Upgrading WebLogic - Which Version to Choose?
By mlehmann on Oct 16, 2008
In the last few months since the acquisition of BEA, WebLogic product management have been seeing many WebLogic Server and Oracle Internet Application Server (Oracle iAS) customers and a very natural question that arises, after they understand the strategy laid out by Oracle here on July 1, is which version of WebLogic Server should I work with?
I generally answer this question with a question and then some detail from the resulting answer. The question is: What application server are you using right now and what version?
If the answer is WebLogic Server and the release is 8.x through 10.x, the answer is pretty simple. It may seem gratuitously simple but I will give the concrete reasons why it is so simple. The answer is WebLogic Server 10.3 - the latest release put out in August.
Why you ask? The answer is not only because it is the latest release and most mature (a non dot zero release) but additionally WebLogic Server 10.3 has these characteristics:
a. Fusion Middleware 10gR3 Support. All of Oracle Fusion Middleware (OFM) 10gR3 pre-BEA-aquisition is in the midst of being certified on WebLogic 10.3. The end result intent is by first half calendar year 2009 (and many pieces before end of year 2008), to have almost all of OFM 10gR3 certified on it. This generally will mean that all of OFM 10gR3 is certified on both WebLogic Server 10.3 and Oracle iAS 10gR3 and Oracle WebLogic Server 10gR3
b. BEA Product Line Support. All of the AquaLogic (Service Bus, Enterprise Repository, User Interaction etc) and WebLogic extended product lines (WebLogic Portal, WebLogic Integration etc) are being certified on WLS 10.3. This is part of the 100 day plan outlined in the Oracle broadcast noted above.
c. Fusion Middleware 11g R1 Planned Support. The intent for Oracle Fusion Middleware 11gR1 which now is primarily a major release of the layered components (SOA Suite, WebCenter and others), is for it to be certified on WLS 10.3 with a patchset (Oracle vernacular for what BEA called a Maintenance Pack - had BEA remained, it would be WebLogic Server 10.3MP1)
d. Ease of Upgrade. As WebLogic Server 10.3 is a mature release of the 10 product line, there is significant support for the upgrade itself both in tooling within the product itself and also within the documentation set. Check out the upgrade guide from our documentation for a tour of this.
e. Tooling Support. Not only does WebLogic Server 10.3 have great new support from WebLogic Workshop 10.3 (major new features for Java EE 5.0 and WebLogic Server 10.3 development), the new Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse, we also have just released JDeveloper 11g and TopLink 11g which both have full support for the WebLogic Server 10.3 and very substantial new features (ADF 11g and TopLink JPA on the Coherence Grid)
Independent of technological advances in WebLogic Server 10.3 that are compelling in their own right -- lightweight installer (lay down a WebLogic Server that only is 179M), holder now of all the SPECjAppServer performance world records, new HA features like automatic service migration for JMS, updated Spring support, better Eclipse integration and more -- the centralization of certification of the entire Oracle line of layered products from OFM 10gR3, WebLogic/AquaLogic and OFM 11gR1 on the 10.3 release means it will be a common platform base for many customers. Customers will have a platform upon which a goodly portion, if not all of the combined BEA and Oracle product lines certify on.
If the answer to my question is Oracle iAS 10gR2 or Oracle iAS 10gR3, my response is a little more nuanced. The answer still is WebLogic 10.3, however, my recommendation is to let Oracle do the upgrade for you when OFM 11gR1 come out.
As most know from the Oracle broadcast above, there are two characteristics of iAS 10gR2 and R3 to be aware of:
a. iAS 10gR2 and R3 will continue to have releases going forward of the respective versions. Both patches and enhancements will continue. Most recently Oracle iAS 10.1.3.4 was released covering updates to the core application server and the layered OFM products running on it. In the 10gR2 release, Oracle iAS 10.1.2.4 and 10.1.4.4 are the most recent patchsets. The policy on these releases support is outlined is pretty clear detail in the lifetime support policy statement on Oracle.com
b. OFM 11gR1 will be a based on a core of WebLogic Server with components from Oracle iAS 10gR2 and R3 certified to run on WebLogic Server - think of components like Oracle TopLink, Oracle Coherence, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Oracle BI Discoverer, Oracle HTTP Server and Oracle Web Cache (amongst others).
What do I mean by "let Oracle do the upgrade for you?" What I mean is when OFM 11gR1 comes out, Oracle will have a rich set of upgrade tooling, documentation and best practices designed to help the upgrade both iAS 10gR2 and iAS 10gR3 to OFM 11gR1 just like any other major release of any product we produce. The goal should be to run these versions like you would have pre-BEA - these are proven, supported and continuing to be enhanced releases in their regular lifecycle - and then Oracle will, as part and course of the normal OFM 11 R1 release, help you do the upgrade with proven tooling, documentation and best practices.
Remember all the reasons for aiming at WebLogic Server 10.3 in that upgrade also apply once OFM 11gR1 comes out for Oracle iAS customers. If there are tactical reasons to adopt WebLogic Server early - for example some of your projects have products that only run on WebLogic Server, then the target release ideally would be WebLogic Server 10.3 for the reasons outlined there. There may be reasons - even in the pure WebLogic case where that is not possible - so consider this directional advice versus a firm statement.
Bottom line for advice of this blog -- If you are planning to uptake or upgrade to a version of WebLogic Server: Choose WebLogic Server 10.3 if possible. Try it out. Get an understanding of it as it is the core release we expect and encourage our customers to uptake for current 10gR3 releases and future 11gR1 releases. Of course, depending on your current deployment of Oracle technology, take the path that works best for your business.
More details on this topic as we get close to the OFM 11g R1 release.