In prior entries, we’ve discussed Commercial JEE Application Server Support, the reasons this support is so costly, and began discussions focusing on the support differences between Tomcat and commercial JEE Application Servers. Now we’ll explore the three general types of Tomcat support that are available and dig into the most common choice, Community Support.
Tomcat Server Support Options
Tomcat users have three options available for support:
Community Support—The Apache Tomcat distribution is “supported” by the Tomcat community, on a volunteer basis. Repairs/enhancements are made (or accepted) by the Project Management Committee and committers (see below for details) on a best efforts basis, with no guarantees of either resolution or timeliness. Community support depends on the user doing some of the work, with the community providing expert advice.
Self Support—IT organizations can also support Tomcat themselves, by taking the source distribution, becoming sufficiently expert, and repairing/enhancing their copy of Tomcat. They may provide these back to the community if desired, and the community may accept the submissions if they decide that they meet broad customer needs and community technical standards. Self supporting organizations also can take advantage of the Tomcat community, although with the same limitations faced by the Community Support strategy. Self support does create the possibility of generating a branch in the Tomcat code, which may matter to some IT organizations.
Vendor Support—IT organizations can also purchase support from one of the Tomcat vendors, who already have the expertise and may already be active in the Apache community. In this case, the IT organization is outsourcing the Tomcat internals expertise, learning curve, community relationship activities, maintenance, test, and platform integration.
Vendor support for Tomcat is similar to commercial JEE application server support in several ways, including outsourcing much of the detailed expertise and depending on the vendor to meet responsiveness guarantees. The huge difference is choice, leading to far more cost effective solutions in a competitive marketplace.