WebSphere Application Server 8 Brings Easier Install
April 19, 2011 Alex Woodie
A new installation framework in the forthcoming WebSphere Application Server (WAS) version 8 will provide customers with faster load times and simpler implementations of Java applications. WAS version 8, which IBM plans to ship the third week of June, also offers support for Java version 6. For IBM i shops, WAS version 8 marks the first release of the middleware that doesn’t work with the old Java virtual machine.
For many years, “WebSphere” was a four-letter word to IBM i shops, who found the Web application environment slow, expensive, and a burden to use compared to the RPG environment they were accustomed to. Today, there are still those IBM i shops who avoid WebSphere like the plague, but the aversion to WebSphere seems to be thawing. For those who determine the Apache Web environment is just too lightweight, and for those who need the specialized application, programming, or integration capabilities that WebSphere can provide, the IBM middleware environment is a good option.
There isn’t any single big attention-grabbing enhancement in WAS 8. Rather, version 8 is more a collection of iterative enhancements and refinements. Simplified installation of the WebSphere environment, as well as easier roll-out of Java applications within WebSphere, is near the top of the list of refinements.
The new IBM Installation Manager that ships with WAS 8 should simplify the installation and maintenance process. WAS 8 should load much more quickly from startup as a result of the Installation Manager, which IBM has used with other products. According to IBM’s April 5 announcement, the tool also gives administrators greater granularity in the installation of WAS components, plug-ins, and language packs. Multi-platform deployments should also be easier.
Installing, updating, and uninstalling Java apps should also be easier thanks to a new directory-based process. Administrators also gain a new live folder that should make it very simple to transition Java apps from test to production.
Other features in WAS 8 include better logging, the capability to deactivate WebSphere MQ functionality within WAS when message queue functionality is not being used; continued adherence to programming standards, such as Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) version 6, Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) 3.1, Java Persistence API (JPA) version 2, Java Servlet 3; and support for mobile devices, such as the iPad, iPhone, Droid, and BlackBerry.
WAS 8 also offers support for the latest Java development tools, as exemplified by IBM Java SDK 6.0.
IBM i shops will also need to upgrade their Java tooling to the latest supported products, if they haven’t already done so. In an IBM i environment, WAS 8 will only work with the IBM Technology for Java Virtual Machine on IBM i 6.1 or 7.1. It will not work with the older IBM Java Developer Kit for IBM i, also called the “classic” JVM, which was 64-bit and developed exclusively for the nuances of IBM i. The new JVM, which is based on the AIX version of the JVM and runs in PASE, is available in 32-bit and 64-bit environments.
IBM is in the process of updating several other WebSphere products. And by several, IBM means about 50, including such WebSphere classics as: Workload Deployer; Virtual Enterprise; DataPower XC10 Appliance; CICS Transaction Server for z/OS; Extended Deployment Compute Grid; and Application Accelerator.
IBM also announced that it has 100,000 WAS customers around the world. It highlighted some of the WebSphere work done by Caterpillar, which has traditionally been a big user of IBM AS/400 gear, along with its vast dealer network.