Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, JP Morgenthal

Related Topics: Java IoT, IBM Cloud

Java IoT: Article

General Best Practices for WebSphere Application Environments

Twenty-five recommendations to setting up a WebSphere environment

This article provides a list of general best practices to apply to any WebSphere Application Server V7 and V8 environment. However, some of the recommendations only apply to specific conditions and scenarios. These recommendations could be used to set up any WebSphere environment.

General Best Practices for WebSphere Application Environments

1. All WebSphere Application processes should be running as non-admin/root user.
It's not a good practice to run a process as an admin/root user. For obvious reasons, you don't want more folks to know about the admin/root password and generally the WebSphere admins are not the system admins. Create a services user account on the box and use it for the WebSphere Application's start and stop purposes.

2. Enabled Global Security.
By default, the WebSphere Application Server enables administrative security. Thus, for the most part, the infrastructure provides for reasonable authentication, authorization, and encryption of administrative traffic by default. When administrative security is enabled, the WebSphere Application Server's internal links between the deployment manager and the application servers and traffic from the administrative clients (Web and command line) to the deployment manager are encrypted and authenticated. Among other things, this means that administrators will be required to authenticate when running the administrative tools.

3. Enabled Application Security.
In addition to leveraging the application server's security for administration, it's strongly recommend that you leverage it for application security. Doing so gives your applications access to a strong and robust standards-based security infrastructure. Applications that didn't leverage application server security were typically found to have serious security holes. Designing and implementing a secure distributed infrastructure is not easy.

To enable application security, go to the global security panel and select Enable application security.

4. Configure WebSphere Security with proper LDAP repository.
WebSphere security supports different configurations, including LDAP servers, local users and local operating system levels users. However, it's recommended that you use a proper LDAP server for this purpose.

5. Leverage Administrative roles.
WebSphere Application Server allows for a variety of administrative roles depending on the version: Administrator, Operator, Monitor, Configurator, AdminSecurityManager, iscadmins, Deployer, or Auditor. These roles make it possible to give individuals (and automated systems) access that's appropriate to their level of need. It's strongly recommended that you take advantage of roles whenever possible.

By using the less powerful roles of monitor and operator, you can restrict the actions an administrator can take. For example, you can give the less senior administrators just the ability to start and stop servers and the night operators just the ability the watch the system (monitor). These actions greatly limit the risk of damage by trusting people with only the permissions they need.

6. Use HTTP Server as an interface for the Applications.
Use HTTP servers in front of an application layer, i.e., WebSphere Application. Don't allow communications directly with WebSphere's http web container port from either a load balance or from browsers.

7. HTTP and WebSphere on the Same box.
At least in higher environments, install and configure the http server on a different box than the WebSphere box. In the lower environments the same box can be used for both layers.

8. Logs on External Drive.
At least in higher environments, write the WebSphere and application log files to an external drive, so it won't fill up the server's file space.

9. Logs Archive.
Depending on the application, rotate and clean up the logs in a timely manner.

10. Read-only Logs Access for Developer.
If it's okay with the security team, grant developers read-only access for WebSphere and the applications logs on the external drive.

11. Alternate Log Access for Developers.

To enable developers to view the production application and WebSphere logs, host those shared folders from the web server instead of giving them access to those boxes. Once the logs are hosted from the web server, developers need only a web browser to view those files from their computers.

12. Log Level.
Configure log level to error in high environments. Logs in the higher environments don't need to produce unnecessary information. In the lower environments it can be set to info or debug level.

13. Leverage WebSphere Application Servers' high availability and failover capabilities.
Out-of-the-box WebSphere support high availability and failover functionality. There is no need to use any external component or product for this. One of the key benefits is that  user http session can be shared within the cluster members and, in the case of failover, the other active cluster members can resume the activity using same session.

14. Minimum Cluster Members in Cluster.
In the WebSphere clustered environment, define and create at least three cluster members. In the case of failover with two cluster members, not only the entire load will shift to one node but it also becomes a single point of failure. With three nodes, at least the load will still be distributed to two nodes and there is no single point of failure.

15. Database and WebSphere on Same box.
At least in higher environments, separate the application layer from the data layer and install them on different boxes. In the lower environments the same box can be used for both layers.

16. Use Type-4 JDBC Drivers.
Type-4 JDBC drivers don't require any component to be installed on the application layer. For the type-2 and type-3, the database's client needs to install on the WebSphere box.

17. Protect application server to database link.
As with any other network link, confidential information can be written to or read from the database. Most databases support some form of network encryption and you should leverage it.

18. Script based WebSphere Administration.
In general, it's good practice to use scripts to avoid human errors during the deployment and configuration, especially in higher environments. However, it requires an investment in time and resources to develop these scripts, especially if it is first time and / or script-based administration is not part of the current culture. Once the scripts are created, they can be used in all environments and maybe automate some of the tasks.

19. Monitoring.
Use proper application and infrastructure runtime monitoring tools that can monitor environments and application thresholds and potentially alert you to problems before they cause service interruptions.

20. EAR vs WAR Files.
According to J2EE specs, EAR file should be deployed in WebSphere. However, WebSphere does support deploying WARs and upgrade class functionality. Developers should produce EAR files from their development tool or generate EAR should it be created from the deployment scripts before deploying the application in WebSphere.

21. Don't run samples in production.
WebSphere Application Server ships with several excellent examples to demonstrate various parts of the WebSphere Application Server. These samples are not intended for use in a production environment. Don't run them there, as they create significant security risks. In particular, the showCfg and snoop servlets can provide an outsider with tremendous amounts of information about your system. This is precisely the type of information you don't want to give a potential intruder. This is easily addressed by not installing the samples during the profile creation.

22. Environments.
Generally, it's good to have more environments. Typically four would be a sufficient enough: development, QA, staging and production. Development and QA environments don't need a lot of hardware resources. It's recommended that the staging environment be a replica of production in terms of application data and hardware resources. The staging environment can also be used for stress testing and / or for production support.

23. Performance Tuning.
Tune WebSphere application servers properly for each application. Performance tuning includes optimization of a number of web container threads, JVM heap sizes, JDBC connections, OS tuning, etc. After configuring these parameters to optimize values, boost the application performance. Stress / staging environment should be used for load testing.

24. Separate your production network from your intranet.
Most organizations today understand the value of a DMZ that separates the outsiders on the Internet from the intranet. However, far too many organizations fail to realize that many intruders are on the inside. You need to protect against internal as well as external threats. Just as you protect yourself against the large untrusted Internet, you should also protect your production systems from the large and untrustworthy intranet.

25. Separate your production networks from your internal network using firewalls.
These firewalls, while likely more permissive than the Internet-facing firewalls, can still block numerous forms of attack.

Keep up-to-date with patches and fixes. As with any complex product, IBM occasionally finds and fixes security bugs in WebSphere Application Server, Virtual Enterprise, Datapower and other products. It's crucial that you keep up-to-date on these fixes. It's advisable that you subscribe to support bulletins for the products you use and, in the case of WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Virtual Enterprise, monitor the security bulletin site for your version. Those bulletins often contain notices of recently discovered security bugs and the fixes. You can be certain that potential intruders learn of those security holes quickly. The sooner you act the better.

More information on WebSphere Application Server security, including recommendations on hardening the WebSphere Application Server infrastructure, is available on the WebSphere Application Server security page.

More Stories By Asim Saddal

Asim Saddal works in the Middleware (WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Datapower, WebSphere Process Server, WebSphere VE) practice of IBM Software Services for WebSphere.

@ThingsExpo Stories
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies.
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
There's no doubt that the Internet of Things is driving the next wave of innovation. Google has spent billions over the past few months vacuuming up companies that specialize in smart appliances and machine learning. Already, Philips light bulbs, Audi automobiles, and Samsung washers and dryers can communicate with and be controlled from mobile devices. To take advantage of the opportunities the Internet of Things brings to your business, you'll want to start preparing now.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
The world is at a tipping point where the technology, the device and global adoption are converging to such a point that we will see an explosion of a world where smartphone devices not only allow us to talk to each other, but allow for communication between everything – serving as a central hub from which we control our world – MediaTek is at the heart of both driving this and allowing the markets to drive this reality forward themselves. The next wave of consumer gadgets is here – smart, connected, and small. If your ambitions are big, so are ours. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jack Hu, D...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participa...
We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems – call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can “command and control” thi...
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
The worldwide cellular network will be the backbone of the future IoT, and the telecom industry is clamoring to get on board as more than just a data pipe. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Evan McGee, CTO of Ring Plus, Inc., discussed what service operators can offer that would benefit IoT entrepreneurs, inventors, and consumers. Evan McGee is the CTO of RingPlus, a leading innovative U.S. MVNO and wireless enabler. His focus is on combining web technologies with traditional telecom to create a new breed of unified communication that is easily accessible to the general consumer. With over a de...
Disruptive macro trends in technology are impacting and dramatically changing the "art of the possible" relative to supply chain management practices through the innovative use of IoT, cloud, machine learning and Big Data to enable connected ecosystems of engagement. Enterprise informatics can now move beyond point solutions that merely monitor the past and implement integrated enterprise fabrics that enable end-to-end supply chain visibility to improve customer service delivery and optimize supplier management. Learn about enterprise architecture strategies for designing connected systems tha...
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...