Bobby Woolf: WebSphere SOA and JEE in Practice
From archive: June 2006 X
A reader asked: Is IBM going to release Rational Application Developer 6.1? Is RAD 6.1 available now?
The question appears as a comment on WebSphere Application Server V6.1 Announced. IBM_RAD_Customer asks:
I can't use RAD 6.0 to build applications for Websphere Application Server 6.1
Yes, RAD 6.0 does not know how to develop code for the new features in WAS 6.1, such as the new Java language features in J2SE 5.0. To develop code for those features, you'll need to use the Application Server Toolkit (InfoCenter), which is included with the WAS 6.1 install.
The latest version of RAD is
My personal opinion (because I use our products too): I wish we (IBM) would have a corresponding WSAD/RAD release for each new WAS release. We had that for 5.0, 5.1, and 6.0, which really helped development teams upgrade their environments and hit the ground running with the latest releases. But there is apparently no RAD 6.1 to go with WAS 6.1. If you wish we had RAD 6.1 so you could buy it, that's a missed sales opportunity for us, one that you might want to communicate to your IBM WebSphere/Rational salesperson, whom I'm sure will be glad to communicate this back to Rational's marketing along with actual customer names and estimates of missed sales.[Read More]
So, what is (currently) the latest version of RAD anyway?
In RAD 6.1?, I established that there is no RAD 6.1 to go with WAS 6.1 (but there will be a RAD 7.0 in late 2006). I also said "The latest version of RAD is 188.8.131.52," since that's what the page said it was. That didn't sound correct to me, and sure enough, JW@IBM commented very quickly that "actually the latest version of RAD is 184.108.40.206." She's correct; I wonder why the RAD page is out of date?!
She went on to ask: "Do you know of the best way to stay on top of the latest fixpack as it's released?" Good question. WAS has a couple of good pages documenting this info; see Keeping WAS Up-To-Date. In Keeping RAD Up-To-Date, I documented the IBM Rational Product Updater that JW refers to. But shouldn't there be a support page listing definitively what the latest version of RAD is?
I'd say there should be, but apparently there isn't.* What I have found along these lines is listed on the RAD support page. (Go to the main RAD page, then select Support.) On the support page, the Download section lists a couple of interesting items:
So whereas WAS has a whole set of pages listing the patches for different versions, RAD just seems to have its main Support page. Anyway, it provides the definitive answer: Currently, the latest version of RAD is 220.127.116.11 interim fix 2.
BTW, the support page has an RSS feed. The announcement of RAD 18.104.22.168 fix 2 is currently forth from the top. So this RSS feed would be one way to find out about the latest patches.
Also BTW, I now see that the support page also has another link I've been looking for: In the Learn section is Information center, a link to the RAD InfoCenter I documented in Rational Developer Tools Information Centers. I haven't been able to find many links to the RAD info center, so I'm glad to see this one.
* 06/13/2006 Update: I said there needs to be a page listing the latest RAD patches, but I couldn't find one. Actually, one of my Rational colleagues has pointed me to one: Recommended fixes for Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software version 6.0. Sure enough, this list of fixes confirms that the latest version of RAD is 22.214.171.124 IF2. I don't know how (else) you're supposed to find this page,** but here it is.
** 06/19/2006 Update: I said I didn't know how to find the Recommended Fixes page. Another Rational colleague of mine pointed out that they now list it on the RAD Support page in the Download section (just like for WAS). So if you loose the link for it, that's where to do find it. Good deal.[Read More]
I have a new article in the developerWorks Architecture zone, "Introduction to SOA governance."
The article distinguishes between governance, IT governance, and SOA governance. The more I learn about governance, the more I'm coming to understand that a lot of IT shops aren't very good at governance in general. Companies tend to be reasonably good at corporate governance because it's required by the SEC (at least for companies on the US stock exchanges). Hospitals tend to have a lot of governance around proper health practices. But a lot of IT departments have a hard time with governance.
For example, most IT departments want to develop reusable components. But that requires identifying good reuse opportunities, designing for reuse, cataloging reusable components, encouraging development of reusable components and rewarding reuse of components, etc. Many shops don't do this very well, and so their success with reusable components is fairly limited.
SOA isn't going to make this any easier; if anything, it will make it harder. (Yes, SOA can actually make things harder; for example, see Why and when should you choose SOA?) SOA means not only that components/services should be reusable, but that they should match the business. Groups that are already good at governance can build on that success to develop effective SOA governance practices. For groups that don't do IT governance well, SOA will be even more challenging, but will also be a greater opportunity. SOA may finally be the excuse some departments need to take governance seriously and really focus on doing it well.
I hope you'll find my article a good introduction to what some of the SOA governance issues are and why they're important. Enjoy.[Read More]
Do the WebSphere Adapters work in WAS 6.1?
This question was asked in a comment on WAS 6.1 Now Available. The WebSphere Adapters are part of the WebSphere Business Process Management suite of products. Specifically, they're the newer WBI Adapters that are reimplemented to be J2EE Connector Architecture (aka J2C) compliant. So, WAS is J2C compliant, the Adapters are J2EE compliant, so do the Adapters work in WAS 6.1?
In a word: No. The Adapters are J2C compliant, but they also require some extra stuff, like the business objects (InfoCenter) framework in WebSphere Process Server and WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus.
WAS 6.1 doesn't contain the business object component (nor some other code that the Adapters require); the SCA, business objects, and CEI components are built on top of WAS ND, not within it. So the Adapters cannot run in WAS 6.1.[Read More]
Previously I talked about IBM Enterprise Mashup. So what is a Matchup?
I talk about it (where else?) on my wiki at Mashup.
My take is that a mashup app is basically a composite app, like a portal. I've coined a new term, mashlet, which is like a portlet but for mashup content sources. I contend that a mashlet is what we've been calling a service. Nevertheless, let's see if the term catches on![Read More]
IBM's Billy Newport has posted "WebSphere group membership overview."
I wouldn't have guessed from the title, but the topic of the posting is details about how the High Availability Manager in WAS 6.x works. The HA Manager is a major step forward, and part of the basis for WXD. It works by keeping the cluster members in contact with each other, electing where to run singletons, and holding new elections when outages are detected. Billy explains some of the details about how all this works.
Have you ever wondered, "Why use WAS 6 instead of some other J2EE app server? Aren't they all just J2EE?" One of the main capabilities that separates the J2EE app server men from the boys is clustering and high availability. WAS does this really well; a WAS application sees the results as what we call workload management (WLM), which provides load balancing and failover, which makes apps HA even when individual app servers or host machines are not so HA. It's interesting to read about how it all works.
For more info:
There's a new Insight and outlook column in the developerWorks Architecture Zone: "Defining the most important IT architecture issues."
My answer is, "Aligning IT with business."
For previous columns, see Service Governance.[Read More]
Do customers need the WebSphere Adapters work in WAS 6.1?
A couple of days ago in WAS 6.1 and WebSphere Adapters, I answered the question "Do the WebSphere Adapters work in WAS 6.1?" (Answer: No.) But this makes me wonder: Do you really need the Adapters to run in WAS?
I don't know for sure what plans WAS development has; if I knew for sure, I probably couldn't say anyway; and in any event, plans might change. So I'm just kind of speculating out loud here. (These are my opinions, not necessarily the official position of my employer, blah blah blah.)
The Adapters are pre-built J2C connectors for connecting to external systems. A classic build vs. buy decision, you can buy them from us because that's way easier and cheaper than building them yourself. They make the most sense in an environment/server like WESB/Process Server or Message Broker, because those give you higher-level programming models specialized around integration. (WESB/Process Server uses SCA built on J2EE; WMB uses its own message flow model.)
They make sense because connecting to an external system (the Channel Adapter pattern) is only half the battle. Once you can connect, and communicate with the system using messages, then you've gotta do something with those messages. WESB/WPS and WMB provide models for doing this, perhaps for linking lots of Adapters together and mediating between them. WAS and J2EE don't offer a model like this; like everything else in J2EE, you write Java code to use J2C connectors. This is fine, it's just another programming model, a lower-level and less-specialized one compared to SCA and message flows. But J2EE is the only programming model available in WAS.
So if you're using WAS to develop applications that are doing at least some integration, rather than using WESB or WPS, then you're saying, "I don't need that fancy higher-level integration programming model, I'm fine with just J2EE. Or I at least don't want to pay for a higher-level model. I'll just write Java code." OK, that's fine. But in that mind set, you're going to want a higher-level Adapter model and be willing to pay for it? If you're building your own integration logic from scratch, maybe you'll be inclined to build your own connectors from scratch too.
So it seems to me that the main market that's going to want the advantages of the Adapters is the market that also wants the advantages of WESB/WPS and WMB. Those who want to write their own integration in Java may well also want to implement their own connectors. So maybe the WAS marketplace for the Adapters is rather limited, and so maybe it's a lower priority for IBM. (I don't know for sure, but this is what makes sense to me.)
So part of the moral of this story is this: If you're using WAS and don't want to move up to WESB/WPS (which may well be perfectly fine in your circumstances), but you want and will pay for the Adapters, then you may need to make your needs known to IBM. You should (I believe) talk to your WebSphere salesperson and let them know that you'd like to be able to buy and use the Adapters in your WAS apps. They can communicate this back to WebSphere Marketing, which can then better judge market demand and set priorities accordingly. You don't have to talk to your sales rep, but it's probably the best way to make your needs known so that we can try to address them better.[Read More]