BEA going down the modular path

Making different functions of its application server available as individual services is goal of project. Paul Krill reports

BEA Systems is working to modularise services from its WebLogic Server application server, enabling them to run independently with open source frameworks, a company official says.

Known as “backplane”, the modularisation technology would make functions such as web services, JMS (Java Message Service) support and JDBC pooling available separately from the application server, says BEA senior product marketing manager Gary McBride.

He says the technology is in the conceptual stage so was unable to confirm that backplane would be featured in the planned next major release of BEA’s WebLogic Server 10 application server.

Currently, the application server presents an all-or-nothing scenario regarding its services, McBride says. The backplane effort would provide flexibility in deploying WebLogic services, he says.

McBride doesn’t know if BEA will 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, he says.

BEA officials also say the company is due to release a module enabling the open source Apache Tomcat web container to be administered via BEA’s own WebLogic Server 9.0 console framework

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

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

BEA stresses 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 with a lot more than just a web container,” says BEA product marketing director James Sherburne.

At BEA’s recent Dev2DevDays2006 conference, McBride advised against developers over-using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript plus XML) web application development technology.

A little bit of JavaScript is a good thing, but it cannot be added to everything and has weaknesses such as a lack of debugging tools for JavaScript, McBride says.

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