WebSphere Application Server
Articles and Tips: article
01 Dec 1999
The old adage that you get what you pay for isn't always true. Sometimes you get more than you pay for. For example, when you pay for NetWare 5.1, you get more than the latest version of Novell's network operating system. You also receive IBM WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition, a Java-based web application server--and the final component Novell needed to secure its position in the application server space.
WebSphere Application Server runs on middle-tier servers--such as NetWare 5.1 servers--in n-tier networks. Web application servers enable you to create, manage, deploy, and execute web applications. For example, WebSphere Application Server enables you to manage and deploy web applications through the WebSphere Standard Administrative Console. (For more information about n-tier networks, see "Managing Multiple Databases,"NetWare Connection, Oct. 1999, pp. 16-31. You can download this article fromhttp://www.nwconnection.com/past.)
NetWare 5.1 also includes IBM WebSphere Studio (Entry Edition). WebSphere Studio provides Java-based tools that enable programmers and web developers to create web applications and to publish these applications to WebSphere Application Server.
How do WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Studio compare with other web application servers and Java-based programming tools? According to a recent article inPC Week, the WebSphere products lead the competition: "With its updated WebSphere Application Server 3.0 application server and WebSphere Studio 3.0 Web page editor, IBM provides a more complete Web application development package than anyone else, making it easy to get started while still providing lots of room to grow." ("IBM's WebSphere 3.0 Pushes Ahead,"PC Week, Oct. 18, 1999, p. 14. You can download this article from http://www.zdnet.com/pcweek/stories/news/0,4153,2374523,00.html.)
With NetWare 5.1 and WebSphere Application Server, Novell has migrated to the application server space. Bill Oakes, director of NetWare Applications Marketing for Novell, explains: "WebSphere extends the functionality of NetWare 5.1 by enabling the development, deployment, and execution of next-generation applications."
What are next-generation applications? According to Oakes, next-generation applications are standards-based applications that can be deployed on the Internet, and next-generation web application servers can perform well in this environment. Application server platforms such as NetWare 5.1 can provide security, are reliable, and can scale to accommodate the increased demands of the Internet. (For more information about NetWare 5.1 as an application server, see "NetWare: The Application Platform of the Future,"NetWare Connection, Aug. 1999, pp. 20-21. You can download this article from http://www.nwconnection.com/past.)
WITHIN THE SPHERE
Because NetWare 5.1 includes the Standard Edition of WebSphere Application Server, you may think you receive a scaled-down version of the WebSphere Application Server 3.0, Standard Edition that runs on other operating systems. Instead, you receive a fully functional web application server. Oakes comments, "In a lot of cases, 'Standard Edition' means a reduced-functionality version of the real thing. In this case, WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition really is the standard product. It has everything you need to build fully functioning web sites."
In fact, WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition includes features that are not available on other operating systems. For example, WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition provides a fully integrated, completely automated installation. In addition, WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition has been integrated with Novell Directory Services (NDS) 8. As a result, you can set up security for your company's web application server through NDS 8.
The Sphere Fits NetWare Like a Glove
If you want to install WebSphere Application Server on another operating system--such as Windows NT or UNIX--you must install multiple pieces manually, completing the following steps:
You must install the operating system.
You must install the latest version of the Java Developer Kit (JDK) from Sun Microsystems.
You must install a web server and configure WebSphere Application Server to use that web server and the JDK.
If you want web applications to access a database for information, you must install that database and configure WebSphere Application Server to access it.
You must configure security for WebSphere Application Server.
In contrast, you can install WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition when you install NetWare 5.1: You simply click a checkbox in the NetWare 5.1 installation program. The installation program then automatically installs NetWare Enterprise Web Server, JDK 1.17B, and other software, such as the Novell Java Virtual Machine (JVM), that WebSphere Application Server requires for operation.
Because all of the software WebSphere Application Server requires to run is integrated with NetWare 5.1, WebSphere Application Server needs no additional configuration to use this software. In other words, all of the software WebSphere Application Server needs automatically fits together with the click of a mouse. "When you install WebSphere on NetWare 5.1, it will be up and ready [to use] to develop, deploy, and manage web applications that contain servlets, JavaServer Pages, and HTML," Kent Boogert, a technical leader at Novell, explains.
In addition, the NetWare 5.1 installation program integrates WebSphere Application Server with other products that you can select to install with NetWare 5.1. For example, if you click the checkbox to install Oracle8i for NetWare, the installation program automatically installs a Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) driver that enables applications running on WebSphere Application Server to access the Oracle8i database. (For more information about NetWare 5.1, see "Upcoming NetWare Game Highlights,"NetWare Connection, Nov. 1999, pp. 6-16. You can download this article from http://www.nwconnection.com/past.)
Full integration with NetWare 5.1 also enables WebSphere Application Server to access NDS 8. In fact, WebSphere Application Server uses NDS 8 to authenticate users who want to access WebSphere Application Server resources. (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1: With WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition, you can use NDS 8 to authenticate users who want to access WebSphere resources.
STANDARDS IN THE ROUND
Like NetWare 5.1, WebSphere Application Server is based on open standards. As a result, programmers are more likely to write applications that can run on WebSphere Application Server.
Specifically, WebSphere Application Server is based on Sun Microsystems's J2EE, an open standard for Java-based web application servers. Because J2EE is an open standard, you can move web applications that are written to this standard from one J2EE server to another--even when those servers run on different operating systems. For example, if a J2EE-compliant application is written for a BEA WebLogic web application server that runs on Solaris, you can also run this application on WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare.
More than 30 companies--including Novell, IBM, Oracle, Sun, Netscape, and BEA--are either offering or planning to offer web application servers that comply with the J2EE standard. Software developers will undoubtedly continue to write web applications for this growing number of J2EE-compliant servers. The greater the number of available web applications that will run on J2EE servers--and therefore on WebSphere Application Server--the greater the likelihood that you can find web applications that meet your company's needs.
The J2EE standard includes several Java technologies, including Java servlets, JavaServer Pages (JSP), JDBC, Extensible Markup Language (XML), Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL), and Remote Method Invocation (RMI)/Internet Inter-ORB Protocol (IIOP). All of these Java technologies enable programmers and web masters to write applications that access information on your company's network to produce dynamic web pages. (For more information about these Java technologies, see "Java to the Core.")
If you are among the growing number of network administrators who are finding themselves cast in the additional role of webmaster, JSP support may be particularly interesting to you. JSP is a Java component technology that separates the static (HTML) content and page layout in web pages from the dynamic content.
JSP support makes the webmaster's job a lot easier. You can change the look and feel of a JSP page just as you would change any static web page--by using your favorite text editor--without having to tamper with the dynamic processes embedded in that page and without having to compile any code. In contrast, to change the appearance of a web page produced by a Java servlet, you would have to alter that servlet's code and recompile the code yourself.
JSP technology also enables you to take advantage of the expertise of several programmers--such as database or business logic programmers--instead of relying on the expertise of just one programmer. For example, a programmer who specializes in writing database programs could write a program component that accesses your company's financial database for profit and loss information.
Another programmer who specializes in writing human resources programs could write a program component that accesses your company's human resources system for information about employee stock options. You could then use JSP technology to combine the information from these two components in a web page for users who need access to that information. (For more information about programming components for WebSphere Application Server, see "Developing Applications for NetWare.")
WebSphere Application Server supports JSP technology through a JSP engine. JSPs are HTML pages that contain specialized tags to indicate that a dynamic process--such as a scripting process or a JavaBean process--is embedded in that page. (For an explanation of JavaBeans, see the glossary.) A JSP engine is software that runs on a web server or web application server and receives requests for JSPs from first-tier devices, such as browsers. (You can download more information about JSP technology at http://java.sun.com/products/jsp/download.html.)
CONTROLLING YOUR COMPANY'S SPHERE
To make it easier to manage, configure, and deploy resources, WebSphere Application Server includes the Standard Administrative Console, a standalone Java application that provides an easy-to-use GUI and wizards. For example, the Standard Administrative Console allows you to customize web services for different groups of users. (See Figure 2.)
Figure 2: The Standard Administrative Console, which is included with WebSphere Application Server, enables you to customize web services for different users.
You can also control multiple WebSphere Application Servers running on multiple NetWare 5.1 servers through a single Standard Administrative Console, and you can control access to the resources running on these WebSphere Application Servers. In addition, the Standard Administrative Console gives you access to information about each WebSphere Application Server's performance and configuration.
You can run Standard Administrative Console on the same NetWare 5.1 server on which WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition is running. However, you can also run Standard Administrative Console on servers running Windows NT 4.0, Sun Solaris 2.6, or IMB AIX/6000 3.2. (For more information about WebSphere Standard Administrative Console system requirements, visit http://www.software.ibm.com/webservers/appserv/standard.html.)
To access WebSphere Application Server 3.0 for NetWare, Standard Edition from one of these platforms, you simply launch the Standard Administrative Console, which prompts you to enter the IP address--or a host name that resolves to that address--of the server on which WebSphere Application Server is running. (The default IP address is the address of the server on which Standard Administrative Console is installed. Thus, if Standard Administrative Console is running on NetWare 5.1 with WebSphere Application Server, you do not need to enter an IP address.)
The Standard Administrative Console includes the following tabs:
MY TYPE, EXACTLY
The Types tab allows you to create and customize the following features by adding, deleting, and modifying the default properties of those features:
Application Servers. An application server is a copy of WebSphere Application Server that you can create and configure to provide a specific set of services. That is, the Standard Administrative Console allows you to create multiple copies of WebSphere Application Server on the same NetWare 5.1 server. You can then customize the services these copies, or application servers, provide. For example, you can configure the number of connections an application server can accommodate.You can create multiple application servers to provide customized services for a particular subset of users. For example, if your company has several branch offices, each of which needs to access a different set of web applications, you can set up a separate application server to meet the particular needs of each branch office. You can then give each branch office access to its application server through a virtual host.
Virtual Hosts. A virtual host is an alias, or logical representation, of web application servers and programs that share a common management point. A single physical host can support multiple virtual hosts. When you configure a virtual host, you give that virtual host a URL and point that URL to a particular application server. You also name the resources--the JSPs and servlets--that you want to provide through that application server.This virtual host then appears to users as a separate entity with separate resources. For example, you might configure an application server and virtual host for your company's accounting department. The members of that department could then use WebSphere features, such as the Java servlet and JSP Application Program Interfaces (APIs), to access web-based accounting resources, such as a servlet that cuts company paychecks.These resources would be logically confined within the space of the application server and virtual host. In other words, the accounting department could manage and control its own virtual application server that ran on a physical host that was shared by other departments within the company. Nonaccounting users would not see the accounting department's resources on your company's intranet site.
Nodes. The node feature enables you to create a logical application server that spans multiple machines. A node also enables you to use one Standard Administrative Console to manage multiple WebSphere Application Servers on multiple NetWare 5.1 servers. For example, you might use the node type to control the WebSphere Application Server running on your company's e-commerce system as well as the WebSphere Application Server running on your company's intranet.
TAKE WEBSPHERE TO TASK
As you may guess, you use the Standard Administrative Console Task tab to perform administrative tasks, such as adding resources--for example, servlets and JSPs--to WebSphere Application Server. To make the task of adding, configuring, and managing these resources easier than it may otherwise be, the Task tab provides wizards.
Among other things, these wizards help you configure the following features for WebSphere Application Server:
The security feature allows you to configure Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security for web applications, such as e-commerce applications. (SeeFigure 2. For an explanation of SSL, see theglossary.) WebSphere Application Server uses the NetWare infrastructure to supply SSL services through Novell International Cryptographic Infrastructure (NICI).
NICI is a group of NetWare Loadable Modules (NLMs) that work together to provide network applications with a secure way to send and receive communications. In addition, NICI controls the level of encryption that a resource--such as a servlet--can receive based on the laws of the country in which the NetWare 5.1 server and NICI are running. (For more information about NICI, see "With NICI It's All Holes Barred,"NetWare Connection, Dec. 1998, pp. 8-20. You can download this article from http://www.nwconnection.com/past.)
The security feature also allows you to select the authentication mechanism that allows WebSphere Application Server to authenticate users through NDS 8. You can choose no authentication, basic authentication, or X.509 certificate authentication. If you choose basic authentication, the user must supply a valid username and password to access resources on WebSphere Application Server. If you choose X.509 certificate authentication, WebSphere Application Server requires the Internet browser to return a digital certificate that identifies the user. WebSphere Application Server then uses this certificate to both authenticate and authorize the user's access.
After specifying the authentication mechanism, you can configure access control lists--which use this mechanism--for particular resources running on your company's network. For example, you can limit access to the servlets and JSPs you deploy through WebSphere Application Server. (When you create an access control list for a particular resource, you name the users who can access that resource.)
This granular control allows you to offer different services to different people through your company's intranet or web site. For example, suppose your company's intranet resources include a servlet that cuts employee bonus checks. You could limit access to this servlet by configuring an access control list that lists specific users, such as the company president or the head of the accounting department. Only these individuals could then access this servlet.
Performance Does Matter
The performance feature allows you to access information about how WebSphere Application Server is performing. For example, you can access the Resource Analyzer, which includes statistical information, such as the number of servlets WebSphere Application Server is serving per second.
The Resource Analyzer also allows you to monitor the performance of web resources by building custom graphs and reports about WebSphere Application Server's throughput. (See Figure 3.) In other words, the performance feature allows you to see firsthand how WebSphere Application Server is performing so that you can then make system configuration decisions that enhance that performance.
Figure 3: The Resource Analyzer enables you to monitor the performance of web resources.
LAY OF THE LAND
The Standard Administrative Console Topology tab provides a hierarchical view of how WebSphere Application Server is currently configured. The top entry in this view is the WebSphere Application Server domain. This entry is followed by a list of the nodes you have configured for that domain. Each node is followed by a list of the web application servers and virtual hosts configured on that node. Finally, each of these web application servers is followed by a list of the servlet engines configured for that server.
AROUND THE STUDIO
As mentioned earlier, WebSphere Studio (Entry Edition) includes application development tools that are designed to make it easy for both experienced programmers and novice programmers to create web applications and to publish those applications to WebSphere Application Server. (See Figure 4.) WebSphere Studio offers an easy-to-use GUI and runs on Windows NT 4.0 (with Service Pack 3 installed), 98, or 95. Specifically, WebSphere Studio provides the following tools:
Figure 4: WebSphere Studio (Entry Edition) offers an easy-to-use GUI.
Wizards. WebSphere Studio wizards include the Java servlet API to help you write or edit Java servlets and the JDBC API to help you create server-side applications that access bottom-tier databases (such as Oracle8i). These wizards also help you write JavaBeans and Java code that links Java components--such as servlets and JavaBeans--to form full-fledged web applications.
Workbench. WebSphere Studio workbench enables you to organize and manage the files that comprise WebSphere Application Server applications and application components. Through the workbench, you can organize these files according to projects and store the files anywhere on your company's network.The workbench also includes search capabilities that help you locate stored files. These search capabilities facilitate collaborative work on projects: You can distribute component files to various individuals without losing control of those files.In addition, the workbench includes a Relationship view that enables you to see the links between the component files that comprise a particular project--a feature that makes it easy to locate broken links. You can also configure the workbench to automatically update the links between component files whenever you move these files to a new location.Finally, the workbench enables you to import existing applications and application components into a project file and to publish this file to WebSphere Application Server. You can then test the logic contained in those files.
Applet Designer. WebSphere Studio applet designer is an applet creation tool that is based on NetObjects BeanBuilder technology. (You can find more information about NetObjects BeanBuilder by visiting http://www.netobjects.com/store/index.html. Click NetObjects Products, find BeanBuilder, and click Full.)
You can also access and use other web application development tools, such as IBM VisualAge for Java, through WebSphere Studio (Entry Edition). In fact, WebSphere Studio (Entry Edition) ships with 30-day trial versions of VisualAge for Java 3.0 (Entry Edition) and NetObjects ScriptBuilder 2.0.
VisualAge for Java 3.0 is an application development tool that enables you to create, test, and deploy Java web applications without writing Java code. VisualAge for Java is tightly integrated with both WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Studio. (You can download more information about VisualAge for Java at http://www-4.ibm.com/software/ad/vajava/vaj3.html.)
Novell is also providing some programming components that will help you build applications. These components will be released in the near future through Novell's developer web site. (For more information, see "Developing Applications for NetWare.")
NetWare 5.1 represents the first release of NetWare that includes WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Studio. However, Novell and IBM intend to include WebSphere Application Server with every version of NetWare from NetWare 5.1 forward. Novell also intends to further integrate WebSphere Application Server with Novell products in these future releases. (See "Rolling Along.")
Why are Novell and IBM partnering to offer you a web application server with each new version of the NetWare operating system you purchase? According to John Christensen, the WebSphere development manager for Novell, this partnership will enable IBM to achieve nearly immediate market penetration of its WebSphere products. "Novell ships a million servers a year," Christensen explains. "We anticipate that within the first year, there will be more WebSphere Application Servers deployed on NetWare than there will be on any other platform."
For Novell, this partnership represents the first step in establishing NetWare as a server that ideally suits the Open Application Server (OAS) model, a model that Novell believes will define the application server platform of the future.
"WebSphere is basically our entrance into the Open Application Server space," Oakes explains. (For more information about the OAS model, see "NetWare: The Application Platform of the Future,"NetWare Connection, Aug. 1999, pp. 20-21. You can download this article at http://www.nwconnection.com/past.)
In other words, all interested parties benefit from the Novell-IBM alliance: IBM increases its customer base, Novell establishes NetWare as the next generation of application servers, and you get a web application server that can help your company's network take advantage of the latest web-based technologies.
Cheryl Walton works for Niche Associates, an agency that specializes in technical writing.
* Originally published in Novell Connection Magazine
The origin of this information may be internal or external to Novell. While Novell makes all reasonable efforts to verify this information, Novell does not make explicit or implied claims to its validity.