Today’s modern business environment requires a technology setup where multiple stand-alone systems are implemented and then expected to “talk” to each another seamlessly. In fact, no self-respecting business can now call itself a competitive one if it relies on a single system – or even a set of them with incompatible data output formats; the modern client demography will not allow it.
But there is a solution: one system that can bridge diverse data communication requests and handles systems’ integration well is WebLogic Server.
What is a WebLogic server?
A WebLogic Server is an application server that functions as a platform for developing, deploying, and running multi-tiered (n-tiered) distributed Java-based applications. It also serves as a bridge or “connector” between the applications that are hosted on it and the likes of remote databases or messaging servers.
Oracle Corp. has become a popular provider of online transaction processing (OLTP) platforms in the market today, and WebLogic Server is one of the tools that have allowed the tech company to become such a major contender. They acquired this Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) server with their acquisition of BEA Systems in 2008.
A WebLogic Server sits in the middle tier – along with the likes of proxies and firewalls. This is the tier that is located between the front-facing external applications (“Presentation or Client Layer” – usually browser enabled interfaces with the outside world) and the database servers (“Backend Layer” – the servers where data is stored).
From this middleware position, a WebLogic Server centralizes application services such as:
- Web services – the various functions of a web server
- Business services – the business components of a process
- Backend connectivity – enabling of connections to backend storage devices and servers
In other words, this Java-based application server enables an optimal and streamlined end-to-end performance of business processes. What’s more, the fact that it uses technology features like caching and connection pooling mean WebLogic Server also helps with cutting down processing and transaction times.
Finally, it shouldn’t be forgotten that this server system also provides enterprise-level security and powerful role administration capabilities.
So, how exactly do you use WebLogic Server?
Now that we have seen the generic definition of what a WebLogic Server is, let us get a bit more technical and see if we can’t break down its components as we try to describe it.
The basic WebLogic architecture
Apart from serving as a J2EE server, a WebLogic Server can be used to organize and administer other servers and, thus, the services running on them. Before we look into that, let’s define a few digital concepts that are used in its realm.
This is a collection of applications that have been grouped together for ease of administration. A domain consists of an admin server and a number of managed servers that are under its control.
This is a new domain that only has an admin server and nothing else. It may not be practical, but it can exist on its own.
These servers exist inside a domain and serve various purposes. Examples of such servers are SOA Suite, WebCenter Suite, and the Business Intelligence Suites.
The following video explains these concepts in a more visual way:
What happens when you install WebLogic Server?
To download your copy of WebLogic Server you need to go to the Oracle Technology Network software download page. After accepting the license agreement and downloading your preferred version of the software, you are all set to start your installation.
The installation scenarios that can play out include:
- Creation of a base domain – whenever you install a fresh instance of WebLogic you will, by default, create a basic domain with no managed servers. Until the managed servers are added, it really won’t do much.
- Creation of managed servers in the base domain – next, you move on to creating managed servers which are added to the main base domain. This is called “extending the base domain.”
- Creation of managed servers in new domains – if you decide you want to have your managed servers run in their own domain, WebLogic allows you to clone the existing admin server in the main domain and use it to create a new domain for your new managed server. This is known as “extending managed servers.”
- Clustering managed servers – in this scenario, once the managed servers have been installed in their different domains they can be “clustered” together to be run by one admin server which can reside in either of the domains.
Whatever your choice of installation, or the initial choice of architectural configuration, you can always restructure your design later, depending on the needs of your business processes logic.
Who is the WebLogic Server for?
Ideally, a WebLogic Server would sit well in a business’ technology environment where it would be configured to help by:
- Serving as a hosting solution for all Java-based applications
- Acting as a home for high-end websites
- Enhancing performance as an optimal and secure solution for issues with slow connectivity between front-end applications and back-end servers
- Becoming a bridge able to handle the business’ scalability issues as the digital footprint continues to grow
In short, it can be said that WebLogic Server is an application server that has the future in its sights. It serves as the facilitator for other [Java] applications, business suites, and hardware devices that need to be included in a business’ data processing flow.
A system that enables other systems needs to be configured and managed with care. It should itself be working well before it can oversee other systems. That is why it is important to keep track of their monitoring and management tools.
Below, we will have a look at three of the most popular WebLogic Server administration and monitoring tools.
Although it is a third-party product, SolarWinds WebLogic Performance Monitoring Tool is an administration suite that covers all aspects of monitoring and managing WebLogic Servers.
A look at this tool’s features gives us an insight into how powerful it actually is:
- Monitoring of memory allocation and usage ensuring processes are completed without hogging resources
- Server and application monitoring that provides in-depth performance insights into threads and pools. This includes current wait time and time taken for execution of requests, as well as keeping track of pending requests
- When integrated with Server & Application Monitor, the SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer provides detailed analysis and reports on Oracle databases in correlation with WebLogic Server for a clearer picture
- Monitoring of databases like SQL Server, MySQL, DB2, SAP ASE, and other databases allowing for almost 100% across-the-board communication when it comes to data storage
- Monitoring of virtual environments and applications like VMware and Hyper-V allowing for replication and testing of simulated settings
As you can see, this tool can really drill down into a WebLogic Server installation and come up with concise reports that are not only informative but are also easy to grasp and pleasant on the eyes. The SolarWinds WebLogic Performance Monitoring Tool comes with the Server and Application Monitor (SAM) is available for download a 30-day free trial.
This native Oracle administration console is accessed via a web browser and run from an Administration Server instance of a WebLogic Server domain. It uses Java objects known as MBeans, each of which contains a set of attributes that define the parameters for the different functions and operations that are used to administer the server.
Jobs that can be done using this administration tool include:
- Starting, stopping of instances and configuration of clusters
- Configuration of server services like database connectivity (JDBC) and messaging (JMS)
- Security, administration, and managing of users, groups, and roles
- Configuration and deployment of Java applications
- Monitoring performance of servers and applications, troubleshooting help via server and domain log files
One thing that needs to be said here is that, although the interface may look a bit drab, don’t be fooled by its lack of colors and pizazz – after all, this is a powerful tool made by the people behind WebLogic Server itself.
With WebLogic Smart Dashboard and Monitoring (WLSDM) we have another third-party administration and monitoring tool that is the “little engine that could”. It is a console extension – as opposed to a stand-alone solution – that prides itself on being a cheap solution (free for developers) that delivers results that are as good as that from the best of them.
Some great features from WLSDM are:
- Easy, quick, and non-resource-intensive installation – an advantage unique to extensions – that takes a snapshot of your WebLogic domain and makes recommendations right from the outset
- Ability to create an infinite number of custom dashboards to address administrators’ needs of control and reporting queries
- Easy-to-create alarms and notifications through the use of WLSDM metric browser
- Storage and retrieval of old data – including metric data, back-end data, and even alarms – for comparison and analysis
- Addition, and scheduling of, scripts for easy management of CRON jobs
As lean as WLSDM may seem to be, it still punches above its weight and delivers like the best of them – if not better.
What do the reviews say about WebLogic Servers?
Just like every software solution out there, WebLogic Server tool has its pros and cons; let’s have a look:
- It is a quality product from Oracle, the leading database software maker on the planet, and comes with data security and integrity guarantees
- A robust fail-safe solution – it is a must for mission-critical computing environments
- Ability to draw a complete picture over the WebLogic domain with compact reports that allow for easy comprehension and accurate decision making
- Might appear to be a bit bulky and bloated when compared to other similar software solutions
- It could also bite into processing times as it tackles issues in the background
- Not every small-to-medium business can afford the rather complex licensing fees
Should you get WebLogic Server?
WebLogic Servers are for businesses that have the computing power to carry the solution and can afford the rather steep fees – or those that think of it as an investment that is worth keeping their digital environment up and running smoothly.
Either way, with the monitoring and management tools that are available, WebLogic Server will continue to grow in popularity; especially with the Oracle fans who are spoilt for choice when it comes to the middle and peripheral Oracle suites that it’s compatible with.
In the long run, WebLogic Server will always be worth every single cent put into it – it will take over the monitoring of your technology while you focus on your business processes.