BEA shining up Diamond release of WebLogic Platform

Continuing its focus on service-oriented architectures (SOAs), BEA Systems Inc. is mapping out the next version of its WebLogic Platform product suite, code named Diamond.

Also referred to as Version 9.0, Diamond is due to ship in the summer of 2005. It is set to feature upgrades to BEA products such as the WebLogic Server application server and the WebLogic Workshop development tool as well as the newly announced Project QuickSilver, which will combine messaging with Web services management in SOAs. An SOA is intended to provide for easily adaptable services-based computing paradigms.

Following Diamond, the planned Everest release of Platform focuses on “Business Oriented Architecture.”

BEA officials discussed Diamond and Everest during sessions at the BEA eWorld 2004 conference here in San Francisco this week.

The Diamond version of the WebLogic Server application server, code named Diablo, is to feature disruption-free application and server upgrades.

“In Diablo, we have provided a set of infrastructure that lets you upgrade your application without interrupting user execution,” said Andrew Littlefield, senior director of product management at BEA. The application server itself also can be upgraded without interrupting application server processes, he said.

To simplify SOA development, Diablo introduces managed endpoints to boost SOA development. Additionally, Diablo enables XML Beans to operate in two modes: high-fidelity mode, which maintains whole document fidelity and comments associated with a particular Web service, or fast-track mode for higher performance.

Also planned for Diablo is a high-availability framework for MAN and WAN failover. Easier debugging without interrupting applications also is proposed. To boost operations, administration and management, the console has been improved dramatically and rebuilt around a light version of the BEA portal product, Littlefield said. The number of task views in the console has been increased, as well.

Diablo features Java Message Service Quality of Service. Security is being improved through extended support of the WS-Security specification. Support of the WS-Addressing specification, meanwhile, will enable interoperable asynchronous Web services, while WS-ReliableMessaging support provides interoperable reliable messaging.

The Diamond release of Workshop is intended to be faster and offer better integration with tools and technologies.

“We want to make sure Workshop 9, Workshop Diamond, is twice as fast with half the memory. That’s our goal,” said Carl Sjogreen, group product manager for WebLogic Workshop.

Among features planned are boosts in iterative development performance and a fully functional, cross-platform Java Server Pages (JSP) designer. The IDE is to be improved through an enhanced project/build model and JavaBean editor. The product also will feature multi-window/split-window/full-screen capabilities.

Enhanced XML and Schema editing is proposed also, along with enhanced EJBGen tools, JUnit integration, deployment descriptor editing and standard J2EE project templates. Database schema/data browsing is planned, along with automatic EJB and database control generation.

The Diamond release will support composite application scenarios, for SOA deployments. Also planned are enhanced databinding and Page Flow wizards. There will be no more monolithic wizards, according to BEA.

Key standards to be supported in the Diamond release of Workshop include Java Specification Request (JSR) 175, for metadata, and JSRs 181 and 109, providing a unified Web services stack. The JavaServer Faces specification, for building Web-based UIs, also is eyed for inclusion.

BEA with Workshop Diamond intends to make the product better integrate with existing development environments. Externalized metadata, for administrative configuration and override of Workshop metadata, is another feature. The externalized metadata functionality also provides a first step in enabling non-coders to participate in application development.

In the area of integration, BEA with Diamond is readying both QuickSilver and an upgrade to WebLogic Integration. QuickSilver presents a convergence of both Web services and non-Web services-based messaging. It is a key component of BEA’s plan to boost SOAs.

A BEA attendee applauded the company’s multiplatform bent planned for QuickSilver. “I think [the product shows an] an increased awareness that they’re not the only one on the block,” said Jack Quigley, IT architect at Avaya, which develops communications systems.

With the WebLogic Integration business integration package, BEA plans externalized control and process configuration, which can be overridden by an administrator at run time. Administrators also can roll back process instances to defined points, and developers can build a new version of a process and deploy it. Business Process Execution Language, for orchestrating interactions between Web services, also is to be supported.

The next version of Liquid Data, which is BEA’s data access software, will feature Service Data Objects, which provide the same API for all types of sources and is considered a key for composite applications. Web services integration is planned, as is nested data objects support.

The BEA WebLogic Portal product is set to leverage the company’s Alchemy technology for disconnected and connected computing. This summer, the portal product will be fitted with a federated portals function, through which business users, administrators, or developers can dynamically discover and add remote services.

Other improvements eyed for Portal in the Diamond timeframe or earlier focus on unified administration, to allow for rapid changes to requirements. A new extensibility model will support dynamic management of all business services, not just portal services, BEA said.

The Portal product also will support JavaServer Faces. Improved team and enterprise development is planned as well. In addition, new capabilities in the portal offering are planned for content deployment, to enable import and export of content for staging content across repositories. Standard archive packaging for portlets is intended to improve deployment and sharing of portlets.

The proposed Everest release of Platform features a theme of Business Oriented Architecture. Key goals include: moving from services to business events, widely deployed messaging infrastructure, utility computing, a metadata-based programming model, and making business activity monitoring and business intelligence a first class citizen in BEA’s suite.

“The ultimate reach-out to the business language is business events,” such as “purchase order” or “customer unhappy” events, said Vittorio Viarengo, vice-president of Platform product strategy at BEA.

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