October 13, 2011 | Written by: Fang Feng
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I am with WebSphere Portal Level 2 support. Many years of experience in support tells me that more than 50% of customer cases arise during installation, upgrade, and configuration. When the WebSphere Portal and IBM Web Content Management Hypervisor Edition was available, it immediately attracted my attention, because it has shown so many promising features that can eliminate many headaches of portal customers.
WebSphere Portal and IBM Web Content Management (WCM) Version 7.0 Hypervisor Edition is a pre-packaged and preconfigured Portal environment in Open Virtualization Archive (OVA) format with the .ova file extension. It is delivered as a VMware Hypervisor pattern that can be loaded into IBM Workload Deployer (formerly IBM CloudBurst). Within the package, you can find the following parts:
- WebSphere Application Server Deployment Manager
- IBM HTTP Server
- DB2 system
- WebSphere Portal and IBM Web Content Management (stand-alone and clustered)
- Several sample Web Content Management sites, Internet and intranet as virtual portals
After the image is booted up, a fully functional portal environment is available with a remote DB2 and IBM HTTP Server.
As of this writing, only Portal 7 offers two download packages for two types of Linux hypervisor packages, Red Hat and Novell SUSE. The future plan is to have many more configurations for various hypervisor types that customers can choose.
A file with the .ova extension is a compressed package with virtual machine images and associated configuration and message files. To view the content, you can change the file extension to .zip and view or extract the content using any ZIP utility, such as WinZip, jZip, or IZArc.
The significance about hypervisor OVA delivery is that a working portal environment can be set up within minutes, not hours or even days; and the system can be easily extended and customized to build a new environment and repackage as OVA files. This approach can dramatically reduce total cost of ownership, innovate IT infrastructure; and provide more opportunities for business owners to improve their operations and processes to make them more cost-effective and more efficient.
You can take advantage of this solution in private, public, or in a hybrid cloud setup. it provides the following features:
- Fast system setup. An OVA image can be instantiated and booted in minutes. After the system is up, a fully functioning portal is presented to the user. Comparing with the old way of installing and configuring Portal and Web Content Management, you can save several days by using this solution.
- Easy modular design and customization. System set up from an image can be easily customized. For example, add an LDAP server, and configure portal security to use this LDAP as user repository. After the security is configured and verified, you can then create a new image and save as an OVA package. Future systems can then be built based on the new image. With various customization options, separate “template” systems can be built and saved for separate scenarios.
- Simplified Portal release and deployment cycles. You can create development, integration, staging or QA, and production systems all from the same image with different localized parameters, and point all instances to the same virtual data store. Then, in each environment, persist data of the instance to its own physical data store at the back-end storage. Because the data in these environments are from the same source initially, the object IDs of Portal and Web Content Management artifacts are the same. Thus, Portal and Web Content Management tools such as XMLAccess, Release Builder, and MemberFixer, can be applied “out-of-the-box” without doing an “empty-portal” and XMLAccess import.
- Easier system backup periodically. Because of the dynamic nature and frequent updates of Portal and Web Content Management websites, IBM support recommends that the entire systems, including file system, database, and LDAP content, be backed up periodically, or at least before each major application deployment and system configuration change. With the Hypervisor Edition, the backup can be done as you create a new image or pattern.
- Robust disaster and recovery (DR) systems for failover. The DR system can be set up based on the same image of the production system in a different data center for keeping the data out of harm’s when any natural or man-made disasters happen. With virtual IP configuration and timely de-duplication replication, the backup system can be quickly switched over to the DR system for continuous operation in case of unexpected production system shutdown.
With all of these attractive features, I believe WebSphere Portal and Web Content Management Hypervisor Edition will play important roles in future portal cloud deployment and it will make the Portal customer’s administration and deployment a lot easier.