Oracle Brings WebLogic 12 to the Cloud

by Sean Kerner

First major release of Java middleware server in two years, advances scalability, Java EE 6 and Java SE 7 features.

Sitting at the foundation of Oracle's middleware is the WebLogic server, which was last updated in 2009 with the 11g release. Today, Oracle debuted the next generation WebLogic 12c server, providing new cloud scale and Java features.

The WebLogic 12c release comes as the Java 7 language specification begins to take hold and as cloud deployments continues to rise.

"The Cloud application foundation is the underlying application infrastructure for all of our Fusion middleware, and WebLogic12c is the cornerstone of that infrastructure," Mike Lehmann, senior director of product management, Oracle told InternetNews.com.

According to Lehmann, one of the biggest new features in WebLogic 12c is full support for JavaEE 6. He noted that Oracle has been adding some JavaEE 6 APIs to minor WebLogic 11g updates to provide some incremental features.

"12c has the full complement of JavaEE 6, including RESTful Web Services, lightweight Web Services with EJB and the most desired feature which is context and dependency injection," Lehmann said.

Lehmann noted that customers have been waiting for JavaEE 6, since it significantly reduces the amount of code and Java classes that previously necessitated the use of third party frameworks. He added that WebLogic customers can leverage JavaEE 6 now as a lightweight development framework and programming model.

Support is also included for Java SE 7, which was officially launched in July. Java SE 7 provides better mutli-core processor support with the fork/join framework, and it includes improvements to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for multi-language support.

The focus on developers and efficiency is also reflected in the size of the WebLogic 12c server itself. Lehmann said that the developer download size for WebLogic 12c is only 168 MB, which is a sixfold size decrease compared to the previous release.

From a scalability perspective, Oracle is baking in a higher level of abstraction for cloud deployments. Lehmann explained that the Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder component gathers up multiple virtual machines into a unit known as an "assembly." He added that when virtual machines are treated as a unit it provides the abstraction necessary to properly manage a cloud deployment.

The Oracle Traffic Director component expands on the delivery capabilities that previous generations of WebLogic have included. Lehmann noted that in the WebLogic 11g release, Oracle bundled in the Coherence caching server. With the new WebLogic 12c release, there is a new software load balancer called the Oracle Traffic Director.

"What we've done with the Oracle Traffic Director is we've put a software load balancer for traffic routing, shaping and capacity management on the Exalogic system for the WebLogic server," Lehmann said. "When a WebLogic 12c deployment grows or shrinks, the system automatically adjusts the network traffic for the environment to gracefully bring on or reduce load."

The Exalogic Elastic Cloud is an engineered system from Oracle that debuted at the end of 2010. The Exalogic is purpose-built engineered system for Java and Oracle middleware applications. Lehmann stressed that while WebLogic 12c is highly optimized when running on Exalogic, it will also run across other x86 systems.

"As you move from conventional systems to an engineered system like Exalogic we do further performance optimizations and integration," Lehmann said. "For a conventional server this is a standard web tier that is included with WebLogic, when you go to Exalogic you get Oracle Traffic Director."

The WebLogic 12c release is also the first WebLogic release since Oracle acquired Sun, which has its own Java middleware server with the open source GlassFish project that Oracle still supports and develops. Lehmann explained that applications on GlassFish can be easily redeployed to WebLogic 12c, to get the benefit of additional enterprise and cloud scale features. Those additional features include support for Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters), virtualization support, Oracle Traffic Director and the Coherence integration among other capabilities.

"GlassFish is a fantastic development environment and now with WebLogic 12c and its support for JavaEE 6 and Java SE 7, WebLogic is also a great development environment," Lehmann said. "Another point of differentiation is that Fusion middleware and applications are certified on WebLogic; they are not certified or support on GlassFish."

GlassFish is all about helping to drive the JavaEE specification forward, although it is also its own product that has Oracle commercial support.

"Generally for more robust and higher-end deployment, people will generally look to WebLogic," Lehmann said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Friday Dec 2nd 2011
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