Java 17 Now GA for IBM i and WebSphere Gets Company
May 17, 2023 Alex Woodie
Java 17 is now available on IBM i, IBM announced last month, bringing the first major Java enhancement since Java 11 to the platform. The Java-based Web application server environment is also evolving on IBM i, as Big Blue adds more options besides WebSphere.
The long-expected introduction of Java 17 on IBM i is finally here, and was delivered as part of the recent IBM Technology Refresh (TR) cycle, which brought us IBM i 7.5 TR2 and 7.4 TR8. IBM is now supporting the latest 64-bit Java development kit (JDK), dubbed IBM Technology for Java 17, with its 5770JV1 product on those two TRs (older releases must use older Java versions).
Java 17, which was officially released by Oracle in September 2021, is the second long-term support release since Java 11 debuted back in September 2018. IBM, which has traditionally been conservative in its adoption of Java on IBM i, rolled out support for Java 11 back in April 2021.
For IBM i and other platforms, IBM uses a certified edition of the IBM Semeru, a free, production-ready set of Java binaries built with the OpenJDK class libraries and the Eclipse OpenJ9 JVM, according to IBM’s Semuru webpage. IBM i 7.4 and 7.5 customers have the option to run Java 17, Java 11, or Java 8.0, which are all 64 bits, or a 32-bit version of Java 8. For more Java information, see IBM’s Java on IBM i webpage.
Enhancements in Java 17 include new context-specific deserialization filters support, which bolsters security; restoration of always-strict floating point semantics; and a preview of pattern matching for switch statements, among other new features.
Last month’s TR announcement also brought news of more options for running Java application servers on IBM i.
Users who do not want to run IBM WebSphere have a number of options beyond Apache Tomcat, the longstanding open-source alternative to WebSphere. As IBM stated in its TR announcement, it has updated its Portable Application Solutions Environment for i (PASE for i) environment to support three other open source Java application servers, including Wildfly, Open Liberty, and Eclipse Jetty.
WildFly is an open source version of JBoss that’s actively developed by Red Hat, which acquired JBoss in June 2006 for $420 million (IBM of course acquired Red Hat for $34 billion in July 2019). The product is notable for its lightweight and aggressive memory management. IBM offers technical support packages for WildFly. There is also an upgrade path from WildFly to Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP).
Eclipse Jetty is a lightweight but full function Java Web server that originally started as an independent open source project in 1995. The software today is often used as a platform to serve applications developed atop other open source frameworks, such as Apache Spark, Maven, and Apache ActiveMQ. IBM also provides technical support packages for Jetty.
Open Liberty meanwhile is billed as an efficient application server for running cloud-native Java microservices. With its fast startup time, dev mode, and support for containerized deployments, Open Liberty is gaining a following among developers deploying microservices in the cloud. While it is an IBM-backed open source project, IBM does not offer a support package for running Open Liberty on IBM i.
For more information on these open source Java application servers, check out the IBM i OSS Docs webpage.
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