By now we are all familiar with the debate over open source software versus proprietary software. We understand both models for the most part. Open source means the source code of the program is free to modify but in the end money is still made on software via support for it or using community input to sell a better product. Proprietary software is the Microsoft Office or Mac OS operating system software we buy. The consumer has no direct input into the software but can obtain a certain level of free support for it.

However the debate continues as each camp tries to out-sell the other. From a Systems Integration point of view do you recommend JBoss or Websphere for a client solution?

It's easy to go with the open source solution if you are trying to under bid the competition. You can plug things into a Java based application server like Jboss. You can even modify the source code to get it to do exactly what you want. If the pre-built Jboss solution just won't do you can change it. You can stream line it to work flawlessly and you don't have to install all the bloat of a proprietary application. With proprietary software you are stuck with the solution given and if it doesn't work you are stuck.

It's easy to go with the proprietary software solution because included in the cost is support and the knowing that whatever software you are getting has gone through extension testing because the company is not relying on the user community to help improve their software. Also there is a team of people, employed full-time, working on the software. What you spend on development resources on the open source project including configuring the server and setting it up and developer time you save because all of that is already done for you for the most part.

It's easy to argue over one or the other when your knee deep in a problem related to a specific application server. Look at how successful a company like Google has been with an open source operating system like Linux. Or look at how successful Microsoft or Macintosh has been with their proprietary software. In the end the debate will continue because either camp will thankfully continue to make progress. It's not as simple as saying one if better than the other if you have the money, it all depends on the situation.