The Fantastic New WebLogic on Oracle Database Appliance 2.9 Release is Here!
17 Apr 2014 by Simon Haslam (in HA)Last week was a big day in virtualised ODA-land as it saw the launch of WebLogic on ODA 2.9. Admittedly it doesn't sound like a very exciting release but it is one that we at O-box have been looking forward to for quite some time. Let me explain why, then we'll look into the details...
The ODA X4-2 has 48 Intel Xeon cores. That is a lot of compute power. Whilst the largest O-box SOA Appliance single environment configuration can in theory use all those cores (currently with 40 vCPU of SOA!) the vast majority of O-box users will want smaller configurations. Prior to 2.9 the Oracle WebLogic implementation only supported one domain per ODA, so the conundrum O-box development faced last year was either: offer customers only one SOA environment on their O-box for now (but have the benefit of a standard, easily supportable WebLogic installation), or build our own WebLogic/OTD OVM templates from scratch.
One of our driving goals with O-box is to give the best possible experience and make the appliance as supportable as possible. Therefore we took the gamble that we would stick with the Oracle's one-domain WebLogic configuration initially, and just hope that it would deliver multi-domain support for us in a timely manner (note: this is probably not a strategy that business textbooks would recommend!).
Anyway, we've been working closely with Oracle Product Management for a few months now and I'm delighted to see 2.9 as the fruits of their labour. This also neatly ties in with several recent requests for O-box to include OSB as well as SOA/BPEL (which we have always wanted to have in separate domains). The diagram below is the neatest way to summarise what the new 2.9 release will allow us to deliver, i.e. previously only one 3D box was possible:
The second important feature for O-box is now being able to run the ODA WebLogic Configuration Utility (or "configurator" if you are the other side of the Atlantic!) in silent mode. Some of you will have heard me talk about my vision for O-box which is to provision 100% silently, based on our "2 stick install" approach. Technically this is feasible but one of the stumbling blocks has been us not being able to run the configurator java UI silently from the O-box Manager. I'm pleased to say there's now a --silent option and that it works exactly as advertised!
Finally, there was a little unexpected treat in 2.9 which I'll come on to later. So let's dig a little deeper...
Multi-Domains, Multi-Clusters & Multi-VIPs
To support the various "multi" options there inevitably had to be several changes to the user interface. The wizard is not exactly pretty, but it is functional. Here's the second screen which, for example, now gives you a clearer view of the licensing situation for your chosen configuration (you'll see why I've made the window so wide in a moment):
In this example I've chosen to have 2 WebLogic domains, each with 2 managed servers and to provision ODA's software load balancer, Oracle Traffic Director (OTD). Admin servers have 2 vCPU and managed servers have 4 vCPU, giving 10 vCPU, i.e. 5 cores, per environment by default.
Now let's look at the main screen which is used to configure WebLogic. You'll see it's pretty wide, though if you scroll to the right is only has username and password. Another couple of points you might notice: the cluster names are fixed and you can only choose one version of WebLogic for the ODA.
After that you, optionally get to choose the database connectivity details for JMS and an application connection pool. Note that the previously automatically created w0l0sint database has now gone - it was no use to O-box anyway as we wanted to be able to choose the most appropriate size and type (RAC/RON/EE) of database for the Fusion Middleware repository.
One final new option is for multiple VIPs on OTD - one for each domain. For multiple clusters within a domain the same VIP is used but the port number is incremented by 1 for each cluster (I'm not sure how well that will meet the typical requirements but you can always change it later).
A significant feature I hadn't realised would make it into 2.9 is that the WebLogic and Traffic Director VMs are now run from a new shared repository (wlsodarepo which appears to be 140GB, at least from my tests). Since ODA 2.8, and its introduction of shared repositories running on ACFS storage, virtual machine failover has been an option. I had played around manually creating a shared repo and moving VMs but automatic setup is far easier. This is exactly what we need for one of Jacco Landlust and my favourite topics: Admin Server high availability! As it happens FailOver is currently set to false on both WLS and OTD admin servers - I'm not sure why yet, but I'm sure this should be fixable either by an O-box Chef recipe or in the next ODA release or two.
I've been putting the new software through its paces (it's taking around 67 minutes to build a 2 node WLS/OTD cluster of 6 VMs) and so far it seems pretty robust. In summary, the new WebLogic on ODA 2.9 release includes:
- multi-domain, multi-cluster, multi-VIP support
- silent option for running the ODA WebLogic configurator
- the WebLogic and Oracle Traffic Director VMs automatically installed on a shared repository (excellent for the Admin Servers)
Expect to see the new multi-environment feature appearing on the O-box SOA Appliance very soon
1) I think the Java version in the ODA_BASE was upgraded from 6 to 7 in the ODA 2.9 update. This means that, if you use some of the open source derived X servers on Windows, like Xming, you will hit an issue where you can't type into fields. If you've paid for Xming though recent versions work fine - alternatively a workaround is to switch to single window mode (see my comments on Laurens van der Starre's helpful blog post).
2) Only ODA X4-2 is supported today but I understand X3-2 is being regression tested so should be supported very soon. I doubt this release will ever be available for ODA V1 though due to its lower core count and amount of memory (i.e. making the new "multi" features far less relevant).