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BEA WebLogic Server -- An Enterprise-level application server with advanced Java support

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Dec 15, 1999


No application server on the market supports Java better than BEA Systems' WebLogic Server. With advanced support for Java Server Pages (JSP), Java Messaging Services, in-memory servlets session-state management, Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB; both session and entity beans), and new clustering technology, BEA Systems' WebLogic application server is a leader in the application server space. It goes above and beyond most of its competitors in terms of Java-oriented features and reliability &#0151 particularly in areas of great importance to enterprises.

No application server on the market supports Java better than BEA Systems' WebLogic Server.

This emphasis on reliability extends to the entire architecture. While other application servers offer load-balancing, failover, and fault tolerance, BEA WebLogic Server 4.5.1 offers these technologies for both Web pages and EJB components. (Most application servers offer these technologies only for Web pages.) While these items may seem obscure on the surface, on a practical level, they are critical for mission-critical applications.

The importance of these features can be seen in the example of an enterprise that sets up an e-commerce application, and uses a "shopping cart" to process the order and receive the credit-card data. When the user gets to the "check out," the enterprise would not want the application server to fail. With WebLogic, transparent replication and failover means that another application server in the cluster is ready to finish the transaction should the main server fail; load balancing means that the WebLogic server will not be overwhelmed &#0151 the high demand will be sent to a less-busy server. BEA uses a load-balancing algorithm to ensure that the load is truly balanced, as opposed to round-robin load-balancing (used by lesser application servers), which merely shuffles requests rather than analyzing where to best send them.

WebLogic Server's EJB clustering &#0151 which is not actually part of the server, but rather is an option purchased separately &#0151 goes a step further and maintains a transparent connection for stateful EJB objects even when the server goes down. Transactions can be recovered immediately on another server in the cluster. Again, the end result means that an EJB object will never crash and cause pain for either the user or the system.

This clustering technology makes WebLogic one of the most scaleable application servers available. When an enterprise's site is a huge success and is processing a large number of transactions (leading to stress on the system), adding more servers and managing them from one centralized position can easily be done without the requiring Java applications to be recoded.

The Java emphasis, however, does not mean WebLogic is totally immune to the realities of the marketplace, particularly when it comes to supporting Microsoft technologies. WebLogic now supports COM+ objects (moving beyond merely Common Object Request Broker Architecture &#0151 CORBA &#0151 support), although it does so by wrapping these objects in Java. Similarly, WebLogic supports COM+ bindings for Java and EJB objects. Although the support could be far more transparent, COM and CORBA support is still fairly unique in the application server space.

Obviously, only larger enterprises will have the wherewithal in terms of resources and finances to implement a cluster with a constantly high level of redundancy. Therefore, BEA WebLogic 4.5.1 is best-suited for the enterprise where its $10,000 price tag won't raise eyebrows. However, BEA Systems now ships WebLogic in three different tiers: Server, Enterprise, and Express. Enterprises will want to match the capabilities of each level to their needs, but even at the lowest level, WebLogic is still an entity best suited for Fortune 500 companies.

Other features in BEA WebLogic are also best suited to larger enterprises. WebLogic Server now integrates with BEA Tuxedo and BEA WebLogic Enterprise for a higher level of transaction processing and support for CORBA applications. With Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) connection pools, a WebLogic Server can dynamically create, alter and destroy JDBC connection pools, allowing the system to adjust and allocate resources as needed.

BEA WebLogic ships with native JDBC drivers for Oracle, Sybase, Informix and Microsoft SQL Server, as well as with a generic driver for any JDBC-compliant database. The presence of native drivers &#0151 as opposed to a generic driver &#0151 distinguishes BEA WebLogic from other application servers that rely on generic JDBC drivers. In addition, BEA WebLogic works with all major Web servers, including Apache HTTP Server, Netscape Enterprise Server, Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), and Domino Go for AS/400. (We tested BEA WebLogic on a Slackware Linux system running Apache.)

The main difference between BEA WebLogic Server and most of the other application servers on the market is that BEA WebLogic Server is not closely tied to an application development environment from the same manufacturer. Instead, it is tied closely to Symantec's Visual Cafi Enterprise Suite (which also emphasizes EJB via the development side), and allows easy integration with IBM VisualAge, Microsoft Visual J++, and Borland JBuilder.

BEA WebLogic Server remains a leading player in the application server field. With the new clustering technology and advanced EJB support, enterprises looking for an e-commerce solution should look carefully at BEA WebLogic Server, particularly if they have already made a commitment to Java.

Pros: Advanced EJB and enterprise resource planning (ERP) support 7 Native drivers for many different databases 7 Support for both CORBA and COM+

Cons: Expensive 7 COM+ support comes by wrapping objects in Java

New in v4.5.1: JSP, Java Messaging Services, and in-memory servlets session state management; Release Notes

Version Reviewed: 4.5.1
Reviewed by: Kevin Reichard
Last Updated: 3/6/02
Date of Original Review: 12/15/99

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