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SAP WAS vs IBM Websphere

Introduction :-

In our company Wipro, we were involved in doing a project proposal which involves comparitive study of SAP WAS with IBM Websphere. So I thought of sharing to the SDN community members about relative merits of WAS over Websphere. The blog has an informative approach of analyzing important characteristics parameters which is essential for an web application server. I am sure that you will find this blog surely useful.

Application Server Comparison – SAP WAS vs. IBM Websphere



Feature Description

SAP WAS 6.40

IBM Websphere 5.1

Java programming model


J2EE Supported version

Full support to J2EE 1.4

J2EE 1.3


Full XML Support



Other Programming   languages support


Support for other languages

Yes. Full support for ABAP

Not available

Web Services


Full Web Services Support




Support for private UDDI registries



Database Support


JDBC for access to Databases supported

Supports all popular RDBMS databases if appropriate drivers are available. Shipped with MaxDB ,DB from SAP.

DB is a part of kernel

DB2,SQL Server 2000, Oracle 9i, Informix, Sybase


DB is not a part of kernel


Connection Pooling

Yes. Taken care through Visual Administrator


Application development/Testing


Ease of Development

Yes. Sample applications included. Bundled with Eclipse an IDE for application development and deployment.

Built in JDI (Java Development Infrastructure) components as DTR(Design Time repository), CBS(Component Build Server) and Build tool are available for better application development.

Quick starter kits bundled


Support for change management

Built in CMS available

Integration to third party Source Safe tool available.


Support to Testing tools

Inbuilt unit testing methodologies like ATS, JLin, e-CATT. Testing guidelines provided



Debugging support




Support for life cycle management

Yes. Integration with Solution Manager.

Not available


Interoperability with SAP NetWeaver solution products

Yes. In fact, all the SAP NetWeaver products like XI, MI, BI etc run on WAS

Not applicable

Web server support


HTTP Server




Web server plug ins





Basic Authentication and Authorization




Support for JAAS for enhanced security




SSO support



Platform Support


Platforms supported

Microsoft Windows(2000,NT,XP), Linux, IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, HP-UX.

Microsoft Windows(2000,2003,XP), Linux, OS/400,IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, HP-UX and UNIX

Application connectivity


JMS Support with MDB




JNDI support



Performance support


Support for integration with third-party tools



Administration and workload management


Browser based administration for remote administration across firewalls

Yes. Visual Administrator is used.



Clustering support

Yes. Taken care through Visual Administrator and Enqueue Server.

No. Available in network deployment version 5.1


Offline Server Configuration support

Yes. GUI based Config tool is provided

Not available



Server Log viewer

Available as a monitoring tool with search facility

Through log files.


Support to third party plug ins







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  • Don’t confuse the Java run-time with the J2EE specification — WAS 6.40 runs on J2SE 1.4 and supports J2EE 1.3, not J2EE 1.4, same as Websphere 5.
  • This was a really interesting comparison.  I’ve been reviewing 6.40 for the last couple of weeks, and I thought your comparison matrix was really interesting.  Here are some comments which I would expect you covered in detail but maybe didn’t summarize:

    I believe Alon and Arul are correct, although WebSphere 5.1.1 appears to have embraced more J2EE 1.4.x functionality than perhaps 5.1 had.

    Your support for programming languages metric was a bit odd – WebSphere Application Server is a Java application server.  SAP’s Web Application Server is a Java and ABAP application server.  That said, SAP’s Software Deployment Manager (part of 6.40) uses SDAs and SCAs instead of EARs, WARs, and JARs.  So is SAP Web Application Server really a Java server?  Or does it just leverage a JVM runtime?  There did not seem to be any good reason for deviating from EAR, WAR, and JAR formats.

    Support for private UDDI registries is provided by WebSphere Business Integration Server which is built on top of WebSphere Application Server.  SOA is considered a separate node in the enterprise within IBM’s architecture model.

    With WebSphere Application Server, the DB is **definitely** not a part of kernel.  After dealing with the support and functionality problems database dependency caused up to version 4.x of WebSphere Application Server – it was a huge step forward for IBM to shift to XML and other config files for WebSphere Application Server.  In addition, and I’m not if sure you intended to imply this or not – bundling JDBC connectors into the kernel is not best practice for Java.  The flexibility to swap out JDBC drivers (for a given platform) or tune specific JDBC drivers based on behaviour is important in production environments.

    Under Ease of Development – you mention that 6.40 comes bundled with Eclipse.  More importantly, 6.40 comes bundled with numerous Eclipse plugins to support proprietary SAP libraries.  The Eclipse IDE is one of several open source projects focused on tools.  It is available separately and was largely sponsored and developed by IBM’s San Francisco project.  IBM’s commercial version is now known as Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software and was formerly known as WSAD.  It is sold separately because the WebSphere Application Server environment does not have any proprietary libraries except those provided with products like Portal Server in PDKs/SDKs, so any J2SE/J2EE IDE can be used for development.

    One of the things I found very disappointing with the SAP Web AS 6.40 Sneak Preview is that unless you have an SAP Instance to point it at, you cannot really do much work.  I don’t understand why the MiniWAS from 6.20 was not bundled in 6.40 – as with no MiniWAS or shared SAP instance development environment, a developer cannot really do much of anything with the 6.40 bundle.

    Support for Change Management is also a bit of a misnomer.  If you are using Eclipse or WSAD, you can configure your IDE to work with any number of code repositories (SourceSafe, PVCS, CVS, etc.).  More importantly though, SAP has an evolved change management process which is realised (though I cannot find it) in 6.40 tools.  WebSphere Application Server has no implementation – you must bolt on both process and repository with WSAD.  This will supposedly change with the Rational tools – since there is a Rational Process, it uses ClearCase for the repository, and it may include deployment management.  I’ve not had a chance to work with that new tool yet – so I cannot confirm it’s capabilities or limits.

    Testing within WebSphere Application Server is limited to fairly rudimentary stepping through code in a runtime environment for debugging.  You can plug in JUnit and other java standard testing tools, but when working with large scale Java projects and products built on top of WebSphere Application Server (for example, Portal Server) this has been a difficulty.  I’d be curious how SAP handles this differently – as methodologies are not automated tools, and most of the SAP automated tools seem to have a blind spot when it comes to things outside of the core.

    The interoperability metric is also interesting.  SAP seems to be putting a lot of emphasis on NetWeaver, but it only works on SAP Web Application Server.  If it is a Java application, then why isn’t it portable to WebSphere or BEA or other Java environments?

    Clustering support for WebSphere Application Server 5.1 is an add-on with the Network Deployment version (in other words you take existing WebSphere Application Servers and apply the Network Deployment piece to form a group or cell).  This is similar to how BEA handles servers as stand alone unless you deploy an Administration server and demote the stand alone servers to Managed servers.  This is all managed from the Console web application as necessary.  I am under the impression that this is only a separate product because licensing and fees apply.

    Having looked at the SAP 6.40 ConfigTool – my impression is that the XML and text config files for WebSphere Application Server provide the same level of management.  Also, the WebSphere Application Server Admin Console can be operating when the outward facing applications are not running.  In terms of a nice GUI to manage a completely stopped server’s config, you are correct – I don’t think IBM offers something like that.

    For a while IBM marketed a tool for consolidating and viewing all logs created in the enterprise environment – including WebSphere Application Server.  I’m not sure it is a current product, and it was a much more script oriented tool than a WYSIWYG dashboard.  In general, log management is a significant issue in Java environments – so I’m glad it made your list.

    • Hi Joe,

      In your post you questioned the movement away from the standard ear, war, and jar file types that you would normally deploy in a J2EE engine.  The answer lies in the change management features provided by the WebAS.  The standard file types still exist, but they are packaged in the sda files (which I believe stands for software deployment archive).  The tooling that we have here goes far beyond simple source code management, and into the area of managing multiple productive versions. 

      Cheers and keep up the good posts,


    • You mentioned the issue that Web AS can’t run on other java-based application server.
      I think it’s because NetWeaver is not a pure java solution. But it fully supports java standard. In other word, NetWeaver can’t run on pure java applciation server, but java applications can run on it.