ABIS Infor - 2012-01

WebSphere Application Server from 6.1 to 7 or to 8

Koen De Backer (ABIS) - 10 February 2012


Companies will have to decide to migrate their WAS infrastructures. The question is will such a migration bring improvements for the existing application load, and if so what type of application load will benefit? Should a migration to the next level of WAS be considered or a migration to a completely different run time platform?

The latest version of WAS delivers new, practical, good features that will let you decide to go for improvement of infrastructure and stay with a very flexible server engine with an footprint adapted to the companies application load.

Flexible management and topology extensions in Version 7

WebSphere Application Server 7 introduced quite some new features that can prove to be useful in an enterprise deploying a WAS infrastructure of considerable scale and set up in distributed hub and spoke topology.

Typical examples of these features are:

  • administrative agent
  • administrative services from the standalone server are consolidated into the admin agent; this allows for the use of a single control point for multiple standalone servers
  • flexible management
  • designed to facilitate administration of a large number of WebSphere Application Server base edition and Network Deployment topologies that might be geographically distributed (job manager)
  • business-level applications
  • managing application artifacts independent of packaging or programming models.
  • properties-based configuration
  • multiple security domains within a single WebSphere Application Server cell
  • run time provisioning
  • only a subset of run time components activate when the application server starts up.

Focus on efficiency and prioritizing the flexibility of footprint

WebSphere Application Server 8 consolidates these new ideas implemented in Version 7 and further works on the availability of a smooth and lean WebSphere Application Server. Already begun in Version 7, the instruments to set up and work with a small footprint server are further refined and eventually will result in the availability of a very flexible server engine the will adapt its behaviour and resource consumption to the needs of the applications being deployed and run. Apart from that you get a major revision of the IBM JVM running at the core of the server.

One major new innovation that is in the pipeline (planned as Version 8.5) is the WAS Liberty Profile which will also be available for z/OS and Linux on zEnterprise. The Liberty Profile is tiny: the download is around 30 MB. It starts quickly and consumes very little memory. Of course, anything that can run on the Liberty Profile can also run on WebSphere Application Server, that is because the Liberty Profile is WAS, but with as-needed/where-needed function delivery, depending on your application's requirements.

Version 8 in a nutshell

The Version 8 of WebSphere Application Server will make sure WAS can support a wide range of Java applications in an appropriate way. As few resources as possible get wasted, with as little functionality overhead as possible. If the applications you deploy are web only, the WAS server you run will only load Webcontainer services. In this way WebSphere Application Server Version 8 by consolidating the infrastructural extensions of Version 7 and further refining the modularity and flexibility of the engine, can be a cornerstone in application infrastructure for companies with varying demands, ranging from not to complex web focused applications to more complex applications using the EJB functionality and the bridging functionality of the Internal Bus. High availability and good integration with diverse types of backends is an optional bonus.

Useful hints

  • The WebSphere Application Server software lifecycle mentions 30 Sep 2012 as "end of support date" for Version 6.1.x.
  • Version comparison, all details per version and migration options can be found at the IBM Support site: knowledge collection http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27008724.
  • A sound basic knowledge and the necessary basic skill can be acquired by participating in the ABIS courses on WebSphere Application Server.