BEA seeks to modularize app server

Services would be deployable separately under plan now in conceptual stage

April 3, 2006—BEA Systems is working to modularize services from its WebLogic Server application server, enabling them to run independently with open source frameworks.

Known as "backplane," the modularization technology would make available separate from the application server functions such as Web services, JMS (Java Message Service) support and JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) pooling, said Gary McBride, BEA senior product marketing manager. Speaking at the BEA Dev2DevDays2006 technical event, McBride noted the technology is in the conceptual stage. He said he was unaware if backplane would be featured in the planned next major release of the application server, WebLogic Server 10.

Currently, the application server presents an all-or-nothing scenario pertaining to its services, McBride said. "It's a pretty hefty footprint," he said. The backplane effort would provide flexibility in deploying WebLogic services, he said.

McBride did not know if BEA would make its services available for use with other companies' application servers but cited open source frameworks as one deployment option. Services could be mixed and matched in a variety of platforms.

Also at the event, BEA officials said the company would release a module enabling the open source Apache Tomcat Web container to be administered via BEA's own WebLogic Server 9.0 console framework.

The module, referred to as WebLogic Console for Tomcat Server, will provide improved administration for Tomcat, McBride said. It requires that users already have WebLogic Server.

"It provides, frankly, better administrative control over Tomcat than does the Tomcat administrative tool," McBride said. Users, for example, will be able to manage multiple instances of Tomcat from a single point and get information on factors such as aggregated performance and logging.

BEA stressed during the event that WebLogic Server is more heavy-duty than Tomcat and features enterprise-level performance.

"Tomcat is a Web container and it's a good one, but WebLogic provides you a lot more than just a Web container," said James Sherburne, director of product marketing at BEA.

During the Dev2DevDays2006 session, McBride advised against developers overdoing it with Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) Web application development technology.

"A little bit of JavaScript is a good thing," but it cannot be added to everything, McBride said.

Ajax has weaknesses such as a lack of debugging tools for JavaScript, he said.

Paul Krill is editor at large at InfoWorld.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.