Simon Haslam's Oracle Fusion Middleware blog

Oracle WebLogic 12c - Key Points from Online Launch Event

This evening I watched both Oracle WebLogic Server 12c launch webcasts: the first was an overview session led by Hasan Rizvi (Senior VP for OFM and Java) and the second was a more developer-oriented discussion mainly delivered by Will Lyons (Director of Product Management for WLS). You can download slides and recordings of the webcasts by clicking the Oracle link on the image, and the Q&A responses are supposed to be published soon too.

Oracle WebLogic 12c Online Launch Event

This post is a summary of the key points from both sessions combined, with my usual bias towards middleware architects and production administrators (rather than developers). Note it includes slides from the presentations which are now publicly available, but were prefaced with Oracle's standard "Safe Habour" statement which means you should not make any decisions based on them until 12c is actually available (expected to be around next Thursday by the way).

UK readers please note that Will Lyons, one of the launch event speakers, will be giving Oracle's first public, in-person WebLogic Server 12c presentation in his keynote this Monday at 10am at the UKOUG 2011 Conference!

Oracle's Will Lyons

Firstly Hasan explained how WebLogic was the core of the "Cloud Application Foundation". The latter is a new term I first heard at Oracle OpenWorld a couple of months ago and is meant to represent the engine room of  Fusion Middleware - here is the diagram you can expect to see as much as the old Fusion Middleware components one:

Oracle Cloud Application Foundation

You should make two observations from this slide - firstly, the new Oracle Traffic Director product (a software load balancer - see my previous OOW post) and, secondly, boxes alluding to what Oracle now consider the three deployment approaches:

  • 'Conventional hardware': rack and blade servers (whether from Oracle/Sun or other vendors)
  • 'Engineered systems': Exalogic
  • Cloud: Oracle Public Cloud

The diagram above only relates to deployments on Exalogic or Oracle Public Cloud (which is expected to run on Exalogic of course), the reason being that Oracle Traffic Director is an Exalogic-only product at the moment (as confirmed in the Q&A on this session).

This launch covers 3 products:

  • Oracle WebLogic Server 12c
  • Oracle Traffic Director
  • Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder
 Hazan Rizvi, Oracle
However only the new version of WebLogic Server is likely to be available before the end of the year, and given that JavaEE 6 / JavaSE 7 is what development teams have been waiting patiently for, this is the product that received most of the attention.

Hasan said that the drivers for this release were two-fold:

  1. Speed: improving speed to develop, deploy and respond to change
  2. Efficiency: reducing work for developers and ops staff, and making better use of hardware

WebLogic Server features within the recently release Enterprise Manager 12c were mentioned in passing, including arguably the most cloud-like features of self-service provisioning and usage billing (I suspect that initially is at the virtual machine, rather than WebLogic JVM, level... though I may be wrong!).

Will described several of the key JavaEE 6 features now supported by WebLogic (such as CDI/annotations, POJO, REST - all of which you can read about elsewhere as they has been available for some time now in GlassFish, the reference implementation, and more recently some of the other commercial application servers like JBoss EAP). He also demonstrated improved Maven integration, as well as deploying to WebLogic using existing GlassFish deployment descriptions (which WLS now understands). NetBeans and Eclipse IDE (via OEPE) now support WebLogic Server 12c and JDeveloper is expected to follow soon. Also the zip installer for developers which, though introduced last year with one of the 11g patchsets, has now been slimmed down further from 300MB to 168MB.

Here's the slide covering the various new/enhanced tooling features - some of which you may recognise from 11g, such as CAT, but are perhaps more tightly integrated now.

WebLogic Server 12c - modern development tooling

Update (2 December 11:30):

As pointed out on Twitter by Lucas Jellema (@lucasjellema) WebLogic 12c runs on a converged JVM (i.e. Sun HotSpot and JRockit have been combined). I'd completely missed that point last night - that will be why Flight Recorder is mentioned on the slide above (and presumably includes Mission Control integration)! This will be welcome news for administrators - I've had a number of discussions with customers over the last couple of years as to whether to use JRockit or HotSpot (a more tricky choice if you're on SPARC) so that decision will no longer be required. Here's the Java SE 7 slide from yesterday:


Update (3 December 10:30): In an ACE Director briefing yesterday I asked Mike Lehmann for clarification around my HotSpot/JRockit convergence question. I don't think I'll be breaking any NDA by saying that WLS 12c will be certified initially (i.e. 12.1.1) for Java SE 6 (both HotSpot and JRockit JVMs, as for 11g today), and that certification for Java SE 7 (the converged JVM) is in testing and will follow soon. It sounds as though the additional tooling from JRockit, i.e. Mission Control including Flight Recorder, will arrive for Java SE 7 next year.

My interpretation of this is that if you're looking to install WLS 12c in development for a new Java project due to go live in, say, 6 months or so, you should probably go for Java SE 7 (which includes lots of nice new things for developers, like the Project Coin enhancements). However if you think you're going to be in production sooner, e.g. if you have an existing application you're moving to Java EE 6, then you should stick with Java SE 6 and JRockit (assuming you're on a supported platform).

(end of updates)

I'll come back to Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder another day - suffice to say it allows to you design and deploy pre-defined collections of ready installed Virtual Machines into different environments (not unlike VMware vCenter Orchestrator). It's a technology that I think is potentially very significant indeed for administrators (as you can see in my interview with Jeff Erickson for Oracle Magazine over a year ago), though I will reserve judgement as to whether it is mature enough for production yet.

There was a further discussion about refined affinity features included in GridLink for RAC with 12c. If you're attending UKOUG 2011 next week I encourage you to come along to a presentation by Frances Zhao (from Oracle Product Management) and myself on this topic. In a similar vein Hasan mentioned about simplifying Disaster Recovery by storing JTA tlogs in the database and, then using Active Data Guard to replicate it (e.g. alongside JMS and application data).

The final subject covered were some new SPECjEnterprise 2010 benchmark records, demonstrating performance improvements for the same amount of hardware. There were also some woolly figures about how much faster Exalogic is compared to 'conventional hardware' and how some customers have seen 2-10x performance improvements from their OLTP applications when deployed to Exalogic, but until Oracle publishes standard benchmarks results for Exalogic I tend to take such things with a pinch of salt!

So, in conclusion, WebLogic Server 12c is undoubtedly an important release, if only to developers for the new Java EE 6 features and compatibility. Since the BEA acquisition Oracle has worked hard to improve WebLogic integration and end-to-end resilience within the modern enterprise infrastructure, and the new release refines several of these changes so will be welcomed by administrators too.


Note: there will be many more Middleware discussions next week at the UKOUG annual conference in Birmingham. If any readers see me there do say hello!

UKOUG 2011 Conference

 


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