Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

Failover and Recovery of Enterprise Applications - Part 1

High availability - moving beyond clustering

In enterprise application architecture, it is naïve to assume that none of the software/hardware components will go down. In fact, most of the IT managers and architects acknowledge this. However, a well-tested and robust recovery procedure continues to take a back seat when designing and implementing software projects. In several scenarios, administrators end up performing basic failover testing by shutting down the processes and verifying that the subsequent requests succeeded.

Although this level of testing can satisfy the failover requirements for the records, more robust failover testing needs to be performed to ensure a proper recovery if failures do occur. One of the primary reasons for the lack of robust recovery and well-tested procedures can be attributed to a high degree of reliance on the application server's in-built failover capabilities. While it is true that most of the popular application servers boost their clustering and associated high-availability features, it is equally important that system architects need to go beyond those features for an end-to-end high availability of the application. This article suggests how good planning, robust scripting, and a well- thought-out application design, along with application server facilities, can provide a highly available environment for the entire application. In the first article in a series of three, I will cover the basic high-availability options available while deploying a J2EE application on WebLogic Server.

Before diving into specifics, it is important to understand some of the commonly used terms when one talks about high-availability.

High Availability - So, what does high availability really mean? From a user's point of view, it means an application that is always available to perform the user's transactions. In other words, even though one or more of the back-end system becomes unavailable, the application may be architected in such a manner that these failures are not visible to the end user. High availability is a relative term - for some applications, there is high availability only if the site is never down - or zero downtime. For some applications it should be available, without interruptions - during the normal business operations. How and when a system is called highly available is typically defined by SLA - Service Level Agreements. Each organization may have its own system level agreements for the nonavailability of the applications during certain maintenance windows.

Transparent Failover - A highly available system does not necessarily imply that failover is always transparent. In other words, when one of the components within the application fails, the subsequent requests get routed to other available servers, thereby making it highly available. However it is possible for users to lose their sessions. There may even be a loss of data during the failure and things of that nature. In these cases, even though the system is available for subsequent requests, none of the above scenarios truly represents a transparent failover within an enterprise application.

Fault Tolerance - Fault tolerance is the system's ability to keep the system available and maintain data consistency in case of failure in one or more of its software components.

Clustering - Perhaps the most common term used in conjunction with HA, clustering is essentially a service provided by application servers in which multiple servers run as a group. The clustering service is responsible for load balancing the user requests and also for rerouting the incoming traffic to available servers should one of the servers in the cluster become unavailable.

Recovery - The ability of the system to recover itself from a failure condition as well as to bring the state of the objects into their pre-failure condition.

Failure Points
In an enterprise application, there are several points of failure - both within each individual component and at integration touch points with other components and interfaces. As the number of interfaces increases, the failover and recovery procedures become increasingly complex due to interdependencies involved. Although each component within the application may have recovery procedures for itself, the problem arises when one component or a combination of components within the system fails simultaneously.

So, a first step in designing a highly available enterprise system is identifying all of the possible permutations and combinations of failure points within the system. The identification process should involve all of the components within the system - application, network, hardware, and database - each and every component involved. As one begins to create such a matrix, it becomes overly complicated as the number of components and products that are mixing increases. This article will serve to focus failover and recovery of components and applications within the WebLogic Platform.

WebLogic Platform
WebLogic Server - WebLogic Server provides a number of J2EE services that include Java Messaging Service (JMS), Transactions (JTS/JTA) and Security, Servlet Engine, EJB container, and so forth. When designing enterprise applications for high availability it is crucial that architects have a good understanding of how these services failover when one of the instances hosting them goes down. A thorough understanding of the failover and recovery procedures of these services is also critical in automating the recovery of a downed instance or a system.

Clustering Overview - Perhaps no discussion on WLS high availability is complete without touching on WebLogic Clustering. An application that is deployed homogenously in a cluster is generally highly available. When one of the server instances goes down, the request is routed to the other available server in the cluster. In fact, the concept of the cluster is not new to J2EE architects and WebLogic Server administrators. Readers of this article are encouraged to review the WebLogic Server clustering documentation (http://e-docs.bea.com/wls/docs81/cluster/index.html). Essentially, most of the services provided by WebLogic can be categorized as either clusterable (i.e., multiple instances of these run on different services on multiple servers), or nonclusterable (there may be multiple instances of these services configured, but only one is active at a given time within the cluster). More information on which services can be clustered is provided in WebLogic Server documentation. Table 1 lists the clustered and nonclustered services in WebLogic Platform 8.1.

More Stories By Sudhir Upadhyay

Sudhir Upadhyay is currently with Architecture and Shared services at JP Morgan Chase where he is an application architect. Prior to joining JPMorgan, he was a principal consultant with BEA Professional Services where he helped customers design and implement enterprise J2EE solutions. He is a BEA Certified WebLogic Developer and a Sun Certified Java Developer.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Thirunavukarasu 02/04/06 06:31:00 AM EST

A neatly explained technical atricle. Very useful, very crisp. Thanks .

Viktor Lioutyi 08/12/05 10:34:27 AM EDT

Hi,

How to test failover in automatic manner?

"In several scenarios, administrators end up performing basic failover testing by shutting down the processes and verifying that the subsequent requests succeeded.

Although this level of testing can satisfy the failover requirements for the records, more robust failover testing needs to be performed to ensure a proper recovery if failures do occur."

We did the manual testing and failover worked. But we would like to do automatic testing of failover to make sure that it works for all our 1000+ pages. BEA does not have any tool for such testing.

There are different reasons why someone may want to test all pages for failover.

1) WebLogic only replicates attributes that were modified. Call of session's setAttribute() method is an indication for WebLogic that attribute was modified. This call may be done explicitly or implicitly when jsp tags are used. It is possible that on some pages members of complex attributes were modified but WebLogic was not notified about it, so it will not replicate such attributes.

2) Complex attributes may reference other objects and attributes. After replication these references may be broken. For example, attribute A and B references object C. Only attribute A was modified, so only A will be replicated. After the replication A and B may point to different copies of C and program may not work correctly anymore.

3) Some objects are assumed to be singletons. Developer needs to provide special implementation for serialization to support replication of singleton objects. If this implementation is omitted, then replication may create copies of a singleton object.

4) Transient fields are not going to be replicated but there should be a recovery code that restores values of these fields after replication. Without testing we do not know if all our recovery code works correctly or not.

There are probably other reasons too.

Does anybody know about any tool for automatic testing of failover (or at least just session replication) for WebLogic and/or WebSphere?

Thanks,
Viktor

@ThingsExpo Stories
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit y...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will discuss the vast to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu, a leading provider of cloud hosting solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to foc...
SYS-CON Events announced today the How to Create Angular 2 Clients for the Cloud Workshop, being held June 7, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified. Now it’s a component-based well-performing framework. The immersive one-day workshop led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 24Notion has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. 24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to con...
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT's direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
SYS-CON Events announced today BZ Media LLC has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and Commercial Drone markets.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...