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J2EE Journal: Article

10 Benefits of Migrating to WebSphere Application Server v5.0

Accelerate each phase of the 'build, run, manage' life cycle

As the gap increases between technology innovation and the constricted capabilities of inherited legacy systems, many organizations are evaluating the costs and benefits of migrating their infrastructures and enterprise applications to new generations of Web-based infrastructure technologies. Expanded abilities to accelerate the introduction of new services and reduce administrative overhead are important factors in the migration equation.

This article explores 10 fundamental benefits of migrating to IBM WebSphere Application Server (WAS) v5.0. Organizations can, for example, use WAS v5.0 to capitalize on open J2EE standards, as well as simplify development and deployment to expand their e-business capabilities. Migration also allows existing applications to harness new application server functionality and technology. A properly planned migration to WAS v5.0 can quickly yield return on investment (ROI) while providing organizations with the agility to quickly use IT to support new business services.

Benefit 1: Support Enterprise Java Open Standards
Today's enterprises typically include a number of disparate systems loosely linked by a series of vendor-specific and customized technologies. These systems and applications are unable to communicate efficiently with one another due to a lack of well-defined interfaces for application communication, and data interchange. Open standards such as J2EE are critical to standardizing and streamlining the ability of information to be shared among multiple environments.

J2EE 1.3 is an open, platform-independent, standards-based enterprise development platform. New J2EE 1.3 capabilities include additional open standards - such as Web services standards - to enhance scalability, flexibility, and manageability.

WAS v5.0 supports open standards via the J2EE 1.3 specification. Application developers, integrators, and designers using J2EE 1.3 are freed from the limitations imposed by a proprietary platform from a single vendor. A J2EE-based solution can be deployed on any J2EE-compliant application server. For example, organizations using J2EE can share information more easily with multiple departments and trading partners. The result is increased operational efficiency and a 360-degree view of customer activities across all lines of business.

Incidentally, the J2EE 1.4 specification was finalized in November 2003 and will be implemented in WAS v6.0. It is currently available as an early-access technology for developers.

Benefit 2: Ensure Forward Compatibility
Prior to J2EE 1.2, J2EE specifications did not ensure forward compatibility. The Java Community Process, the J2EE standards organization, has since ensured that all future J2EE updates will include migration capabilities. Future compatibility for J2EE is important because it enables organizations to protect and build on their technology investments without the concern that their IT infrastructures will become outdated and require a painful migration to a completely new J2EE environment.

Standardizing enterprise applications on a single version of J2EE (1.3 or later) will ensure forward compatibility and provide a technology foundation on which to build. Although such an initial migration may be resource intensive, subsequent updates will provide significant return on users' Java technology investments. Once the migration is complete, subsequent migrations are simply automated through the WAS v5.0 administrative console.

Benefit 3: Expand Development and Maintenance Capabilities
WAS v5.0 also provides simplified and expanded development and maintenance capabilities. Specifically, WebSphere Studio Application Developer v5.1 has replaced VisualAge for Java as the development tool for J2EE applications. Built on the open source Eclipse platform, WebSphere Studio enables open standards-based and scalable software development.

WebSphere Studio includes built-in source control management through its support for team development tools, such as the open source Concurrent Versioning System (CVS) and IBM Rational ClearCase software configuration management application. Further, the model-driven development capabilities of WebSphere Studio include plug-ins for Rational XDE Professional that enable developers to make graphical models of their software. Graphical modeling tools can help minimize code rewriting during development via code generation, reverse engineering, and code-to-model synchronization capabilities.

Moreover, unlike VisualAge for Java, WebSphere Studio supports 100% J2EE development and deployment. WebSphere Studio provides a number of features that enable IT teams to accelerate development. Assembly tools and deployment descriptor editors enable development teams to create and modify deployment parameters and Enterprise Archives (EARs) from within the WebSphere Studio integrated development environment. WebSphere Studio also allows application debugging on remote application servers, which greatly accelerates development. It now also includes an agent controller and a Java profiling agent that enables application performance profiling through the Java Virtual Machine Profiling Interface (JVMPI).

The combination of WAS v5.0 and WebSphere Studio provides enhanced development and maintenance of next-generation applications. By tapping into the latest innovations provided by the J2EE 1.3 specification, WAS v5.0 provides greater control for application development, deployment, and performance.

Benefit 4: Streamline Deployment
Typically, the complexities of deployment have rested with application server administrators. By virtue of its support for J2EE, WAS v5.0 allows all application components to be packaged into a single EAR, which can be deployed on multiple WAS v5.0 instances. This capability allows organizations to realize the "write once, deploy anywhere" promise of J2EE.

Benefit 5: Strengthen Information Security
WAS v5.0 strengthens the management and implementation of organizations' information security safeguards by providing built-in support for authentication, authorization, and identity management. Authentication enables IT managers to confirm the identity of a user, typically by matching submitted username and password information with the user's stored credentials. After the authentication stage, each user is granted access to a specific set of files, databases, services, or administrative privileges based on an individual profile. Identity management software is used to automate and manage information security administrative tasks such as resetting user passwords. Enabling users to reset their own passwords, for example, reduces IT administration requirements while maintaining a high level of security.

WAS v5.0 authentication support includes the Java Authentication and Authorization Service and the Java Cryptography Extension. Additionally, Tivoli Access Manager (a.k.a. Tivoli Policy Director) provides a single source for sitewide authentication. Identity management standards supported in WAS v5.0 include Security Assertion Markup Language, Kerberos, and XML digital signatures. Further, WAS v5.0 supports Web services security specifications. The World Wide Web Consortium's WS-Security specification for Standard Object Access Protocol extensions enhances confidentiality and integrity for applications using Web services. WAS v5.0 allows for next-generation, build-to-integrate, and secure enterprise applications.

Benefit 6: Improve Productivity
WAS v5.0 - through built-in, programmable adapter technology - allows for rapid development and deployment of applications for Web services and other enterprise messaging. WAS v5.0 provides users with the ability to deploy Web services across multiple communication protocols, such as HTTP, JMS, or Java Remote Method Invocation/Internet Inter-Orb Protocol. Multiple adapters enable IT teams to realize the promise of Java's "write once, run anywhere" capabilities by enabling J2EE enterprise applications to seamlessly interconnect with myriad Java technologies and protocols. This enables organizations to work completely in the Java environment, thereby sidestepping enterprise infrastructure compatibility problems and virtually eliminating the requirement for custom coding.

WebSphere Studio development tools such as the Application Developer and the Enterprise Developer leverage the open source Eclipse framework and help integrate third-party packages and vendor tools. In turn, IT staffs are able to increase their productivity by using their preferred tools via Eclipse.

WAS v5.0 also supports content-based routing, load balancing, and distribution to achieve end-to-end optimization of applications. When combined with WebSphere Studio tools to help facilitate faster development, WAS v5.0 yields faster time-to-market and increased ROI.

Benefit 7: Gain Continued WebSphere Support
IBM ended support for WAS v3.5 in Q4 2002 and support for VisualAge for Java in 2003. Organizations that continue their operations on WAS v3.5 could face the additional risk of not having IBM expertise available to support their business operations. Migration to WAS v5.0 guarantees IBM support, along with compatibility with associated third-party tools and vendor packages. Migration also enhances connectivity to trading partners, customers, and vendors using the latest standards and technologies.

Benefit 8: Extend the Enterprise
Organizations that have the WAS v5.0 enterprise extensions will be better positioned to support service-oriented architectures (SOAs). Simply stated, SOAs enable organizations to link software components to create new business applications such as an application for processing customer orders. A key advantage of SOAs, however, is that developers are not required to spend inordinate amounts of time writing new code to create new business processes. Rather, developers use standard protocols such as Web services to connect components in order to build new applications.

All versions of WAS v5.0 (Express, Base, Network Deployment, and Enterprise) support Web services deployment. The WAS v5.0 Network Deployment and Enterprise versions also provide a Web services gateway, as well as a private Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration registry.

The support for Web services-based SOAs includes process choreography and application profiling. Exposing existing processes to an enterprise is a challenging and difficult task. Entering the enterprise arena following migration to WAS v5.0, by contrast, is a simple, automated process achieved through standard wizards and code generators.

Benefit 9: Flexible Management Capabilities
WAS v5.0 introduces a new administration model that includes a Web-based interface that administrators can manage from any Web browser - providing more flexible management capabilities. Neither a client applet install nor a dedicated machine is required for administration. Moreover, unlike earlier versions of WAS, all configurations are stored in XML files instead of proprietary repositories, which makes configuration transparent. The plain-text, self-describing XML configurations can be modified outside the WAS administration console and easily replicated to other WAS v5.0 installations.

Developers can also use additional tools to incorporate application and network management in the J2EE development environment via WAS v5.0 support for Java Management Extensions (JMX). An optional extension to the standard Java Developer Kit, JMX can be used in place of SNMP. A key benefit is JMX's ability to facilitate the centralized management of J2EE objects and provide added structure to include performance management early in the development process.

WAS v5.0 also provides the wsadmin scripting framework for easy access to server administration features. Based on the open source Bean Scripting Framework, WebSphere Application Server's wsadmin feature allows for the automation of many daily administrative tasks, which frees administrators to focus on other activities such as application and deployment optimization.

Benefit 10: Enhance Reliability, Scalability, and Availability
WAS v5.0 uses cluster and workload dynamics to provide a high level of scalability, availability, and reliability. Its components and configurations will support the ability to deploy high-performance Web environments. To eliminate a single point of failure, organizations can facilitate clustering by using the dispatcher and content-based routing components, multitier load balancing, and Edge Side Includes caching. Further, WAS v5.0 includes a security server and a name server in every application server process to increase the protection of information.

Conclusion
Organizations are continually driving their IT departments to extend their capabilities in order to support expanded business requirements. IT departments, however, are increasingly challenged to enhance e-business capabilities with fewer resources.

Given IT's critical link to supporting business operations, it is essential that organizations use infrastructures that integrate with existing systems yet have the agility to support new technologies. WAS v5.0 provides organizations with the open J2EE capabilities and myriad enhancements that enable IT teams to accelerate each phase of the "build, run, manage" life cycle.

Resources

  • Beaton, W. (2003). Migrating to IBM WebSphere Application Server, Part I: Designing Software for Change: www-900.ibm.com/websphere/techjournal/0107_beaton/index_eng.shtml
  • Chalmers, D., et al. (2003). A Quick Guide for Migrating to WebSphere Application Server V5: www-900.ibm.com/developerWorks/cn/wsdd/library/techarticles/0304_chalmers/chalmers_eng.shtml
  • Eeles, P., et al. (2003). Building J2EE Applications with the Rational Unified Process. Addison-Wesley Pearson.
  • Wahli, U., et al. (2003). WebSphere Studio Application Developer Version 5 Programming Guide: http://publib-b.boulder.ibm.com/Redbooks.nsf/RedbookAbstracts/sg246957.html?Open
  • Yu, S., et al. (2003). Migrating to WebSphere V5.0, An End-to-End Migration Guide: http://publib-b.boulder.ibm.com/Redbooks.nsf/RedbookAbstracts/sg246910.html?Open
  • More Stories By Thina Natarajan

    Thina Natarajan is a principal solution architect for the Application Infrastructure Management (AIM) group at Candle Corp. Natarajan optimizes IT architecture, development, and deployment phases for global clients. He has recently been focusing on J2EE performance tuning best practices.

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