BEA WebLogic 7 -- A True Market Leader

According to a recent Gartner study, BEA Systems' WebLogic Server has 34 percent of the application server space, the largest market share of any single vendor. It has the largest market share because BEA has always been at the forefront of market developments, supporting new standards, such as J2EE 1.3 and XML, quickly and thoroughly. WebLogic Server 7.0 is a major new release that not only adds support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.3, but also offers significant scalability features, including caching and clustering along with new administrative tools that make the server easier to set up and run, especially in a clustered environment.

To see how the clustering setup works, we installed WebLogic on two systems and found it very simple to set up. Since WebLogic works by specifying the IP address, the servers need static IP addresses. But other than that, the installation is very simple. The WebLogic installation is run only once, then the cluster wizard is started, and it installs the necessary components on the other servers in the cluster. This can be multiple IP ports such as and, or the same port on different IP addresses, either on the same server or different systems. According to Eric Stahl, Director of Product Marketing for BEA, clusters of up to 100 systems have been tested in BEA's labs, and 40 to 50 systems are not uncommon in production environments. BEA WebLogic dominates the application server market. After test-driving version 7, we understand why.

While having an easy setup and clustering is nice, the true test of an application server is the environment it provides for the developer. Here too, WebLogic Server 7.0 excels. It supports all the latest standards (as noted at the end of this article); offers simple integration with other environments including CORBA, .NET, and COM; has a very nice EJB packaging feature that automatically readies Beans for deployment; and has an integrated security environment that makes it simple to implement secured applications and enforce security throughout a large, complex enterprise application.

The new feature list for this version is several pages long, and therefore we won't attempt to cover everything. Noteworthy new features include the jCOM adapter that bridges Java to COM+ objects; SOAP, WDSL and XML support; a uniform security model that includes role-based security; a UDDI server; and additional clustering features for additional reliability and scalability in the enterprise.

Integrating with existing components and legacy applications is supported through the jCOM adapter, CORBA integration through remote method invocation and Internet inter-ORB protocol (RMI/IIOP), as well as a Tuxedo connector that integrates Tuxedo apps with WebLogic, and mqserver wrappers for connecting to CICS applications.

Support for SOAP, WDSL and XML is well-integrated and automated, rather than merely manual compatible. For example, WebLogic Builder, the deployment system, automates the creation of XML deployment descriptor files, while ANT, the Java-based build tool, simplifies 'making' applications through XML-based configuration files that can be automatically created. If WebLogic Workshop is also used, drag-and-drop enterprise applications are created in a manner similar to the integrated development and deployment approach available with .NET products.

WebLogic also integrates with third-party development tools from Borland, WebGain, Sun Forte and others, as well as management platforms, such as BMC Patrol, Tivoli, and OpenView, which can monitor and control WebLogic.

Security is a key issue for both internal applications and distributed Web services. WebLogic supports new security standards such as Java Secure Socket Extension (JSSE), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS), and also brings a unified security model to the enterprise application. Policies for application access, user authentication, security auditing, and PKI for data protection can all be specified by container, rather than requiring component-level tools. So a standardized security model can be easily implemented for all applications under development. BEA also provides a security programming interface, so third-party security vendors can easily extend the capabilities of the server.

This version of WebLogic expands clustering functionality has been expanded and simplified, not an easy thing to do. Performance enhancements include connection pooling capability, and caching at the component tier, so developers don't have to write code for every app. Applications can be easily distributed across a cluster, and with the new session protection, application state is replicated in memory throughout a cluster, so even if a server fails, applications don't need to be restarted.

WebLogic Server 7.0 is a major upgrade to BEA's flagship application server. We believe it will attract enterprise developers who need the solid performance and enterprise-level features. With the Enterprise Platform 7.0 suite, BEA offers a solid Java-based alternative to the .NET platform.

Pros: Supports the latest standards; 7 Cluster installation and management is exceptionally easy, overall management is also improved; 7 Enterprise Platform product line includes a set of integrated products that make development easier, including the server, the development environment, the portal, and the Java Virtual Machine

Cons: Fairly expensive

Version Reviewed: 7.0
Reviewed by: Logan Harbaugh
Last Updated: 7/18/02
Date of Original Review: 7/18/02

This article was originally published on Jul 18, 2002
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