a fast, dynamic, and easy-to-use Java application server. It’s a combination of IBM technology and open-source software, with fast start-up times, no server restarts to pick up changes and a simple XML configuration. Liberty’s modular architecture allows developers to minimize server size and increase infrastructure utilization. It can be integrated with other frameworks like Docker, Chef, Puppet, Jenkins, and UrbanCode Deploy. Liberty is designed to be highly composable, to start fast, use less memory and scale easily.
According to IBM, Liberty’s original and ongoing design approach is to be highly productive for developers and operationally robust for production, on-premises or in the cloud. Liberty has a modular runtime and configuration system that makes it simple to create an application deployment with just the right amount of runtime capability and no more. The runtime is provided as a set of consistent but configurable features, enabled through a simple yet flexible server.xml definition. At development time, runtime features are dynamically added and removed by editing server.xml without restarting Liberty. For delivery flexibility, configuration can be included in a single file or componentized in files with separate concerns (such as data access, security, etc.). And environment-specific variable substitution is easy to configure in a DevOps pipeline.
That all sounds quite interesting, but why would organizations like banks and other major companies be interested? According to a recent Forrester report titled “The Total Economic Impact Of IBM WebSphere Liberty,” “Developers are increasingly looking for accessible, low-cost software products that are innovative and responsive in order to support the digital transformation that the business demands. Forrester has found that over 50% of the Fortune 100 use OpenStack, and over 50% of the Fortune 500 use Cloud Foundry. Additionally, 33% of global infrastructure decision makers at enterprises see adopting more open source infrastructure as a high or critical priority. IBM’s new Open Liberty server runtime has open-sourced the WebSphere Liberty architecture, providing developers with open source benefits like low-cost experimentation, customization, and access to a rapidly evolving ecosystem. Open Liberty shares the same code base as WebSphere Liberty, so organizations can begin development in Open Liberty and seamlessly move applications to WebSphere Liberty for support in production.”
The key findings of the report were:
· WebSphere Liberty makes developers 25% more productive than previous application servers. WebSphere Liberty’s lightweight and composable runtime, integration with developer tools, and zero-migration architecture are just some of the reasons for the improvement in developer productivity. These efficiency benefits extend to application migration as well, saving on average almost $500,000 in developer time spent on migration efforts.
· On average, organizations save 1.2 administrator FTEs by migrating to WebSphere Liberty. Organizations find that everything from creating instances to patching is simplified with WebSphere Liberty compared to prior application server environments.
· Improvements in application availability, performance and innovation increase end user productivity and generate up to $3.75 million in incremental revenue per year. A subsection of end users saves on average 30 minutes per week due to improvement in application uptime and performance, while developers drive up to $3.75 million in incremental revenue per year with innovative features.
· WebSphere Liberty’s smaller footprint reduces infrastructure costs, with an average 30% improvement in density. WebSphere Liberty is lightweight, composable and has better throughput than other Java EE application servers, improving infrastructure utilization.
The Forrester report went on to suggest that organizations are beginning to use the new Open Liberty platform in the development environment for innovation and experimentation. Open Liberty brings the benefits of open source to WebSphere Liberty, sharing the same code base so that developers can easily begin application innovation in Open Liberty and migrate to WebSphere Liberty for support. Open Liberty provides the latest features to enable cloud-native applications, zero-cost experimentation, and access to the open source community.
Liberty can be used with CICS and IMS to make the applications available with those subsystems available to users on the web, and so extend or modernize the use of those applications.
All in all, Liberty is a useful addition to a modern mainframe environment.