Saturday, March 22, 2008

Glassfish - Initial Thoughts

So NCAA tourny games didn't start till 2:10 Saturday and I took the opportunity in the morning to test drive Glassfish, an open source JEE app server like Jboss. So far I'm mildly impressed with Glassfish. Install is as simple as running 2 commands from a command line, both of which are clearly explained on the download page. The 2 commands unzip an archive and run an ANT task to setup the rest of the server. Starting up the server is simple and quick though not quite as intuitive as run.bat for Jboss. Deploying a CFML engine is simple as can be, navigate to the autodeploy folder and drop in the CFML engine war (or ear). BlueDragon and ColdFusion started up without issue and a marker file is created in the deploy directory once an application is deployed. As the name suggests applications are auto deployed once dropped in the autodeploy directory and subsequent file changes are picked up real time. The whole experience is right on par with Jboss. I was able to get a single server cluster of BlueDragon up and running in less than 40 minutes and I only had to refer to the instructions on Glassfish's wiki once. Keep in mind I am no server admin so 40 minutes with little instruction is pretty good. The entire experience with the web based GUI admin was pleasant and fairly intuitive, though a tad sluggish in a few spots (this may have been more my PC than anything else). Server startup and shut down are comparable to Jboss; Glassfish maybe a little faster with starting ColdFusion and starting BlueDragon is blazing fast in either environment. I did not get into load testing or anything of that nature but my test application which uses Fusebox and ACEGI started up quick and my test cases ran without error.

I only had a couple of dislikes, for instance the default configuration redirects all log messages to a log file instead of showing log messages in a console. Another gripe is the install, while not hard, is not as easy as Jboss. Advanced configuration however seems easier with Glassfish's slick GUI admin and I would rate that more important than a 2 step install in the Enterprise market; unfortunately if it is harder to install developer adoption maybe slower. Not that Glassfish was hard to install, far from it, but it is not quite the "unzip wherever" install like Jboss. My only other ding is WTP does not package Glassfish adapters with the server manager for Eclipse, so I had to download one. Downloading the adapter was simple enough through the provided interface in Eclipse and configuration the Glassfish adapter was pretty much the same as configuring Jboss. I was also happy to see the default startup commands used in Eclipse force logging information to the console which was one of my complaints earlier.

I would say Glassfish is a solid competitor and I see a huge potential for Glassfish. Especially after Red Hat took over the Jboss product and more or less alienated many enterprise customers with the licensing changes. If you are evaluating app servers take a serious look at Glassfish. I certainly hope Adobe considers supporting Glassfish in future releases.


Damon Gentry said...

I've been playing with Glassfish and ColdFusion at my office. Give me a shout if you've got any questions.

Nazrul said...

I filed a enhancement request to fix the startup issue in GF v3. See issue #4637.

GF V3 is also fixing the installation experience.

-- Nazrul

Adam Haskell said...

Very cool, I look forward to seeing the next release. I really like the direction GF is heading. I filed an enhancement request for Adobe to officially support GF in the next release.