Simon Haslam's Oracle Fusion Middleware blog

Active GridLink for RAC is now included in Oracle WebLogic Suite

Finally it's official - the GridLink Data Source, also known as "Active GridLink for RAC" by Oracle's marketing folks, is now included as part of the WebLogic Suite licence!

As mentioned by James Bayer over on Oracle's WebLogic Blog the Fusion Middleware Licensing Document (11.1.1.5) has now been updated to this effect - the magic words are "Use of WebLogic Server GridLink data sources, known as Active GridLink for RAC, is an entitlement available only as part of licensing WebLogic Suite or Exalogic Elastic Cloud Software."

Note if you have downloaded an older version of the 11.1.1.5 middleware documentation set it does not include this wording.

 

For Java enterprise applications that make serious use of the database (which in practice usually means Oracle RAC), the GridLink Data Source is almost certainly the most significant improvement Oracle has made to the core WebLogic Server since it acquired BEA Systems 3 years ago. It brings the proper environmental integration between the java server and the database tier - taking into account not only service announcements (e.g. for instance maintenance, and as already implemented in Oracle's previous application server product), but also extending to dynamic workload management. If you have a busy 24/7 website, or demanding contact centre applications, this is very good stuff! For an introduction to the GridLink Data Source see my blog post earlier this year.

I have always maintained that WebLogic Suite, as Oracle's premium Application Server package, and RAC, Oracle's premium database product, should have sophisticated levels of integration built-in. Therefore, whilst I was delighted to see the development of the GridLink Data Source, I thought it was particularly harsh to effectively limit its use to those who also bought Oracle Exalogic (a high-end machine). Therefore I think this change in policy is a very positive sign that Oracle is listening to its customers, as well as providing an additional functional incentive for more customers to upgrade from iAS/WebLogic Basic to WebLogic Suite.

Which editions of WebLogic does this change apply to?

The traditional way that WebLogic users had to connect to a RAC database was with BEA's Multi Data Source, a feature that is less than satisfactory on a number of levels. The revised availability of Multi and GridLink Data Sources for the various products that include WebLogic Server is shown below:

 ProductMulti Data Source
GridLink Data Source
WebLogic Server Standard Edition
Included 
WebLogic Server Enterprise EditionIncluded 
WebLogic Server Basic
(i.e. included with iAS SE or EE)
Included 
WebLogic SuiteIncluded

Included
(see below)

WebLogic Suite plus Exalogic Elastic Cloud
(i.e. most likely an Exalogic server)

IncludedIncluded

When does this permission to use the GridLink Data Source take effect?

This change would appear to take effect immediately but, because the licensing document where this is described is released as part of the patchset documentation, it might depend on what patchset you are running:
  • 11.1.1.5 / 10.3.5 / PS4: as above, section 1.2.2.3.4, now says GridLink data source "available ... as part of licensing WebLogic Suite"
  • 11.1.1.4 / 10.3.4 / PS3: the licensing doc (section 1.2.2.3.4) says "WebLogic Server GridLink data sources, known as Active GridLink for RAC, are available when licensed with the Exalogic Elastic Cloud Software option on WebLogic Suite."
  • 11gR1 pre-PS3: the GridLink Data Source only arrived with PS3 and is not available on earlier releases.

Note: the above is purely based on my interpretation of the documents, so be sure to check for yourself and ask your Oracle sales person!

Oracle licensing is often considered a game of cat and mouse so using a Grid Link data source on PS3 might be a tasty morsel of cheese best left alone! My advice is, if you don't have tricky certification dependencies, to upgrade to WLS 10.3.5 as you shouldn't find it difficult.

Next Steps

So, if you're running WebLogic Suite 10.3.5 and RAC databases, I encourage you to put the GridLink data source on your research "to do" list. Here is some more information:

One consideration that may be relevant is the RAC database version/patchset you're running - in theory both 10g and 11g should be fine, but from experience with both UCP and GridLink I found one or two catches to be aware of.

If you're not quite in a position start research right now, and are going to be at Oracle OpenWorld 2011 in a couple of months, then please do come along to this session to find out more and see some demonstrations:

Oracle OpenWorld 2011 

Title

Oracle WebLogic Server and Oracle RAC

Session
20942
Abstract

Oracle WebLogic Server enables your applications to leverage Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC) for maximum performance, availability, and manageability. Attend this session to learn how to integrate Oracle WebLogic Server with Oracle RAC and hear details of Oracle WebLogic Server's Active GridLink feature for Oracle RAC. The presentation also discusses plans for future capabilities.

When/Where: Wednesday 5/10/11, 01:00 PM, Marriott Marquis - Salon 7
Who
Frances Zhao, Senior Principal Product Manager (Oracle), and myself

Sorry I couldn't fathom out how to link to this session - instead you can just go to the Oracle OpenWorld 2011 - Content Catalog and put gridlink into the search box... ours is the only session that comes up.

Frances and I will hopefully be doing the same presentation in Europe at the UKOUG Conference 2011 in Birmingham this December too - details to follow nearer the time.

UKOUG Conference 2011 


Comments:

James Bayer contacted me (thanks!) about the licensing situation and is of the opinion that the licensed features are based on product edition, not patchset - see WebLogic Weekly for August 1st, 2011. This of course sounds sensible.

With licensing however I try to only ever go on what I can see written down. If it is the case that GridLink Data Source is now allowable with WL Suite PS3 then the Oracle documentation team ought to update the OFM Licensing document for PS3 to make this unambiguous. Non-compliance could cost you $20,000 per Oracle processor licence for Exalogic Elastic Cloud software so is not something I personally would want to risk.

I recommend upgrading to WLS PS4 instead and then there's no issue. Happy GridLink-ing!

Posted by Simon Haslam on August 02, 2011 at 10:21 AM BST #

Hi Simon, I have also being investigating the situation with being allowed to use GridLink Data Sources on 10.3.4 as part of Weblogic Suite Licenses. I have been given assurance that we are fine to use Gridlink with Java/ADF applications from 10.3.4 (I would, though, get written confirmation from your account manager if you want to use it with 10.3.4 as oppossed to 10.3.5). However one final and major complication. Although part of license documentation now, I believe that GridLink is not technically certified with Fusion Middleware until PS5 (11.1.1.6). So if you want to use it with SOA 11.1.1.4 on WLS 10.3.4 or SOA 11.1.1.5 on 10.3.5 you would not technically be supported. It is only certified for Java/ADF applications currently. Perhaps this is something we could get James to comment on.

Posted by Mark Simpson on August 02, 2011 at 06:10 PM BST #

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