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12 Best Application Server Software Shortlist

After a thorough evaluation, I've handpicked the 12 best application server software to address your challenges.

  1. CloudPages - Best for secure and streamlined cloud management
  2. Payara Server - Best for robust and efficient application deployment
  3. F5 NGINX - Best for high-performance load balancing and content caching
  4. WildFly - Best for a lightweight and flexible application server
  5. Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS) - Best for virtualization and application delivery
  6. LiteSpeed Web Server - Best for speed and built-in security features
  7. Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform - Best for scalable and manageable application development
  8. Plesk - Best for simplifying the management of web servers
  9. Apache Tomcat - Best for an open-source Java Servlet container
  10. Apache HTTP Server - Best for a reliable and extensible web server software
  11. IBM WebSphere Application Server - Best for optimized runtime for mission-critical applications
  12. IBM CICS - Best for transactional integrity and resource management

Understanding the complexity and the vital role of application server software in your business logic operations is key. This type of software serves as a platform that enables the creation, deployment, and execution of business applications. The benefits are immense, as it manages the application's operations and helps enhance performance, scalability, and security. I've evaluated various tools and selected the best application server software that can provide you with a reliable solution to these challenges.

What Is an Application Server Software?

Application server software acts as a middleware between the operating system and the applications running on a server. It provides a runtime environment to execute, deploy, and manage business applications. Companies and developers use this software to improve the scalability, security, and performance of web, enterprise, and mobile applications.

It offers various functionalities like data storage and application management, supports PHP and content delivery, and stores website component data, such as HTML documents, JavaScript files, CSS stylesheets, and images, allowing interaction between software components and the underlying hardware. Businesses of all sizes across industries rely on application server software to manage the complexities of their applications and to streamline the workflow.

Overviews of the 12 Best Application Server Software

1. CloudPages - Best for secure and streamlined cloud management

Cloudpages server dashboard
Here's a screenshot of the Cloudpages server dashboard.

CloudPages serves as a comprehensive platform to manage your cloud applications and infrastructure. Its focus on security and ease of management makes it ideal for businesses seeking streamlined cloud management solutions.

Why I Picked CloudPages:

I chose CloudPages for its straightforward yet robust, features that make managing complex cloud-native environments simpler. It's different because it combines both security and management in one package.

It stands out as best for secure and streamlined cloud management due to its multiple layers of security protocols and simplified administration interfaces.

Standout Features & Integrations:

CloudPages offers real-time monitoring of cloud infrastructure and applications, ensuring you always have a pulse on performance and security. Another significant feature is its ability to integrate with various Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions, further enhancing security.
Important integrations include support for AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, allowing businesses to manage multiple cloud services within a single interface.


From $10/user/month (min 5 seats)


  • Comprehensive security features
  • Robust real-time monitoring capabilities
  • Multi-cloud support


  • Slightly higher entry-level pricing
  • Limited customization options
  • Requires a minimum number of seats to start

2. Payara Server - Best for robust and efficient application deployment

Admin panel in Payara Server application server software
Here's the admin panel in Payara Server, which allows you to create a data source.

Payara Server is designed to simplify deploying and managing Java-based applications. Its emphasis on efficiency and robustness positions it as a top choice for companies needing a reliable application deployment solution.

Why I Picked Payara Server:

I selected Payara Server for its emphasis on reliability and its features that accelerate the deployment process. In comparing various options, the Payara Server emerged as a standout for its robustness in managing high-load applications and quick deployment capabilities.

That's why it's best for those needing robust and efficient application deployment.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Payara Server offers auto-clustering for improved fault tolerance and availability. It also comes with built-in monitoring and diagnostics to keep an eye on your applications' performance.
For integrations, Payara Server is fully compatible with Eclipse, NetBeans, and IntelliJ, which are some of the most commonly used IDEs for Java development.


From $5/user/month (billed annually)


  • Strong support for Java-based applications
  • Built-in monitoring and diagnostic tools
  • Auto-clustering for fault tolerance


  • Limited to Java environments
  • Billed annually, not monthly
  • Less suitable for smaller projects due to its robust features

3. F5 NGINX - Best for high-performance load balancing and content caching

F5 NGINX controller feature
Here's the NGINX controller feature, which provides a GUI to centrally manage and monitor NGINX Plus.

F5 NGINX is renowned for its load balancing and content caching capabilities, providing an environment for applications to run smoothly and efficiently. Its high-performance architecture makes it particularly adept at handling and distributing heavy traffic optimally.

Why I Picked F5 NGINX:

I chose F5 NGINX because of its industry-leading load balancing, content caching performance load balancing, and content caching. When determining which server software would cut, NGINX emerged as a clear leader, notably for its specialized features in distributing application load and caching content. That makes it best for organizations looking for a solution focused on these two critical attributes.

Standout Features & Integrations:

F5 NGINX offers robust load-balancing algorithms and an efficient caching system that significantly reduces the latency of application services. Another highlight is its customizable configuration files that give you complete control over its behavior.

For integrations, it pairs well with various monitoring tools like Grafana and data storage options like MySQL, enhancing its utility across different application environments.


From $12/user/month (billed annually)


  • Specialized in load balancing and caching
  • Highly customizable configurations
  • Supports a wide range of integrations


  • More suited for large-scale operations
  • Billed annually, not monthly
  • Requires some expertise for optimal setup

4. WildFly - Best for a lightweight and flexible application server

Monitoring feature in WildFly's management console
Here's the monitoring feature in WildFly's management console.

WildFly specializes in being a lightweight yet highly flexible application server built for enterprises seeking agility in their application management. Its lighter architecture aligns perfectly with those looking for flexibility without the added bulk.

Why I Picked WildFly:

I chose WildFly for its ability to offer both lightweight and flexible server solutions. When judging the multitude of options, WildFly caught my attention because it provides an ideal balance between agility and functionality. This makes it best for those in need of a server that is both adaptable and easy to manage.

Standout Features & Integrations:

WildFly stands out for its modular approach, which enables rapid deployment and decreased start-up time. It also offers a high level of configurational detail, allowing for greater control over server behavior.

For integrations, WildFly is compatible with various databases like PostgreSQL and MariaDB, and it supports RESTful APIs, making it easier to integrate with modern web applications.


From $10/user/month (min 5 seats)


  • Lightweight and easy to deploy
  • High level of configurational flexibility
  • Wide range of database and API integrations


  • Requires a minimum of 5 seats
  • Learning curve for those unfamiliar with its modular design
  • Limited support for legacy systems

5. Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS) - Best for virtualization and application delivery

Farm configuration scenario in Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS) application server software
Here's a screenshot of the farm configuration scenario in Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS).

Parallels RAS excels in virtualization, providing robust application delivery solutions. It caters to enterprises that require efficient and streamlined application virtualization, aligning well with high-performance virtualization and application delivery requirements.

Why I Picked Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS):

After carefully comparing options, I chose Parallels RAS because it integrates virtualization and application delivery effectively, making it efficient for companies to prioritize both. This aligns with the need for virtualization and application delivery, making it unique.

Standout Features & Integrations:

The software offers client management features, such as centralized client management and auto-configurations, which help streamline virtual environments. Additionally, it provides load balancing and universal printing features that enhance its utility in virtualized settings.

For integrations, Parallels RAS syncs with Windows Servers, including their latest versions, and supports HTML5, allowing for broad compatibility with web pages and applications.


From $15/user/month (min 10 seats, billed annually)


  • Integrated approach to virtualization and application delivery
  • Extensive client management features
  • Broad compatibility with Windows Servers and HTML5


  • Requires a minimum of 10 seats
  • Annual billing can be a hurdle for smaller organizations
  • Could be complex for users without experience in virtualized environments

6. LiteSpeed Web Server - Best for speed and built-in security features

Real-time statistics feature in LiteSpeed Web Server software
Here's the real-time statistics feature in LiteSpeed Web Server.

LiteSpeed Web Server is a high-performance HTTP server known for its fast automation processing capabilities and built-in security measures. These features make it an attractive solution for businesses requiring swift web performance without compromising security.

Why I Picked LiteSpeed Web Server:

I chose LiteSpeed Web Server after examining various alternatives for two key reasons: its focus on speed and integrated security features. In comparison to other web servers, LiteSpeed stands out for combining these two critical elements effectively. Therefore, it aligns well with businesses prioritizing speed and security.

Standout Features & Integrations:

LiteSpeed Web Server is renowned for its event-driven architecture that minimizes memory and CPU usage, resulting in speedy processing. It also comes with built-in anti-DDoS features that add a layer of security.

In terms of integrations, the server is compatible with commonly used web applications like WordPress and Magento, and it can replace Apache without requiring any major changes, offering a smoother transition for businesses.


From $14/user/month (billed annually)


  • High-performance event-driven architecture
  • Built-in anti-DDoS and security features
  • Easy transition from Apache due to compatibility


  • Pricing is based on an annual billing cycle
  • May require some learning curve for those not familiar with its features
  • Some advanced features may be overkill for small websites

7. Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform - Best for scalable and manageable application development

Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform application server software revamped admin console
Screenshot of the Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform revamped admin console.

Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) is an open-source platform for scalable and manageable enterprise application development. It is particularly adept at handling complex, large-scale applications that require superior management capabilities.

Why I Picked Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform:

I chose Red Hat JBoss EAP after carefully weighing its merits against other platforms in the same category. Its combination of scalability and manageability makes it stand out, which is essential for complex, enterprise-level application development. These features place it as the best fit for scalable and manageable application development.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Red Hat JBoss EAP offers a modular architecture that allows for greater flexibility and efficiency. It supports multiple Java EE standards, giving developers a wide array of tools for application development.

For integrations, Red Hat JBoss EAP works well with other Red Hat products like Red Hat Fuse and Red Hat Data Grid, but it is also compatible with many databases and messaging services, including PostgreSQL and ActiveMQ.


From $400/user/month (billed annually, min 16 seats)


  • Offers modular architecture for flexible, efficient development
  • Supports multiple Java EE standards
  • Compatible with a wide range of databases and messaging services


  • High starting price point and minimum seat requirement
  • May be too complex for small to medium businesses
  • Limited benefits if not integrated with other Red Hat products

8. Plesk - Best for simplifying the management of web servers

Advanced monitoring view in Plesk application server software
Here's the advanced monitoring view in Plesk.

Plesk simplifies web server management for hosting service providers and website administrators. It streamlines tasks like website setup, email management, and server maintenance, making them more manageable.

Why I Picked Plesk:

I selected Plesk for this list after evaluating various tools for server management. What sets it apart is its user-friendly interface and a wide range of functionalities, making it particularly accessible for those who may not have advanced technical skills. For these reasons, Plesk emerges as the top tool for simplifying the management of web servers.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Plesk has a comprehensive set of features covering domain management, email handling, and security measures like SSL certificate management. It also offers built-in WordPress management, providing a convenient way to manage multiple WordPress instances.

Regarding integrations, Plesk supports various popular web servers like Apache and Nginx, and it can integrate with databases such as MySQL and MariaDB, adding to its versatility.


From $10/user/month (billed annually)


  • User-friendly interface that makes server management accessible
  • Comprehensive set of features for domain, email, and security management
  • Supports integration with a variety of web servers and databases


  • Billed annually, making initial investment higher
  • Some features may require purchasing additional extensions
  • Advanced customization may be limited for specialized needs

9. Apache Tomcat - Best for an open-source Java Servlet container

Apache Tomcat application server software interface
Here's an image of the manager application feature in Apache Tomcat.

Apache Tomcat is stable, open-source, and has strong community support, making it easy to customize and integrate with other tools. Its reputation and popularity in the industry make it a reliable choice, solidifying my belief that it's the best open-source Java Servlet container.

Why I Picked Apache Tomcat:

After evaluating multiple tools for executing Java applications, I picked Apache Tomcat due to its stability, community support, and open-source, which allows for customization and integration with other tools. Its widespread usage and recognition in the industry make it stand out as a reliable choice. This substantiates my belief that it is the best choice for an open-source Java Servlet container.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Apache Tomcat provides essential features for executing Java applications, including a robust HTTP server, Java servlet container, and JSP engine. It also supports Websockets, JNDI, JAAS, and JMX. Tomcat can be integrated with the Apache HTTP Server and various databases, making it easier to use within existing infrastructures.


Free (Open-source)


  • Open-source, which allows for customization and integration with other tools.
  • Robust community support and widespread usage in the industry.
  • Provides essential features for executing Java applications, including HTTP server, Java servlet container, and JSP engine.


  • Requires some technical knowledge for configuration and customization.
  • May not have all the features provided by commercial servers.
  • Performance may not be as optimized as some commercial alternatives.

10. Apache HTTP Server - Best for a reliable and extensible web server software

Apache HTTP Server application server software interface
Here's a screenshot of the Apache HTTP Server's webpage.

Apache HTTP Server is an open-source web server software that hosts websites and web applications. Known for its reliability and extensibility, it serves as the foundation for many web services, reinforcing why it's the best choice for reliable and extensible web server software.

Why I Picked Apache HTTP Server:

After thoroughly comparing various web server options, I selected Apache HTTP Server for its proven reliability and the extensibility it offers through a wide range of modules. Its open-source nature and extensive community support make it a stand-out choice for web server needs.

It aligns well with the criteria of being reliable and extensible, which are critical for a web server.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Apache HTTP Server provides a wealth of features including customizable error messages, authentication configurations, and URL redirection. It also allows for the integration of various modules for added functionality like security and caching.

The server is compatible with a wide range of operating systems and can be integrated with various databases and scripting languages, making it versatile for many web development scenarios.


Free (Open-source)


  • Open-source, allowing for extensive customization and community-driven updates.
  • High reliability backed by a long history and community support.
  • Extensible through a wide variety of modules.


  • Can be complex to configure for beginners.
  • Potential performance issues under high load if not properly optimized.
  • Not as streamlined for certain tasks as some specialized servers might be.

11. IBM WebSphere Application Server - Best for optimized runtime for mission-critical applications

IBM WebSphere application server software interface
Here's the global security screen in IBM WebSphere Application Server, which allows you to configure application security.

IBM WebSphere Application Server is a platform for hosting web-based applications, focusing on providing a robust and optimized runtime environment. Given its commitment to stability and performance, it is particularly well-suited for mission-critical applications requiring an optimized runtime environment for smooth operations.

Why I Picked IBM WebSphere Application Server:

After judging various platforms for running web applications, I chose IBM WebSphere Application Server for its specialized focus on delivering an optimized runtime environment. Its ability to handle mission-critical applications stably and efficiently sets it apart from other options. This makes it the best choice for the specialized use-case of hosting mission-critical applications that demand an optimized runtime.

Standout Features & Integrations:

IBM WebSphere Application Server offers robust security features, including custom user registries and single sign-on capabilities. The platform integrates well with IBM's cloud solutions, and various databases and supports multiple programming languages, providing a versatile application environment.


From $55/user/month (billed annually)


  • Specializes in delivering an optimized runtime environment.
  • Offers robust security features for mission-critical applications.
  • Versatile in terms of integrations and programming language support.


  • Pricing can be prohibitive for smaller operations.
  • Complexity of features may require a steep learning curve.
  • Limited cost-effectiveness for simpler web application needs.

12. IBM CICS - Best for transactional integrity and resource management

IBM CICS application server software interface
Here's the IBM CICS configuration manager feature.

IBM CICS (Customer Information Control System) is a transaction server that offers capabilities for efficiently managing multiple types of transactions. Given its robust features around transactional integrity and resource management.

Why I Picked IBM CICS:

After comparing and judging different transaction servers, I picked IBM CICS for its unswerving focus on transactional integrity and effective resource management. These characteristics distinguish it from other tools and make it particularly well-suited for businesses with stringent transaction handling and resource allocation requirements.

Standout Features & Integrations:

IBM CICS offers a mixed-language environment, supporting everything from COBOL to Java, allowing versatile application development. It also provides dynamic transaction routing and workload balancing, crucial for businesses dealing with high-volume transactions.

The server seamlessly integrates with IBM's Z/OS and Db2, offering the added advantage of easy compatibility with IBM's ecosystem, and also integrates well with distributed databases.


From $145/user/month (billed annually) + $350 base fee per month


  • Focused on transactional integrity and resource management.
  • Supports a mixed-language environment for versatile application development.
  • Offers easy compatibility with IBM’s ecosystem.


  • Pricing could be a barrier for smaller companies.
  • The focus on IBM’s ecosystem may limit integration with non-IBM products.
  • Requires specialized expertise for setup and maintenance.

Other Noteworthy Application Server Software

Below is a list of additional legal practice management software that I shortlisted, but did not make it to the top 12. These are definitely worth checking out.

  1. Oracle WebLogic - Good for enterprise-level Java applications
  2. ServerAvatar - Good for simplified WordPress hosting management
  3. Payara Server - Good for businesses needing microservices support
  4. Apache Traffic Server - Good for high-volume caching and proxying
  5. Undertow - Good for lightweight, embeddable web servers
  6. NGINX - Good for load balancing and reverse proxy capabilities
  7. Apache Geronimo - Good for businesses requiring flexible licensing
  8. Resin - Good for real-time web applications
  9. Lighttpd - Good for memory-efficient web serving
  10. GlassFish - Good for Java EE compatibility
  11. Tornado Web Server - Good for handling long-lived network connections

Selection Criteria for Choosing Application Server Software

In my extensive experience with web server and application server software, the criteria for selection can be a deciding factor for the success of your projects. I've tested each of these tools, focusing my attention on several key areas that are essential when making an informed choice for web apps. These are the criteria I used to evaluate the various options on my list.

Core Functionality

  • Data Handling: The tool should efficiently manage data flow between the user's device and server.
  • Security: SSL/TLS support and other security features are non-negotiable.
  • Load Balancing: The software should distribute incoming network or application traffic across multiple servers.
  • Resource Management: Efficient use of CPU, memory, and disk systems.

Key Features

  • Customization: The tool should offer a high degree of customization for your specific use case.
  • Caching Capabilities: Effective caching can reduce server load and improve response times.
  • Logging and Monitoring: Real-time metrics and analytics for debugging and tracking performance.
  • Compatibility: This should be compatible with the technologies you already use, databases like Microsoft, Microsoft IIS, Python, Linux, programming languages, or third-party services.
  • Microservices Support: Essential for modern, scalable applications.


  • User Interface: Given the complexity associated with server management, the tool should offer an intuitive dashboard where all vital metrics and controls are easily accessible.
  • Onboarding Experience: The software should offer documentation, tutorials, or even built-in wizards to guide new users through setup.
  • Customer Support: Support channels like live chat, email, and phone, as well as a comprehensive knowledge base, can be a lifeline when issues arise.
  • Role-Based Access: It is essential for teams to assign and restrict system access based on roles within the organization.

These are the key criteria that I consider most important, and they are what I base my list on. Each tool on my list excels in these areas but may serve different niches or specific use cases better than others.

Most Common Questions Regarding Application Server Software

What are the benefits of using application server software?

Using application server software can significantly improve your IT infrastructure in several ways:

  1. Resource Management: Efficiently utilizes CPU, memory, and disk space.
  2. Scalability: This enables you to easily scale your applications to meet growing demand.
  3. Security: Built-in security features like SSL/TLS support to safeguard your data.
  4. Monitoring and Logging: Provides essential data for troubleshooting, performance tracking, and security audits.
  5. Integration: Easily integrates with databases, web application servers, and other third-party services to create a unified ecosystem.

How much do these tools typically cost?

The pricing models for application server software can vary widely. You'll find options ranging from free, open-source versions to enterprise-level solutions costing thousands of dollars per year. Pricing may be based on factors like the number of users, the number of cores, or the level of technical support.

What are the common pricing models for application server software?

Common pricing models include:

  1. Per User: Charging based on the number of users who will access the server.
  2. Per Core: Based on the number of CPU cores in your server.
  3. Freemium: Offers basic services for free while charging for premium features.
  4. Subscription: Monthly or annual fees that typically include updates and support.

What's the typical range of pricing for these tools?

The pricing range is quite vast. You can start with free, open-source options and go up to premium solutions that cost thousands of dollars annually. Generally, you can pay anywhere from $10/user/month to $100/user/month for mid-tier solutions.

What's the cheapest application server software?

Open-source options like Apache Tomcat and GlassFish are free, but you might incur costs for optional technical support or additional features.

What's the most expensive application server software?

Enterprise-level solutions like IBM WebSphere and Oracle WebLogic Server can be the most expensive, costing thousands of dollars per year depending on your configuration and support needs.

Are there any free tool options?

Yes, there are free options available, particularly in the open-source realm. Tools like Apache Tomcat, GlassFish, and Payara Server offer community editions that are free to use. Remember that while the software is free, you might need to invest in training or third-party support.

How do I choose the best application server software for my needs?

Several criteria, including core functionality, key features, and usability should guide your choice. It’s important to consider your specific needs, such as the programming languages you're using, the level of security required, and your budget. Always opt for a solution that aligns closely with your technical requirements and operational constraints.

Other Application Server Software Reviews


Choosing the right application server software can be a critical decision that impacts your operations, scalability, and overall IT ecosystem. This buyer's guide aims to provide you with the necessary information to make an informed choice, covering essential criteria such as core functionality, key features, and usability and answering frequently asked questions about benefits and pricing.

Key Takeaways

  1. Define your needs: Before diving into options, clearly define what you require from an application server. Consider factors like programming languages, scalability requirements, and security features.
  2. Consider pricing models: Different tools come with different pricing models. Whether per user, core, or a freemium model, choose one that aligns with your budget and functional requirements.
  3. Evaluate usability: The interface and overall design of the software can affect your team's productivity. Look for features that make the software intuitive, such as clear dashboard layouts and easy-to-configure settings.

What Do You Think?

I've done my best to compile a comprehensive list of the top application server software options, but the tech landscape is vast and ever-changing. If you think I've missed a standout tool that deserves a spot on this list, I invite you to share your suggestions. Your input can help us make this resource even more valuable for everyone.

By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.