Wednesday Jun 20, 2012

Why should you choose Oracle WebLogic 12c instead of JBoss EAP 6?

In this post, I will present to you some interesting differences between Oracle WebLogic 12c and JBoss EAP 6, which has been just released a couple days ago from Red Hat. This article claims to help you in the evaluation of key points that you should consider when choosing for an Java EE application server. Before you start reading this post, I strongly recommend you the reading of one amazing report created by Crimson Consulting Group, an independent firm that evaluated Oracle WebLogic and JBoss and put their findings on a public, Oracle opinions aside report entitled "Cost of Ownership Analysis | Oracle WebLogic Server Costs versus JBoss Application Server". To get full access to this report, click here. This report should be a nice reading to your CTO and CFO. They will be very satisfied with this reading since most of their work are based on TCO analysis like this:

In the following sections, I will present to you some important technical and non-technical aspects that most customers ask us when they are seriously evaluating for an enterprise middleware infrastructure, specially when they are in doubt about considering JBoss for some reason. I would recommend that you keep the following question in mind while you are reading the overall post: "Why should I choose WebLogic instead of JBoss?"

1) Multi Datacenter Deployment and Clustering

- D/R ("Disaster & Recovery") architecture support is embedded on the WebLogic Server 12c product. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no direct D/R support included, Red Hat relies on third-part tools with higher prices. When you consider a middleware solution to host your business critical application, you should worry with every architectural aspect that are related with the solution. Fail-over support is one little aspect of a truly reliable solution. If you do not worry about D/R, your solution will not be reliable. Having said that, with Red Hat and JBoss EAP 6, you have this extra cost that will increase considerably the total cost of ownership of the solution. As you probably saw in the Crimson Consulting Group report, open-source are not so cheap when you start seeing the big picture.

- WebLogic Server 12c supports advanced LAN clustering, detection of death servers and have a common alert framework. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has limited LAN clustering support with no server death detection, at least, natively from the product. JBoss EAP relies on mod_cluster to provide a decent server death detection. They do not generate any alerts when servers goes down (only if you buy JBoss ON which is a separated technology) and manual intervention are required when servers goes down. In most cases, admin people must rely on "kill -9", "tail -f someFile.log" and "ps ax | grep java" commands to manage failures and clustering anomalies.

- WebLogic Server 12c supports the concept of Node Manager, which is a separated process that runs on the physical | virtual servers that allows extend the administration of the cluster to WebLogic managed servers that are often distributed across multiple machines and geographic locations. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has the concept of "Host Controller" which is a very poor and still in prove JBoss instance manager. As you can see here, here and here, there are a lot of issues that this kind of technology need to correct.

- WebLogic Server 12c Node Manager supports Coherence to boost performance when managing servers. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no similar technology. There is no way to coordinate JBoss and infiniband instances provided by JBoss using high throughput and low latency protocols like InfiniBand. The Node Manager feature also allows another very important feature that JBoss EAP lacks: secure the administration. When using WebLogic Node Manager, all the administration tasks are sent to the managed servers in a secure tunel protected by a certificate, which means that the transport layer that separates the WebLogic administration console from the managed servers are secured by SSL.

- WebLogic Server 12c are now integrated with OTD ("Oracle Traffic Director") which is a web server technology derived from the former Sun iPlanet Web Server. This software complements the web server support offered by OHS ("Oracle HTTP Server"). Using OTD, WebLogic instances are load-balanced by a high powerful software that knows how to handle SDP ("Socket Direct Protocol") over InfiniBand, which boost performance when used with engineered systems technologies like Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand only offers support to Apache Web Server with custom modules created to deal with JBoss clusters, but only across standard TCP/IP networks. 

2) Application and Runtime Diagnostics

- WebLogic Server 12c have diagnostics capabilities embedded on the server called WLDF ("WebLogic Diagnostic Framework") so there is no need to rely on third-part tools. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no diagnostics capabilities. Their only diagnostics tool is the log generated by the application server. Admin people are encouraged to analyse thousands of log lines to find out what is going on.

- WebLogic Server 12c complement WLDF with JRockit MC ("Mission Control"), which provides to administrators and developers a complete insight about the JVM performance, behavior and possible bottlenecks. WebLogic Server 12c also have an classloader analysis tool embedded, and even a log analyzer tool that enables administrators and developers to view logs of multiple servers at the same time. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand relies on third-part tools to do something similar. Again, only log searching are offered to find out whats going on.

- WebLogic Server 12c offers end-to-end traceability and monitoring available through Oracle EM ("Enterprise Manager"), including monitoring of business transactions that flows through web servers, ESBs, application servers and database servers, all of this with high deep JVM analysis and diagnostics. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand, even using JBoss ON ("Operations Network"), which is a separated technology, does not support those features. Red Hat relies on third-part tools to provide direct Oracle database traceability across JVMs. One of those tools are Oracle EM for non-Oracle middleware that manage JBoss, Tomcat, Websphere and IIS transparently.

- WebLogic Server 12c with their JRockit support offers a tool called JRockit Flight Recorder, which can give developers a complete visibility of a certain period of application production monitoring with zero extra overhead. This automatic recording allows you to deep analyse threads latency, memory leaks, thread contention, resource utilization, stack overflow damages and GC ("Garbage Collection") cycles, to observe in real time stop-the-world phenomenons, generational, reference count and parallel collects and mutator threads analysis. JBoss EAP 6 don't even dream to support something similar, even because they don't have their own JVM.

3) Application Server Administration

- WebLogic Server 12c offers a complete administration console complemented with scripting and macro-like recording capabilities. A single WebLogic console can managed up to hundreds of WebLogic servers belonging to the same domain. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has a limited console and provides a XML centric administration. JBoss, after ten years, started the development of a rudimentary centralized administration that still leave a lot of administration tasks aside, so admin people and developers must touch scripts and XML configuration files for most advanced and even simple administration tasks. This lead applications to error prone and risky deployments. Even using JBoss ON, JBoss EAP are not able to offer decent administration features for admin people which must be high skilled in JBoss internal architecture and its managing capabilities.

- Oracle EM is available to manage multiple domains, databases, application servers, operating systems, packaged applications, cloud and virtualization, with a complete end-to-end visibility. JBoss ON does not provide management capabilities across the complete architecture, only basic monitoring for the operating system, the JBoss itself and for the JVM. But if you need to trace a business transaction across those layers, you just cannot. They only provide monitoring capabilities, not tracing across layers capabilities.

- WebLogic Server 12c has the same administration model whatever is the topology selected by the customer. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand differentiates between two operational models: standalone-mode and domain-mode, that are not consistent with each other. Depending on the mode used, the administration skill is different.

- WebLogic Server 12c has no point-of-failures processes, and it does not need to define any specialized server. In WebLogic, even when the administration server is down, the managed servers can be started and finished without any constraints. Domain model in WebLogic is available for years (at least ten years or more) and is production proven. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand needs special processes to garantee JBoss integrity, the PC ("Process-Controller") and the HC ("Host-Controller"). Different from WebLogic, the domain model in JBoss is quite new (one year at tops) of maturity, and need to mature considerably until start doing things like WebLogic domain model does.

- WebLogic Server 12c supports parallel deployment model which enables some artifacts being deployed at the same time. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand does not have any similar feature. Every deployment are done atomically in the containers. This means that if you have a huge EAR (an EAR of 120 MB of size for instance) and deploy onto JBoss EAP 6, this EAR will take some minutes in order to starting accept thread requests. The same EAR deployed onto WebLogic Server 12c will reduce the deployment time at least in 2X compared to JBoss.

4) Support and Upgrades

- WebLogic Server 12c has patch management available. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no patch management available, each JBoss EAP instance should be patched manually. To achieve such feature, you need to buy a separated technology called JBoss ON ("Operations Network") that manage this type of stuff. But until now, JBoss ON does not support JBoss EAP 6 so, in practice, JBoss EAP 6 does not have this feature.

- WebLogic Server 12c supports previuous WebLogic domains without any reconfiguration since its kernel is robust and mature since its creation in 1995. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has a proven lack of supportability between JBoss AS 4, 5, 6 and 7. Different kernels and messaging engines were implemented in JBoss stack in the last five years, reveling their incapacity to create a well architected and proven middleware technology.

- WebLogic Server 12c has patch prescription based on customer configuration. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no such capability. People need to create ticket supports and have their installations revised by Red Hat support guys to gain some patch prescription from them.

- Oracle WebLogic Server independent of the version has 8 years of support of new patches and has lifetime release of existing patches beyond that. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand provides patches for a specific application server version up to 5 years after the release date. JBoss EAP 4 and previous versions had only 4 years. A good question that Red Hat will argue to answer is: "what happens when you find issues after year 5"? 

5) RAC ("Real Application Clusters") Support

- WebLogic Server 12c ships with a specific JDBC driver to leverage Oracle RAC clustering capabilities (Fast-Application-Notification, Transaction Affinity, Fast-Connection-Failover, etc). Oracle JDBC thin driver are also available. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand ships only the standard Oracle JDBC thin driver, which means that load balancing with FCF ("Fast Connection Failover") are not supported. Manual intervention in case of planned or unplanned RAC downtime is necessary. In JBoss EAP 6, situation does not reestablish automatically after downtime.

- WebLogic Server 12c has a feature called Active GridLink for Oracle RAC which provides up to 3X performance on OLTP applications. This seamless integration between WebLogic and Oracle database enable more value added to critical business applications leveraging their investments in Oracle database technology and Oracle middleware. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no performance gains at all, even when admin people implement some kind of connection-pooling tuning.

- WebLogic Server 12c also supports transaction and web session affinity to the Oracle RAC, which provides aditional gains of performance. This is particularly interesting if you are creating a reliable solution that are distributed not only in an LAN cluster, but into a different data center. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no such support.

6) Standards and Technology Support

- WebLogic Server 12c is fully Java EE 6 compatible and production ready since december of 2011. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand became fully compatible with Java EE 6 only in the community version after three months, and production ready only in a few days considering that this article was written in June of 2012. Red Hat says that they are the masters of innovation and technology proliferation, but compared with Oracle and even other proprietary vendors like IBM, they historically speaking are lazy to deliver the most newest technologies and standards adherence.

- Oracle is the steward of Java, driving innovation into the platform from commercial and open-source vendors. Red Hat on the other hand does not have its own JVM and relies on third-part JVMs (ie: OpenJDK) to complete their application server offer. 95% of Red Hat customers are using Oracle HotSpot as JVM, which means that without any Oracle involvement, their support will be limited exclusively to the application server layer and we all know that most problems must be investigated transcending the whole middleware stack, from the application server layer to the JVM layer. Red Hat says that if you use OpenJDK as JVM, they will support you too. But OpenJDK as production JVM are not proven, and most developers relies on Oracle HotSpot to their mission critical systems. Only Oracle can provide you a truly complete stack, offering you not only the middleware stack, but also an complete set of hardware engineered to superior performance and scalability, like Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud.

- WebLogic Server 12c supports natively JDK 7, which empower developers to explore the maximum of the Java platform productivity when writing code. This feature differentiate WebLogic from others application servers (except GlassFish that are also managed by Oracle) because the usage of JDK 7 introduce such remarkable productivity features like the "try-with-resources" enhancement, catching multiple exceptions with one try block, Strings in the switch statements, JVM improvements in terms of JDBC, I/O, networking, security, concurrency and of course, the most important feature of Java 7: native support for multiple non-Java languages. More features regarding JDK 7 can be found here. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has a questionable support for JDK 7. As you can see here, there are few bugs happening when you seriously start using JBoss with JDK 7 implementations.

- Oracle WebLogic Server 12c supports integration with Spring framework allowing Spring applications to use WebLogic special transaction manager, exposing bean interfaces to WebLogic MBeans to take advantage of all WebLogic monitoring and administration advantages. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no special integration with Spring. In fact, Red Hat offers a suspicious package called "JBoss Web Platform" that in theory supports Spring, but in practice this package does not offers any special integration. It is just a facility for Red Hat customers to have support from both JBoss and Spring technology using the same customer support.

7) Lightweight Development

- Oracle WebLogic Server 12c and Oracle GlassFish are completely integrated and can share applications without any modifications. Starting with the 12c version, WebLogic now understands natively GlassFish deployment descriptors and specific configurations in order to offer you a truly and reliable migration path from a community Java EE application server to a enterprise middleware product like WebLogic. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no official and documented support to natively reuse an existing (or still in development) application from JBoss AS community server. Users of JBoss suffer of critical issues during deployment time that includes: changing the libraries and dependencies of the application, patching the DTD or XSD deployment descriptors, refactoring of the application layers due classloading issues and anomalies, rebuilding of persistence, business and web layers due issues with "usage of the certified version of an certain dependency" or "frameworks that Red Hat potentially does not recommend" etc. If you have the culture or enterprise IT directive of developing Java EE applications using community middleware to in a certain future, transition to enterprise (supported by a vendor) middleware, Oracle WebLogic plus Oracle GlassFish offers you a more sustainable solution.

- WebLogic Server 12c has a very light ZIP distribution (less than 165 MB). JBoss EAP 6 ZIP size is around 130 MB, together with JBoss ON you have more 100 MB resulting in a higher download footprint. This is particularly interesting if you plan to use automated setup of application server instances (for example, to rapidly setup a development or staging environment) using Maven or Hudson.

- WebLogic Server 12c has a complete integration with Maven allowing developers to setup WebLogic domains with few commands. Tasks like downloading WebLogic, installation, domain creation, data sources deployment are completely integrated. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has a limited offer integration with those tools. 

- WebLogic Server 12c has a startup mode called WLX that turns-off EJB, JMS and JCA containers leaving enabled only the web container. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no such feature, you need to manually disable the containers if you do not intend to use them. For people that are starting their learning path in the Java EE development, this can be an issue since specific knowledge about the application server configuration will be needed.

- WebLogic Server 12c supports fastswap, which enables you to change classes without redeployment. This is particularly interesting if you are developing patches for the application that is already deployed in the staging environment, and you do not want to redeploy the entire application. This is the same behavior that most application servers offers to JSP pages, but with WebLogic Server 12c, you have the same feature for Java classes in general. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no such support. Even JBoss EAP 5 does not support this until now.

8) JMS and Messaging

- WebLogic Server 12c has a proven and high scalable JMS implementation since its initial release in 1995. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand uses a JMS implementation called HornetQ, which was introduced in JBoss EAP 5 replacing everything that was implemented in the previous versions. Red Hat loves to introduce new technologies across JBoss versions, playing around with customers and their investments. And when they are asked about why they have changed the implementation and caused such a mess, their answer is always: "the previous implementation was inadequate and not aligned with the community strategy so we are creating a new a improved one". This Red Hat practice leads to uncomfortable investments that in a near future (sometimes less than a year) will be affected in someway.

- WebLogic Server 12c has troubleshooting and monitoring features included on the WebLogic console and WLDF. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no direct monitoring on the console, activity is reflected only on the logs, no debug logs available in case of JMS issues.

- WebLogic Server 12c supports messaging enterprise features like SAF ("Store and Forward"), Distributed Queues/Topics and Foreign JMS providers support that leverage JMS implementations without compromise developer code making things completely transparent. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand do not even dream to support such features.

9) Caching and Grid

- Coherence, which is the leading and most mature data grid technology from Oracle, is available since early 2000 and was integrated with WebLogic in 2009. Coherence and WebLogic clusters can be both managed from WebLogic administrative console. Even Node Manager supports Coherence. JBoss on the other hand discontinued JBoss Cache, which was their caching implementation just like they did with the messaging implementation (JBossMQ) which was a issue for long term customers. JBoss EAP 6 ships InfiniSpan, which is immature and has a very limited set of proven use cases, compared with Oracle Coherence that since 2001 created a very comprehensive and successful list of use cases. It is really impressive how Oracle Coherence had prove for the industry how strong it is as a elastic data-grid platform. Take a careful look.

- WebLogic Server 12c has a feature called ActiveCache which uses Coherence to, without any code changes, replicate HTTP sessions from both WebLogic and other application servers like JBoss, Tomcat, Websphere, GlassFish and even Microsoft IIS. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand have and very limited support for this, and they support only their own application server.

- Coherence can be used to manage both L1 and L2 cache levels, providing support to Oracle TopLink and others JPA compliant implementations, even Hibernate. JBoss EAP 6 and Infinispan on the other hand supports only Hibernate. And most important of all: Infinispan does not have any successful case of L1 or L2 caching level support using Hibernate, which lead us to reflect about its viability.

10) Performance

- WebLogic Server 12c is certified with Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud and can run unchanged applications at this engineered system. This approach can benefit customers from Exalogic optimization's of both kernel and JVM layers to boost performance in terms of 10X for web, OLTP, JMS and grid applications. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no investment on engineered systems: customers do not have the choice to deploy on a Java ultra fast system if their project becomes relevant and performance issues are detected.

- WebLogic Server 12c maintains a performance gain across each new release: starting on WebLogic 5.1, the overall performance gain has been close to 4X, which close to a 20% gain release by release. JBoss on the other hand does not provide SPECJAppServer or SPECJEnterprise performance benchmarks. Their so called "performance gains" remains hidden in their customer environments, which lead us to think if it is true or not since we will never get access to those environments.

- WebLogic Server 12c has industry performance benchmarks with submissions across platforms and configurations leading SPECJ. Oracle WebLogic leads SPECJAppServer performance in multiple categories, fitting all customer topologies like: dual-node, single-node, multi-node and multi-node with RAC. JBoss... again, does not provide any SPECJAppServer performance benchmarks.

- WebLogic Server 12c has a feature called work manager which allows your application to embrace new performance levels based on critical resource utilization of the CPUs usage. Work managers prioritizes work and allocates threads based on an execution model that takes into account administrator-defined parameters and actual run-time performance and throughput. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand has no compared feature and probably they never will. Not supporting such feature like work managers, JBoss EAP 6 forces admin people and specially developers to uncover performance gains in a intrusive way, rewriting the code and doing performance refactorings.

11) Professional Services Support

- WebLogic Server 12c and any other technology sold by Oracle give customers the possibility of hire OCS ("Oracle Consulting Services") to manage critical scenarios, deployment assistance of new applications, high skilled consultancy of architecture, best practices and people allocation together with customer teams. All OCS services are available without any restrictions, having the customer bought software from Oracle or just starting their implementation before any acquisition. JBoss EAP 6 or Red Hat to be more specifically, only offers professional services if you buy subscriptions from them. If you are developing a new critical application for your business and need the help of Red Hat for a serious issue or architecture decision, they will probably say: "OK... I can help you but after you buy subscriptions from me". Red Hat also does not allows their professional services consultants to manage environments that uses community based software. They will probably force you to first buy a subscription, download their "enterprise" version and them, optionally hire their consultants.

- Oracle provides you our university to educate your team into our technologies, including of course specialized trainings of WebLogic application server. At any time and location, you can hire Oracle to train your team so you get trustful knowledge according to your specific needs. Certifications for the products are also available if your technical people desire to differentiate themselves as professionals. Red Hat on the other hand have a limited pool of resources to train your team in their technologies. Basically they are selling training and certification for RHEL ("Red Hat Enterprise Linux") but if you demand more specialized training in JBoss middleware, they will probably connect you to some "certified" partner localized training since they are apparently discontinuing their education center, at least here in Brazil. They were not able to reproduce their success with RHEL education to their middleware division since they need first sell the subscriptions to after gives you specialized training. And again, they only offer you specialized training based on their enterprise version (EAP in the case of JBoss) which means that the courses will be a quite outdated. There are reports of developers that took official training's from Red Hat at this year (2012) and in a certain JBoss advanced course, Red Hat supposedly covered JBossMQ as the messaging subsystem, and even the printed material provided was based on JBossMQ since the training was created for JBoss EAP 4.3.

12) Encouraging Transparency without Ulterior Motives

- WebLogic Server 12c like any other software from Oracle can be downloaded any time from anywhere, you should only possess an OTN ("Oracle Technology Network") credential and you can download any enterprise software how many times you want. And is not some kind of "trial" version. It is the official binaries that will be running for ever in your data center. Oracle does not encourages the usage of "specific versions" of our software. The binaries you buy from Oracle are the same binaries anyone in the world could download and use for testing and personal education. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand are not available for download unless you buy a subscription and get access to the Red Hat enterprise repositories. If you need to test, learn or just start creating your application using Red Hat's middleware software, you should download it from the community website. You are not allowed to download the enterprise version that, according to Red Hat are more secure, reliable and robust. But no one of us want to start the development of a software with an unsecured, unreliable and not scalable middleware right? So what you do? You are "invited" by Red Hat to buy subscriptions from them to get access to the "cool" version of the software.

- WebLogic Server 12c prices are publicly available in the Oracle website. If you want to know right now how much WebLogic will cost to your organization, just click here and get access to our price list. In the case of WebLogic, check out the "US Oracle Technology Commercial Price List". Oracle also encourages you to get in touch with a sales representative to discuss discounts that would make possible the investment into our technology. But you are not required to do this, only if you are interested in buying our technology or maybe you want to discuss some discount scenarios. JBoss EAP 6 on the other hand does not have its cost publicly available in Red Hat's website or in any other media, at least is not so easy to get such information. The only link you will possibly find in their website is a "Contact a Sales Representative" link. This is not a very good relationship between an customer and an vendor. This is not an example of transparency, mainly when the software are sold as open. In this situations, customers expects to see the software prices publicly available, so they can have the chance to decide, based on the existing features of the software, if the cost is fair or not.


Oracle WebLogic is the most mature, secure, reliable and scalable Java EE application server of the market, and have a proven record of success around the globe to prove it's majority. Don't lose the chance to discover today how WebLogic could fit your needs and sustain your global IT middleware strategy, no matter if your strategy are completely based on the Cloud or not.


Ricardo Ferreira is just a regular person passionate for technology, traveling, movies and his family. He works for Oracle, member of the Cloud Architects Team, otherwise known as "The A-Team"


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