Difference between Liberty and WebSphere Application Server
WebSphere Application Server is made up of two application server runtime environments called profiles:
Traditional WAS (sometimes referred to as WebSphere Application Server “classic” or “full profile”) – The original architecture of WebSphere Application Server that started in 1998 with Servlet Express v1.0 and evolved into an industrial-strength Java EE container.
Liberty (sometimes called “WAS Liberty” or “Liberty profile”) – The next generation Java EE container architecture, introduced in WebSphere Application Server v8.5.0 in 2013, designed to be highly composable, to start faster, use less memory, and scale better.
Which WebSphere Application Server are you familiar with? When you’re using a WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment cell, each cluster member runs in an installation of traditional WAS. Even though Liberty is part of the WebSphere Application Server product, you may not have used it yet.
As you’ll see, Liberty’s runtime is very compact and lightweight, making it particularly well-suited for virtualized infrastructure and cloud computing, for lightweight containers, and also for devices in the Internet of Things.
Liberty is available packaged in several different platforms. As of this writing, they are:
Liberty profile – Part of WebSphere Application Server and available separately, for installation on an on-premise computer, including installing it locally on your laptop for development.
Liberty Docker images – The websphere-liberty images that run Liberty in Docker containers.
Bluemix instant runtime – The Liberty for Java runtime in Bluemix, built using the IBM WebSphere Application Server Liberty Buildpack for Cloud Foundry.
Bluemix container – The IBM Liberty Image (ibmliberty), the websphere-liberty image optimized for running in Bluemix.
For a given version of Liberty (such as v22.214.171.124), each of these installs provides equivalent, nearly identical functionality. The main difference is that the buildpack does not include Liberty features that are not used in a cloud environment.
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It’s an exciting time to be a developer, isn’t it? There has never been so many choices in programming models, cloud services and frameworks. Providing choice to developers in an open community is core to what we do at IBM – and have been doing for quite some time. We recently open-sourced versions of our WebSphere Liberty Java app server, Open Liberty, and Java Virtual Machine, OpenJ9. IBM has been a strong supporter of the Eclipse MicroProfile Community to promote microservices in Java.