Tomcat vs JBoss – What’s the Difference? (Pros and Cons)

Tomcat vs JBoss – What’s the Difference? (Pros and Cons). Red Hat’s JBoss Enterprise Application and Apache Tomcat platforms are two of the most extensively used Java application servers. Both the servers are capable of administering development and production. But how do you know which one is right for you?

Several factors must be considered in a Tomcat vs JBoss comparison, including tooling, licensing, functionality, community support and the several Java APIs in use. The key differentiating factor between Tomcat and JBoss is that Tomcat is a servlet container and a web server, whereas JBoss is an application server.

This article discusses the differences between the servers, including their pros and cons. However, before we delve into the detail, let us know Tomcat and JBoss servers individually.

Let’s start with Tomcat vs JBoss – What’s the Difference? (Pros and Cons).

What is Tomcat?

Developed by Apache Software Foundation, Tomcat is a servlet container and an open source web server for Java code. It can run Java Server Pages(JSP) and servlets, providing a pure Java web server environment to run Java based applications. The Tomcat contains tools for management and configuration. To configure directly, you need to edit XML configuration files.

Besides Apache Tomcat can run on various operating systems since it is cross platform software. The software has been enhanced with extra features. Provides scalability, garbage collection, and JSP parsing. Initially started as a servlet reference implementation at Sun Micro Systems but was later made open source by giving the rights to Apache Software Foundation. Moreover Tomcat is a tool for automating the build process.

Many companies use Tomcat as it implements many Java EE specifications such as:

  • Java Servlet.
  • JavaServer Pages.
  • Java Expression Language.
  • Java WebSockets.

It, however, has some limitations. Tomcat does not support JMS and EJB. What is more Apache Tomcat 10.0.x is the current release at the time of this writing. It is the first Tomcat release to support JavaServer Pages 3.0, Java Servlet 5.0, Java Expression Language 4.0, Java WebSocket 2.0 and Authentication 2.0 specifications.

Features of Tomcat

  • Free and open source software. So anyone can use and modify Tomcat core files for developing applications.
  • Simple and lightweight. Means it gives you fast processing power to run the application smoothly.
  • Stable and Flexible. Means you can customize the application as per your requirements.
  • Provides an extra level of security to the user. This will secure the application from extrernal threats.
  • In addition Tomcat is well documented that provides very useful information to the developer and user who wants to learn the Tomcat application development.

Pros of Tomcat

  • Web application deployment is a matter of point and click via Tomcat manager or SSH command line
  • Support for all modern security standards and implementations.
  • Makes deployment management much easier and facilitate microservices.
  • Easy replication across multiple dispersed installations.
  • The most valuable feature is the free EE server.

Cons of Tomcat

  • It is only a servlet container and does not support full Java EE application stack.
  • Tomcat’s support for clustering is very limited.
  • Administration and configuration are not intuitive.
  • Default logging and log rotation capabilities need more improvement.
  • Consequently Tomcat’s management console is underutilized. The introduction of a mobile manager option will be a plus
  • The interface is not user friendly.
  • Technical support is limited.

What is JBoss?

JBoss is a segment of Red Hat that supports the WildFly open source application server program (also known as JBoss AS) and middleware services. It is an open source alternative to commercial offerings from SAP NetWeaver and IBM WebSphere.

Another key point is that JBoss is fairly generic. Earlier it was used to reference a community open source project called “JBoss,” developed by JBoss Inc., which Red Hat later took over in 2006. Developers describe JBoss as an open source Java EE based application server. It is an application platform for hosting your apps that allows an innovative modular, powerful management and automation, cloud ready architecture, and world class developer productivity.

Equally important is that JBoss provides a complete Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) stack, including Enterprise JavaBeans and other useful technologies for developers working on enterprise Java applications. Being an application server, it deploys EARs – EARs which are a combination of both WARs and JARs.

For this purpose JBoss is the perfect choice for applications where developers require complete access to Java Enterprise Edition’s functionality and are content with the default implementations of that functionality that ship with it.

In continuation to this post, we will add our two cents to the debate on clarifying Tomcat vs JBoss difference and expectantly assist readers in making a prudent decision about which server to choose for their project.

Features of JBoss

  • Offers updated management console user interface with intuitive navigation.
  • Support for large scale domain configurations.
  • Supports Java EE and Web Services standards.
  • Lightweight and flexible architecture.
  • Support for Jakarta EE and a wide range of Jakarta EE web based frameworks.
  • Flexible management, configuration, and administration.
  • Flexible, and future friendly subscription model.

Pros of JBoss

  • Support for Java EE.
  • Ease of server administration and configuration management.
  • Reduction of DevOps resource requirements and support for rapid scalability.
  • Ability to run both in standalone and domain modes.
  • The solution is easy to use.
  • It being a Java based product is pretty straightforward. Easy to use from a developer’s perspective. Also reliable and scalable.
  • Easy to manage since you can deploy the applications on the JBoss server. It is also easy to add new certificates to the config.
  • The most valuable feature of JBoss is the UI.

Cons of JBoss

  • It is slow. Increasing speed will make it better.
  • Pricing for cloud options can be expensive. Need more flexibility.
  • Current user interface need more improvement.
  • Needs to support the Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi).
  • The solution could improve by providing more integration.
  • Initial setup is challenging.
  • Can do with automation features as everybody is focused on automation.

Tomcat vs JBoss - What are the Differences?

Tomcat vs JBoss - API support


Compared to JBoss, Tomcat is just a servlet engine. The main focus is to allow the implementation of the JSP and servlet specification. Secondly Tomcat supports other complementary APIs, such as the Java Authentication Service Provider Interface for containers, WebSockets, and the expression language API.

What’s more, Tomcat is Java EE web profile compliant. It does not have the inherent support for several useful enterprise development APIs like Java Transaction API, CDI, JavaServer Faces (JSF), Hibernate, and JPA. However, JBoss has existing support for all of these APIs.

Having said that, extending support for APIs like JSF and CDI to Tomcat is possible by integrating projects like Mojarra and Weld. A separate Apache project called TomEE provides this support, but the basic Tomcat does not.


The most important difference in a Tomcat vs JBoss comparison is that JBoss is a certified Java EE compliant application server. Offers support for Java Server Page (JSP) and Servlet specification. In addition it also supports Contexts and Dependency Injection (CDI), JAX RS web services, JavaMail, Java Message Service and Java Naming and Directory Interface.

Tomcat vs JBoss - Licensing

Tomcat and JBoss have different licensing models. This is another notable difference between the two servers.


On one hand Tomcat is a part of Apache’s license. It lets users modify or distribute the software without restrictions. The Apache license is not viral or copyleft.

Another important difference between Tomcat and JBoss is that Red Hat allows paid vendor support for its EAP offering. However, Apache Software does not allow paid support for its products. Hence production issues with the Tomcat instance will require third party vendor support.


On the other hand JBoss uses a copyleft license. It uses the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). Teams using JBoss need to distribute derivatives of the LGPL software with the same license.

Moreover, while JBoss EAP is LGPL licensed and open source, JBoss Enterprise Middleware needs a support subscription. You will have to obtain a subscription if you need JBoss for production. However, developers can download JBoss EAP from the developer website at Red Hat for evaluation purposes.

One more thing JBoss is built on an open source project known as WildFly, which also has an LGPL license. Enterprises can use the unlicensed WildFly in production without the necessity to purchase a subscription from Red Hat.

Tomcat vs JBoss - Web Server


Although Red Hat has a product called JBoss web server, it is also a third party vendor for developers to reach out to in case of production support for Tomcat. So, the JBoss web server is actually Tomcat under the covers. Red Hat provides Tomcat support and extra modules beyond and above the base servlet container in Tomcat itself.


Sadly, there is a certain confusion with the JBoss web server with regard to JBoss EAP and Tomcat. Some developers think Tomcat is the web container inside JBoss EAP, which is not true. In reality, Undertow is the default web server used by both JBoss and WildFly and not Tomcat.

Tomcat vs JBoss - Additional Tools and Features


Here the Apache Tomcat mainly focuses on giving a bug free, standard implementation of the JSP API and Servlet. Allows a basic administrative console to manage applications, but the extent of its usage is limited in comparison to JBoss.


Since JBoss EAP is a revenue generating product for Red Hat, hence a variety of tools are bundled into the product for runtime management, server administration, and simplified configuration. JBoss offers a smart looking management console, feature rich command line tools, and several other utilities that integrate with DevOps tools like Puppet and Ansible.

Tomcat vs JBoss - The Fundamental Snapshot

Tomcat JBoss
Apache Software Foundation
Red Hat
Year of Inception
Apache License
LGPL v2.1
Servlet Engine
Enterprise Application Server (EAP)
Deployment Type
WAR Files
WAR and EAR Files
API Support
Servlet and JSP API
Fully Java EE Certified
Jetty, Undertow, Nginx
WebSphere, WebLogic

When to choose Tomcat over JBoss?

Finally Apache Tomcat is a good choice for developers who want a basic servlet and JSP engine with a highly permissive license but would not mind paying for vendor support. This server will suit your enterprise needs the best if this is your category.

When to choose JBoss over Tomcat?

There are two compelling reasons for choosing JBoss over Tomcat. First, the need for full Java EE support in the application server and second, the ability to obtain paid support from a vendor of repute. The various tools that give ease of use and provide integration with popular DevOps tools are also important reasons for making JBoss an effective choice over Tomcat. This server will suit your enterprise needs the best if this is your category.

Thank you for reading Tomcat vs JBoss – What’s the Difference? (Pros and Cons).

Tomcat vs JBoss – What’s the Difference? (Pros and Cons) Conclusion

The application server, web server and servlet container are some terms used in web application development. Both Tomcat and JBoss are used for deploying Java applications. The difference between Tomcat and JBoss is that Tomcat is a servlet container and a web server, while JBoss is an application server. You can use them according to the requirement. Tomcat is lightweight and does not support JMS and EJB, and JBoss is a full stack Java EE.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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