Ready for the Enterprise

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By Kevin Reichard (Send Email)
Posted Apr 7, 2000


Those who have not followed the application server marker should know that, like Linux, Cold Fusion has been seeking respect in the enterprise. Available only on Windows NT, a commitment to a proprietary development language, and the lack of some sorely ne eded reliability features, Cold Fusion has been widely accepted on the midsize departmental level, where a small workgroup could eas ily set up and manage a single Cold Fusion server. That''s why the popularity of Cold Fusion is somewhat misleading: without penetra tion into larger enterprises, Cold Fusion could potentially be pigeonholed and eventually lose market share.

The process of tailoring Cold Fusion into a multitiered application server began before the release of version 4.5.1. However, with the introductio n of some new scalability and reliability features, and the support for Linux (which is a much more stable server platform than Wind ows NT), Cold Fusion is ready for the enterprise. (By and large, the features listed here are available only in the Enterprise Editi on.)

First, Cold Fusion supports clustering on the Linux platform, something Linux itself does not do a particularly good job with. Cold Fusion 4.5.1 enables load balancing and failover with two components: ClusterCATS Server and ClusterCATS Explorer. Those from outside the enterprise or mission-critical-application worlds may not realize how significant these features are, particularly in a Linux environment.

Load balancing is pretty much what the name implies: Within a cluster of servers, the ClusterCATS s erver ensures server workloads remain even and that one server is not totally overwhelmed while others are underused. The load balan cing in Cold Fusion is not among the most advanced on the market, as it relies mainly on some rough calculations of server levels. S imilarly, failover means that if a server or an application hangs or fails, the sessions are then switched over to another server in the cluster while ClusterCATS attempts to recover the failed application server. (This can be done on Linux servers outside of a cl uster as well.)

For the enterprise, the Cold Fusion load balancing can be enhanced on a network using Cisco Local Director s oftware. Load Director provides advanced load clustering based on load metrics and application server availability, so there''s a mu ch more sophisticated analysis of usage levels and better responses to problems.

Cold Fusion 4.5.1 also enhances performance by a number of small steps that, when combined, should yield some verifiable results. For example, client-side page caching improve s site performance by keeping frequently accessed pages in RAM. Cold Fusion also reduces white space in pages, making them smaller a nd faster. Debugging system performance can be done via scriptable performance metrics during runtime, while also accessing debuggin g information on the performance of each individual page included in an application page.

Finally, Cold Fusion features a sl ew of connectivity options, including ODBC, OLE DB, and native drivers (DB2, Oracle, Informix, and Sybase).

In the End

Cold Fusion 4.5.1 for Linux is available in three editions: Professional, Enterprise, and Express. The Professional Edition is a vailable for $995, while Cold Fusion Enterprise 4.5.1 for Linux (as well as Windows and Unix versions) costs $3,495. These prices ar e actually on the low side when compared to other application servers.

Our only hesitation about wholeheartedly recommending Co ld Fusion 4.5.1 for Linux is the lack of some tools, such as a Linux version of Studio and better security controls, that are import ant in the Cold Fusion world. But this may be a somewhat unfair criticism, as Allaire has done a masterful job in migrating a comple x application originally developed solely for Windows NT. There''s no doubt that both Allaire and the larger Linux community will be nefit from the release of Cold Fusion version 4.5.1 for Linux. Both have been seeking greater respect in the enterprise community, a nd with many of the new features found in Cold Fusion, enterprises should sit up and take note. And, one would think, they''d decide that the affordable, powerful, and efficient Linux operating system makes the most sense for deployment in the enterprise.

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