Power Vs

By Timothy Dyck  |  Posted 2001-10-01 Print this article Print

. Manageability"> Power Vs. Manageability

In these releases, both products place a new emphasis on developing Web services accessible using HTTP, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and WSDL (Web Service Definition Language). Both also include across-the-board updates to support Java standards.

In eWeek Labs tests, we found the products Web services capabilities quite similar. IBM uses The Apache Software Foundation Inc.s Apache SOAP libraries, which it had a major part in writing, with extensions to support WSDL and security. WebLogic uses its own SOAP engine and XML (Extensible Markup Language) parser, along with some Apache components.

Both provide command-line tools to package JavaBeans or EJB as SOAP objects. WebSphere can also make DB2 stored procedures accessible through SOAP.

Java standards compliance is also a major goal for both BEA and IBM, and we found WebLogic the clear leader in this area—a traditional strength for the product.

In fact, WebLogic is one whole standards revision ahead of WebSphere. It supports the final draft of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) 1.3—the next big standards change for Java application servers.

Organizations that are pushing the Java technology envelope will thus find WebLogic a perfect match. Its cutting-edge; has a sophisticated engine with unusual features, such as built-in message queuing and a built-in transaction monitor with two-phase commit support; and moves in lock step with Suns Java development plans.

WebSphere Advanced Edition lacks message queuing but supports two-phase commit. It can also use IBMs MQSeries message queuing and TXSeries transaction monitoring products.

J2EE 1.3 was just approved last month, and BEA expects to have WebLogic certified as J2EE 1.3-compliant in the next few months.

WebLogics built-in support for message queuing dovetails perfectly with the message queuing features in EJB 2.0. Along with its MQSeries connector, sold separately, WebLogic is especially attractive for those building distributed Java applications, where message queuing is invaluable.

WebSphere 4.0 is J2EE 1.2-certified, the first WebSphere version to be fully J2EE 1.2-compliant, and so just supports the EJB 1.1 standard. WebSphere has traditionally been one of the slower application servers to adopt current Java standards.

However, for Java application server code written to J2EE 1.2 or earlier standards—which is pretty much all Java application server code right now—we found WebSphere a more productive and comfortable operating environment than WebLogic. In particular, WebSpheres configuration, monitoring and management tools were notably superior to those in WebLogic.

WebSpheres set of Java-based administration tools covers all the bases, including an Administrative Console for operational management, Application Assembly tool for interactive application archive construction, Log Analyzer tool for log analysis, and Resource Analyzer tool for measuring and recording performance data—plus a full set of command-line tools. We were particularly impressed with how the Log Analyzer referenced an online database to explain error messages and with the flexibility of the Resource Analyzer.

In contrast, WebLogics Server Console is focused only on operational issues such as starting the server and configuring installed applications. Its mix of a tree control and tabbed dialog boxes made the interface inconsistent, and it offered only rudimentary run-time statistics.

Although we could edit application deployment descriptors from Server Console, we couldnt create them from scratch. WebLogic provides command-line tools for this purpose, or developers can use a third-party development tool and then edit a generic deployment descriptor to add WebLogic 6.1-specific settings, which is what we did using Borland Software Corp.s JBuilder 5 Enterprise.

This bare-metal feel extends to other parts of WebLogic because BEA relies on third parties, including Borland and WebGain Inc., to support development tools that work with WebLogic. Since these tools ship on their own release cycles, they always lag behind WebLogic itself, in the same way they do with the other application servers they support.

On its own, WebLogic provides a full set of command-line tools for compiling and deploying code to itself. (Better support for Javas Ant make tool is included in this release.)

Both BEA and IBM offer related sets of products for back-end integration, personalization, storefront and portal creation, and workflow. IBM has a much more complete mobile development strategy through its WebSphere Transcoding Publisher, WebSphere Voice Server and WebSphere Everyplace Suite.

WebLogic doesnt provide any features for device detection, markup language abstraction or transcoding but works with mobile development products from Air2Web Inc. and others.

Timothy Dyck is a Senior Analyst with eWEEK Labs. He has been testing and reviewing application server, database and middleware products and technologies for eWEEK since 1996. Prior to joining eWEEK, he worked at the LAN and WAN network operations center for a large telecommunications firm, in operating systems and development tools technical marketing for a large software company and in the IT department at a government agency. He has an honors bachelors degree of mathematics in computer science from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and a masters of arts degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.

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