Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: "Oracle Weblogic Server 11gR1 PS2: Administration Essentials" by Michel Schildmeijer

Oracle's WebLogic 11g Server is an application server for running your enterprise Java EE applications. WebLogic's infrastructure supports the deployment of many types of distributed applications and is a foundation mission critical applications. This book is promising to guide you through the important administration aspects of WebLogic server.

Oracle WebLogic Server 11gR1 PS2: Administration Essentials is announced as a focused step-by-step tutorial that provides an overview of the important administrative tasks performed by WebLogic Server administrators.

Abstract: This book will teach administrators the techniques for installing and configuring Oracle WebLogic Server and how to deploy Java EE applications using the Administration Console, command-line interface, and scripting tools such as WLST. It starts with a good overview of the techniques needed in the middleware world of today. Clear explanations of definitions and concepts of Java EE and how Oracle WebLogic fits into this picture are also provided. The book then dives into performing routine Oracle WebLogic server administration functions, and how to deploy different types of Java EE applications to WebLogic server.

Book: Oracle Weblogic Server 11gR1 PS2: Administration Essentials
Language : English
Paperback : 304 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]
Release Date : September 2011
ISBN : 1849683026
ISBN 13 : 978-1-84968-302-9

About the author
Michel (@MNEMONIC01) was born in the Netherlands in 1966. He studied pharmaceuticals, and after military duty he started in industrial and hospital pharmacy. Because he got more involved in computers, he made the change to IT in 1996. At this moment he is an Oracle Fusion Middleware Architect at AMIS, with focus on technical infrastructure, server-side solutions, installing, administering, and configuring the Oracle Fusion Middleware stack. His experience is from integrations at telco's using Oracle AIA, Oracle Portal, OID, Forms & Reports, and Discoverer up to the latest Oracle WebLogic 11g releases with practically all Oracle products running on top of it.

He has a special interest in developing tools for administrators and automation of common administration task, so he has in-depth knowledge of the Oracle WebLogic server and its hidden secrets.

The content
First thing to notice is, that my most hated short form of Java EE is used through out the book. You find JEE all over the place. This really looks weird to me and still makes me believe, that someone isn't actually caring here.
But let's start with the content. On page 7 you start over with chapter one.

Chapter 1: Oracle WebLogic: Your First Step into the Middleware World!
All the basics about middleware servers, Java EE (!) and it's contained specifications in a very condensed fashion on 20 pages. You also get a brief introduction into WLS concepts and the overall architecture of WLS.

Chapter 2: The Beginning: Planning and Installation
This chapter circles around the right hardware to use, the system requirements and the different types of installations.

Chapter 3: Oracle WebLogic Software Installed; What's Next?
Looks at WLS domain concepts and how to configure them. You learn about administration modes, templates and domain creation.

Chapter 4: Getting in Control
Is all about system administration and it's tools. You learn how to fire-up your server, get to know about server states and limiting load on the instances. Even WLDF is introduces very briefly.

Chapter 5: Managed Servers and the Node Manager
As the name already states, this is about instances and controlling them. How to configure managed servers, start-up and shut-down and even briefly how to run this stuff on windows as a service.

Chapter 6: Deploy your Applications in Oracle WebLogic
Everything you need to know about deploying your applications to WLS. JSR-88 deployment, exploded, archived, and deployment-tools are scratched here on 20 pages.

Chapter 7: Connecting to the Outside World: JDBC and JMS
20 more pages (10 for each topic part) guide you through connection pools, data sources and monitoring for JDBC and JMS servers, connection factories, queues and topics.

Chapter 8: Making your WebLogic Mission-Critical: Clustering
Learn about clusters, cluster communications, session failover and load balancing with WLS in this chapter.

Chapter 9: The Heart of Oracle WebLogic Server: The JVM
The Java Virtual Machine is obviously the heart of WLS. Learn about the differences between HotSpot and JRockit, HeapSizes and JVM arguments in this chapter.

Chapter 10: What if Something Goes Wrong?
The most valuable chapter in any application server book. This is about diagnostics. Diagnostic core server problems related to linux or JVM problems and also some additional WLS specific information is available here.

Chapter 11: Configuring and Analyzing Logging
This chapter guides you through another hot topic for any WLS admin. Learn about WLS Logging Services, filters, WLDF interaction, logiles and how to configure that.

Chapter 12: Keeping your WebLogic Secure
Next to last is security. Learn about general security mechanisms and other ways of protecting your WLS instances. Even some attacks are mentioned and addressed here.

Chapter 13: WLST: Makes an Administrator's Life Easie
The final chapter introduces you to the WebLogic Scripting Tool and it's languages (Python and Jython). Learn about different modes and how to make best use of it in daily business.

Writing and style
The book is organized around a "Case". In this book you will be an employee of a fictive company, where you act as a senior technical consultant leading your boss through the struggles of selecting and running the "right middleware" server. This case is introduced on page 10 and reading it for the first time and being remembered of the fact that there is a case around every few pages gave me a split feeling. I was expecting a technical and not trivial content. I can't say, that it actually makes this a bad book. It probably gives the first time reader a more complete understanding about what could be the motivations behind selecting and running WLS. BUT: I personally don't like it. The overall writing is easy to follow, at least for non native speakers like me. And you find the commonly used terms of the WLS world across the book. The book is full of screenshots, as expected. The web-based administration console is stressed for most of the configuration. But you also have some handy examples of WLST usage. The ebook PDF is roughly 5,5MB in size and easy to navigate.

Conclusion and recommendation
Usually I find myself being able to write some kind of recommendation at the end of any book review I do. To be honest, this is hard for me with this book. It's a very brief overview of WLS and after you have read the 262 real content pages you have a good basic understanding about what WLS is able to do for you. My expectations were a little bit higher. This might be related to the fact, that I know WLS since ages and I was really looking for a book with more detailed insights. It all comes down to a book for real beginners. If you have installed and administrated the WLS in the past, you probably know a lot about what Michel is writing about already. If you are looking for WLS debug flags or the tiniest screws to seize, this isn't the right book for you.