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Adding Self-Detection and Auto-Optimization to the WebLogic 8.1 Platform

A different approach to problem solving and optimization

Another problem that enterprises are facing is that extensive time and effort are required to align SOA/J2EE applications and WebLogic Servers for optimum performance. Currently, tuning WebLogic is considered an art and not science. Although more and more people are becoming familiar with it, the tuning process "tune one thing, see the impact, and repeat until balanced configuration is achieved," still remains an extremely time-consuming and laborious task. Because performance tuning is so complex, many enterprises are running WebLogic with configurations that are not fully optimal. Another factor to keep in mind here is that WebLogic tuning is extremely fragile. Every time you change you application you can throw the whole environment completely off balance, and previously tuned configurations may not be optimum due to the recent change to the application. I compare WebLogic tuning to the analogy of car wheels. Every time you change car tires you need to do a few other things such as wheel alignment, balancing, etc. to get the best performance. Similarly in the case of WebLogic, every time there is a change in the application, WebLogic and the application both need to be realigned to get the optimum performance. During my experience in the field I often got this response: "We did tuning last year, it should still be good, right?" Well if nothing changed in the environment and application then that is true, but with today's constantly changing business requirements, applications and environments change more often than once a year. With every change you should evaluate the performance impact. It may be that not all changes require change in WebLogic or application configuration, but at the very least every change should be looked at from a performance standpoint.

AutoPilot comes to the rescue for WebLogic tuning and capacity determination. AutoPilot changes WebLogic tuning from an extremely complex task to on that entails just a few clicks. AutoPilot automates the proven WebLogic tuning process using its IntelliTune technology built upon AutoPilot's inherent knowledge and decision-making capabilities. With AutoPilot, the process of tuning WebLogic remains the same - it's just that AutoPilot does all of the work of running loads, analyzing performance, making appropriate changes, and restarting WebLogic Server whenever needed. AutoPilot uses a user-provided load-generation script and runs various scenarios on the WebLogic application. It analyzes the application and WebLogic behavior during each load. At the end of each load and analysis, AutoPilot makes appropriate adjustments to the right tunables. After adjustments it reruns the load and compares. It follows this process until a perfect balance is achieved. During the tuning process AutoPilot identifies any application bottlenecks. You can start the WebLogic tuning process before you leave for the evening and the next morning you get a perfectly tuned WebLogic. Your involvement in the whole tuning process takes place only during the kickoff. AutoPilot Tune Wizard simplifies the kickoff process to just a few clicks. You can also schedule the kickoff to start tuning at nighttime (or any other time) if needed.

At the end of the tuning, you can view the performance impact using AutoPilot Tuning Analyzers. You get the before and after picture to compare the results of each tuning. Since AutoPilot tunes and detects problem at the WebLogic-engine level, it helps the whole suite of products based on WebLogic Server.

AutoPilot compliments self-tuning capabilities offered by WebLogic 9.0. In my opinion, self-tuning is a step in the right direction, but it will take time to mature. Dynamically changing the settings in production can cause unforeseen conditions and can result in outages. Until enterprises get comfortable with dynamically changing the settings in production, AutoPilot will help auto-tune applications and WebLogic in preproduction environments. This way you are pushing a well-tuned configuration to production and not doing tuning in production. Even in the future when self-tuning matures and enterprises become comfortable with self-tuning, it would make sense to use self-tuning features only as "traction control" or "stability assist," i.e., go to production with a well-tuned configuration and let self-tuning help in certain conditions not accounted for in preproduction tuning.

In a nutshell, AutoPilot compliments WebLogic 8.1, the most widely used version of WebLogic in production, with well-sought-after capabilities. Key differentiators for AutoPilot are its intelligence that is built upon many person years worth of embedded expert knowledge, the way AutoPilot leverages that to streamline the root-cause analysis and WebLogic tuning process, proactive guidance, and how AutoPilot results in significant reduction in total cost of ownership for the BEA WebLogic Platform.

More Stories By Deepak Batra

Deepak Batra has more than 15 years of wide-range experience in the IT industry. He is the founder and CEO of Arcturus Technologies, Inc. Prior to co-founding Arcturus, Deepak worked as an architect with BEA for more than five years. In this capacity he led and managed various strategic initiatives at Fortune 500 companies and helped them craft enterprise solutions that leverage state-of-the-art technologies. Prior to BEA, he provided IT Advisory services to various fortune 500 companies for many years. He has worked closely with customers and understands their requirements first hand.

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