Java IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Frank Lupo

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog

Java IoT: Article

The Benefits of Virtualized WebLogic Clustering

An opportunity to overcome cost inefficiencies

Across the BEA product family, the principle mechanism for meeting the twin requirements of scalability and availability for business-critical applications is clustering WebLogic application servers. So clustering WebLogic application servers plays a foundational role across all BEA products and provides the underpinnings for the AquaLogic Service Bus that provides a services infrastructure for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

WebLogic clustering does a competent job of meeting the principal twin goals of scalability and availability, but injects some new problems into the mix, which have negative implications for the business objectives that demanded clustering in the first place. In other words, WebLogic clustering keeps the lights on, but introduces cost inefficiencies in managing the services infrastructure, especially in the context of SOA. So, how does basic clustering work? What are its benefits? How does it introduce inefficiencies, specifically in the context of SOA? How are these WebLogic clustering inefficiencies overcome through virtualization? These questions are addressed in this article.

Let's start with a quick overview of basic WebLogic clustering - touching on the key features and benefits - followed by a discussion about how basic WebLogic clustering introduces cost inefficiencies into the mix, and how these inefficiencies are exacerbated by SOA. Finally, we'll introduce the key features and benefits of virtualized WebLogic clustering, and offer some conclusions related to virtualized WebLogic clustering.

Basic WebLogic Clustering
Basic WebLogic clustering is comprised of identically configured managed WebLogic server instances that can be managed as a unit from an administration server. All the managed servers, in a cluster, belong to the same WebLogic domain, whereby each domain defines a set of interrelated resources. Each domain can, of course, define multiple clusters. A cluster, however, can only be associated with a single domain and a single administration server.

Key Features
Basic WebLogic clustering offers following key features:

  • The core capability of clustering is the replication of critical application components and their state across clustered managed servers, thereby creating the possibility for auto-matic application failover from one managed server instance to another.
  • This replication capability is bolstered through two related capabilities:
    - Replication of the Java Naming Directory Interface (JNDI) tree that contains references to these objects. Remote clients use the JNDI tree to discover these objects.
    - Clients that need to interact with these replicated objects use replica-aware stubs that are aware of all the replicas in the cluster.
  • The ability to migrate a complete managed server automatically to another machine selected from a predefined set of available machines is important for migrating singleton services that can't be replicated.
  • WebLogic clustering provides plug-ins for Web servers, which add load-balancing capability for balancing HTTP requests across managed server instances. These Web server plug-ins support HTTP session replication and can automatically detect changes in clusters' managed server set.
  • Basic WebLogic clustering uses multicast and socket-to-socket network communications to implement the features discussed above.
Key Benefits
As we alluded to at the outset, basic WebLogic clustering offers two key benefits:
  • The first benefit is scalability. The overall capacity of a cluster to meet demand can be increased by adding more managed server instances to it. However, in basic WebLogic clustering, the process of adding new managed server instances to a cluster in response to increased demand is largely manual in nature.
  • The second benefit is increased availability. The application failover capability based on the replication of state and critical application components across clusters' managed server set and the ability to migrate complete managed server instances automatically to a different machine offer higher availability for applications deployed on a WebLogic cluster.
These capabilities and benefits are impressive and work fairly well in practice. But, didn't we say something about cost inefficiencies?

Cost Inefficiencies
Basic WebLogic clustering offers some solid benefits, but introduces the following cost inefficiencies:

  • Each application deployed to a cluster needs to be sized for the cluster. This involves estimating peak demand for the application and provisioning enough managed server instances in the cluster so peak demand can be met. This process is repeated for each application. Provisioning for peak demand creates large pockets of underutilized hardware infrastructure capacity. This underutilized capacity creates cost inefficiencies, because each hardware resource has capital, operational, and administrative costs.
  • The second issue is that each managed server instance needs to be provisioned with WebLogic software and administered to be brought online as part of a WebLogic cluster. This basically creates inflexible cluster silos that consume significant administrative costs and are largely inflexible in terms of their configurability into different application clusters.
This brings us to the issue of how cost inefficiencies get exacerbated in the context of SOA.

Exacerbation of Cost Inefficiencies Under SOA
SOA is about creating standards-based, interoperable, reusable services that can be loosely coupled to orchestrate complex business processes. In the BEA product family, the AquaLogic Service Bus provides a reliable hub-and-spoke integration system so that arbitrary services can be loosely coupled though two key mechanisms - proxy services and configurable message flows.

Naturally, AquaLogic promotes service reuse, but its execution environment is based on basic WebLogic clustering. This means that the cost inefficiencies introduced earlier are exacerbated in the context of AquaLogic, because the more you adopt SOA in your organization, the harder it is to predict the demand profile on a specific service. This is because a given service can be configured into arbitrary business processes. What all this means is that the problem of overprovisioning is exacerbated in the context of AquaLogic. In fact, perhaps anticipating this, AquaLogic provides a dashboard that provides alerts related to the service levels configured in AquaLogic. However somebody has to react to these alerts manually, which brings us to the topic of virtualized Weblogic clustering and how it helps overcome cost inefficiencies.

Virtualized WebLogic Clustering
Virtualized WebLogic clustering, as the name implies, virtualizes the cluster's managed server set, both in terms of size and membership. The members of this set are the machines on which the managed server instances are run.

Key Features
The key features of virtualized WebLogic clustering are as follows:

  • Virtualized WebLogic clustering adds a control plane on top of basic WebLogic clustering. This control plane is managed by a centralized broker and consists of distributed agents installed on a predefined set of machines.
  • The predefined set of machines, with distributed agents, becomes the universe from which the managed server set for a given cluster is mapped at any given time. Each machine with a distributed agent is capable of running one or more instances of a managed server.
  • A virtualized WebLogic cluster's managed server set is automatically expanded or contracted based on configurable policies, which dictate how the cluster should adapt and respond to its managed server set in response to varying demand.
  • The broker, through its distributed agents, effects changes in the managed server set.
  • Varying demand is characterized in terms of configurable JMX-based statistics, such as WebLogic Throughput, WebLogic Queue Size, and Active Thread User Count, among others, that are supported by WebLogic application servers and are constantly probed and measured at each managed server instance by the distributed agent and aggregated at the centralized broker.
  • HTTP clients access the cluster in the same way they would in a basic clustering scenario. The virtualized WebLogic clustering doesn't introduce any new issues in terms of the load balancing of HTTP requests.
  • For non-HTTP clients, such as EJB clients, it's imperative that the clients can create an initial JNDI context based on a JNDI Provider URL. The broker provides a Web Service that helps in the discovery of the virtualized managed server set and thus the construction of the JNDI Provider URL for creating an initial JNDI context.
  • The broker is responsible for provisioning all required software to the distributed agents, including WebLogic application server software components and Java software development toolkit software.
The basic architecture for virtualized WebLogic clustering is summarized in Figure 1.

Key Benefits
The key benefits of virtualized WebLogic clustering are as follows:

  • Virtualized WebLogic clustering can dynamically change the managed server set in response to configurable policies - clusters don't need to be provisioned for peak demand, which addresses the concerns of cost inefficiencies.
  • The general benefits of virtualization are now well understood. It improves infrastructure utilization at all levels of the IT stack. From the adoption of virtualization at the operating system level to the application server level, virtualization can provide direct benefits holistically or independently.
  • Through a centralized dashboard, software is automatically monitored, controlled, and provisioned to agents making cluster management and administration simpler and more cost-effective.
Basic WebLogic clustering is critical for scalability and availability and required for business critical applications. However, basic clustering requires provisioning the cluster for peak demand, which leads to a number of cost inefficiencies that have a multiplicative effect across the application set and can quickly add up, consuming significant chunks of any IT budget. The virtualization of WebLogic clusters presents enterprises with an opportunity to help overcome cost inefficiencies by developing an environment that can dynamically adapt a cluster to its demand profile per predefined configured policies.

More Stories By Ajay Vohra

Ajay Vohra is a senior solutions architect with DataSynapse Inc.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Eric Van Wieren 03/29/07 04:05:01 PM EDT

I found this article very interesting, but I have some issues with the content. You spend the time to talk about Weblogic virtualization, but you do not provide any resources for additional reading.

After looking into the documentation for Weblogic 9.2, I was unable to find any reference to virtualized clusters. Is this a default configuration that is available out of the box from Weblogic or is it a piece of their larger portal offerings. As an administrator and developer, I am interested in harnessing this type of technology. However, your article provides no information on where these tools are located, let alone how to configure them.

The article reads more like a sales pitch or a college report than a technical article. If additional resources were provided, then I do not believe that I would have the same opinion. Without further information, this article is useless.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...