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Recommended Host for Tomcat JSP
What Is Tomcat JSP Hosting?
Apache Tomcat, informally referred to as Tomcat, is an open source web server and servlet container which implements multiple Java EE specifications, including JavaServer Pages (JSP). Technically, the name of Tomcat's JSP engine is Jasper and the current version is Jasper 2.0.
JSP was developed and released by Sun Microsystems in 1999 and it is not really a framework or a programming language, but more like facilitating technology to assist in the development of dynamic Web pages on HTML, XML and other document systems. JSP is similar to PHP, but as the name suggests it is based on Java. The latest official JSP release is 2.2 and Jasper 2.0 handles JSP 2.x versions.
Tomcat, or an alternative web server with a servlet container, is used to deploy JSP pages. Tomcat's servlet container is dubbed Catalina, while the connector component that supports the HTTP 1.1 is Coyote, which allows Tomcat to act as a plain web server for local files and HTTP documents.
Dynamic Web apps with a cup of Java
Tomcat provides management and configuration tools for developers, and it uses its JSP engine to create a pure Java environment in which Java code can run. Tomcat and JSP offer developers the ability to generate dynamic Web content without having to use a full applet.
This approach is supposed to save time and money. Since Tomcat is developed and maintained by the Apache Software Foundation, it is open-source and free of charge under Apache License 2.0.
Since 1999, Tomcat has gone through a number of major releases and the current stable version is 8.0.15. However, 7.0.x releases are still widely used.
Tomcat software and hardware requirements
Tomcat 7.x requires Java version 1.6 to run properly, unlike older releases that used Java 1.1 through 1.5. Tomcat 7.x also implements Servlet 3.0 and JSP 2.2 specifications.
The requirements actually have more to do with Oracle than Apache, since most of them revolve around Java support. This means Java requirements are the ones to look out for, but they vary depending on the version of Java and Tomcat you intend to use.
For example, Tomcat 6.0.x requires Servlet 2.5 and JSP 2.1, while Tomcat 8.0.x uses Servlet 3.1 and JSP 2.3. Upcoming Tomcat 9.0.x releases will be compatible with Servlet 4.0 and possibly JSP 2.4.
Tomcat hosting choices
Finding the right kind of hosting ultimately boils down to finding a host that can accommodate Java overall. This will mean at least a couple of things.
First, check to see whether the host offers cPanel, and ensure the mod_jk module is integrated into it. This will allow for JSP and servlet functionality to be enabled. Also, you should be able to deploy JSP and servlets via the cPanel. This is usually a given for cPanel, but it's always a good idea to confirm the function before making a purchase and opening an account.
Second, if you intend to use the latest available Tomcat releases, or even use unstable releases for testing and early stage development, you will need a host with a good track record of deploying the latest Java updates.
Remember, Tomcat is a tight niche
Although solid Java support is the most obvious prerequisite for Tomcat JSP hosting, you need to bear in mind that Tomcat hosting remains a relatively tight niche.
Tomcat is not a big money maker for big hosting companies, so they focus most of their effort on more marketable plans, such as those geared toward the millions of WordPress users.
Many big hosts lack specific Tomcat hosting plans, but at the same time this also means that smaller outfits see an opportunity in catering to the Tomcat community. These plans provide you with Tomcat out of the box, saving time and effort.
These hosts usually offer starter packages at symbolic prices, while more serious (and useful) plans come in a wide range of prices. This is understandable because Tomcat is extremely scalable, hence prices range from just a couple of dollars a month for entry-level VPS plans to pricey high-bandwidth plans with 4GB of RAM, ample SSD storage and powerful octa-core Xeon processors. Prices for these high-end plans can easily end up in triple digit territory.
The fact that many mainstream hosting companies don't tend to be involved in the Tomcat niche does not mean there are no good alternatives. On the contrary, a number of small companies specialise in this space and get good user ratings, so there is nothing to worry about.