IBM i and Web Server Software Recommendations

April 6, 2016 Disaster Recovery Blog, Disaster Recovery News Blog, Legacy System Blog Articles
Web servers give a plethora of advantages to the companies that run them, from easier IT management and maintenance to mobile accessibility for end users and employees. While over 70% of IBM i users run a web server on their IBM i platform (a 2% increase from 2015), this number is anticipated to grow even more in the years to come. Now the question is: what web servers are companies trusting with their services?

The Stats

Cross-platform usability and the ability to develop applications that harness the accessibility and power of the World Wide Web – these are few of the many ways that web servers can be a much more affordable and efficient method of providing mobile access. While only 28.4% of users do not run a web server on IBM i, those that do were asked which server they run: Apache, Websphere, or TomCat. It’s not surprising that the most common choice was Apache, with 39.8% choosing this option. Following this was Websphere, with 23.7% of users running it on their IBM i. While 4.2% stated running a web server that was not listed, the smallest number of users (3.8%) use Apache TomCat.

RECOMMENDATION: IBM i can support both web interfaces and graphical interfaces, but users should consider web interfaces as the most effective option to strengthen their company in the years to come.

An Overview of the Servers


Apache (short for Apache HTTP Server; compare with Apache TomCat) is an open-source software that gives users the effectiveness and accessibility they need. This software is highly maintained, has an impressive amount of features, and is relatively limitless in what it can do. In contrast with Apache TomCat and IBM’s Websphere, this software is written in C, C++ and XML (as opposed to Java). This is the dominant web server software worldwide, estimated to run half of all websites (according to Netcraft).


Like Apache HTTP, Apache TomCat is also an open-source software developed to give users the cross-platform functionality and accessibility they require. However, TomCat differs from its Apache counterpart mainly because it is written in Java. This is the principal aspect that draws users to TomCat, as opposed to Apache HTTP: if you want to service Java servlets, TomCat is the software that can do this for you. TomCat is also serviced frequently to give users state-of-the-art features, such as high availability (HA) to allow upgrades and updates to occur without influencing the production environment.


The biggest distinguishing factor between Websphere and Apache HTTP and TomCat is that Websphere is an IBM product – in other words, it is not open source, and users must pay for it. While both types of Apache server are web servers, Websphere is actually an application server. This means that it is not limited to only HTTP, and can actually support all Java EE features. Plus, application servers can give dynamic content (such as servlets, EJBs, and JSPs), as opposed to the limited scop of static content for web servers (e.g. images, videos, and so on). Like TomCat, Websphere also runs Java. Websphere has the advantage of giving users a remarkable number of features, something that many users are completely willing to pay for.

Source: HelpSystems Survey

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