Thursday, June 25, 2009

Java app server popularity wanes, except for one

Java app server popularity is on the decline -- if Google search volume is any indication. The above graphic (from Google Trends) shows five years of data representing search volume (upper portion) and news-citation volume (lower) for keywords "apache tomcat","websphere","jboss," and (just for fun) "weblogic." The trend lines are pretty convincing, it seems to me. Only Tomcat (which of course lacks full-blown app server status and is the orange in this apples-to-apples comparison) has a relatively steady trend line. The trajectory for all others is about the same as that of the U.S. Airways jet that landed in the Hudson.

In recent years, some of the lack of app-server-targeted new development has shifted to development that targets runtime frameworks like Spring. But it appears even interest in Spring has peaked.

The news for Java runtime containers is not all bad, however. One open-source application server -- namely Glassfish -- has been coming on strong.

What's interesting about Glassfish, of course (aside from the fact that it has a microkernel based on OSGi), is that it's a Sun Microsystems-backed project, with Sun providing commercial support for the enterprise version of the server. That means the future of the enterprise version rests with Oracle. One wonders what, if anything, Oracle will do with it.


  1. Would be interesting to know if Java in general is on the decline (on the expense of PHP?) or that Tomcat is taking over the market. With the continuing fragmentation of the Java market, especially on the JEE side (courtesy in my opinion by not standardizing OSGi in the JEE spec), I wouldn't be surprised if usage of Java as an appserver platform in general is declining.

  2. Anonymous8:31 AM

    It is worthwhile noting that while glassfish is trending up it is still way below websphere in absolute terms.

  3. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Trends from are quite different:

  4. Anonymous4:21 AM

    I would question how correlated trends on searches for names of Servers are to the actual use of those servers - I'd think that by now, for example, most people interested in the field would know where to go to get JBoss specific information, etc.

  5. I completely agree with the previous anonymous comment.
    Trends are good to evaluate the interest in a new/recent product (hence the relevance of the Glassfish Trends, as Glassfish has just released a new product preview: v3).

  6. I am with the last two. I think this could also represent that community knowledge of how to use and implement app servers could be reflecting in these trends. As this knowledge matures the internet becomes less utilized for looking up how to implement app server features. Likely current searches are mostly (maybe 80%) for looking up fixes, bug issues, and support research in general.

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