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Gain an Advantage with IBM WebSphere* on Intel® Architecture-based Servers

Author: Intel® Software Network
Published On: Sunday, July 22, 2007 | Last Modified On: Monday, May 05, 2008
by Allan McNaughton

In today’s highly competitive business environment, the intelligent use of technology can determine whether a company becomes an industry leader or just another one of the pack. To become an industry leader, it is crucial to select a technology platform that gives your organization a competitive edge by delivering the right services to the right customers at the right price.

In the past it was standard practice to use a diverse array of proprietary products, however recently many companies have realized the price of doing so. Cost control efforts have led to the widespread adoption of standards-based technologies, with server-side Java* and Intel architecture-based processors leading the way. The demand for Java development and deployment solutions has heralded the arrival of many competing products.

Against this confusing backdrop, the standards-based IBM WebSphere Application Server running on open architecture Intel® Xeon® processor-based servers offers customers a competitive advantage.

The Right Solutions

No matter what demands your organization places on server-side Java technology, there is a member of the WebSphere Application Server product family to fit your needs. Small projects can benefit from using WebSphere Application Server Express. The Express product is intended for departmental type applications that employ popular technologies such as Servlets, Java Server Pages (JSPs) and Web services.

Projects that need the full capabilities of Java 2 Enterprise Edition* (J2EE) should consider WebSphere Application Server. As the foundation of the WebSphere platform and the core J2EE and Web services configuration, IBM WebSphere Application Server is optimized for ease of administration in a scalable, single-server deployment environment. This configuration is recommended for organizations that need to build and deploy message-oriented, standalone, departmental applications and Web services, but don’t require failure bypass or workload distribution.

WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment is the next level in application serving with automatic distribution of workload across multiple servers through sophisticated load balancing and clustering capabilities, including failover capability, content-based routing to deliver more effective session management and enhanced, edge-based caching capabilities. This edition includes the Tivoli Performance Viewer* which streamlines the optimization of complex environments.

Faster Developers

Due to WebSphere’s consistent programming model, developers will find familiarity as any one edition of WebSphere Application Server translates into working knowledge of the other editions. They will also appreciate WebSphere’s focus on maximizing a developer’s effectiveness with the WebSphere Studio family of integrated development environments.

Users of WebSphere Application Server Express will find WebSphere Studio Site Developer is designed for their needs. Site Developer makes it easy to collaboratively create, assemble, publish, deploy, and maintain dynamic Web applications. Developers can build and test business logic, and enhance presentation artifacts with integrated Web creation tools. Site Developer supports server-side applications that use technologies such as Servlets, Java Server Pages (JSPs), Web services and Struts. It also simplifies the task of creating visually rich web interfaces with support for Java Servers Faces (JSF) and Web Data Objects (WDO).

J2EE developers will want to consider WebSphere Studio Application Developer, which includes the necessary tools to streamline the creation of complex distributed enterprise applications. Application Developer includes all the features of Site Developer, plus full support for EJB 2.0 and deployment support for Web archive (WAR) files and enterprise archive (EAR) files. It also contains an EJB test client and a unit test environment for J2EE. Applications run faster due to its built-in profiling and logging tools that help detect performance problems early in development.

Many developers find that after the challenge of coding an application they are left with the arduous task of debugging it. WebSphere Studio streamlines this process with sophisticated problem solving tools. In addition to providing the typical debugger features (breakpoints, single stepping, data structure inspectors, etc), it allows developers to replace Java methods on-the-fly. With the hot method replace capability, code can be changed in running applications without restarting the server.

Because WebSphere Studio is built on the open framework of Eclipse*, WebSphere developers can also benefit from the many other tools created by IBM’s partners. These tools seamlessly plug into WebSphere Studio workbench and extend its functionality in many ways. WebSphere’s adherence to Java standards further increases productivity as developers can take advantage of third-party Java packages, database drivers, and vendor-specific application adapters.

Using these products applications can be created faster, will contain more functionality, exhibit lower maintenance costs and deliver a greater return on investment. Not to mention that this standards-based approach to software development allows an organization to recruit from a large pool of trained developers.

Faster Applications
The WebSphere product family helps developers build applications quickly and executes applications efficiently. WebSphere Application Server makes the most of computing resources; it is designed for optimal performance on the highly concurrent workloads of enterprise applications. With WebSphere’s fast response times you can achieve an excellent return on investment as less hardware is needed to service the same workload. Fewer low cost Intel Xeon processor-based servers, with fewer WebSphere CPU licenses means lower costs across the board—hardware, software, support, and operational.

With its Intel NetBurst® microarchitecture, large integrated caches and Hyper-Threading Technology1, the Intel Xeon processor is an excellent WebSphere deployment platform. WebSphere makes the most of this architecture by using sophisticated static analysis and execution time profiling techniques to generate code that works seamlessly with the processor’s branch prediction and speculative load circuitry (loading memory before it is needed). Furthermore, Java performance is increased with the processor’s large caches and data prefetching capabilities (to pre-populate the cache).

The large on-chip caches of Intel Xeon processors help applications achieve better throughput and utilization of memory bandwidth. IBM and Intel have worked closely together to ensure that WebSphere’s use of the cache dynamically adjusts based on its size. Tests have shown that an Intel Xeon processor-based server with 1MB tertiary cache runs WebSphere up to 37 percent faster than when using a 512KB cache. WebSphere further optimizes caching behavior by using an intelligent algorithm for determining the in-memory placement of Java objects--this optimizes cache utilization as objects that are grouped together by time of instantiation have better locality of reference compared to objects that are grouped randomly.

WebSphere performance is further increased with the availability of Hyper-Threading Technology (HT Technology). J2EE applications are perfect candidates to benefit from this technology as they are naturally threaded. HT Technology enables multi-threaded software applications to execute threads in parallel. This improves performance as threads can execute concurrently, resulting in better utilization of processor execution resources as compared to traditional architectures. Depending on the workload, one may expect HT Technology to improve application performance as much as 40 percent. WebSphere’s support for HT Technology is transparent to the developer as its JVM automatically generates the appropriate enabling code.

 1 - Hyper-Threading Technology requires a computer system with an Intel® Pentium® 4 processor supporting Hyper-Threading Technology and an HT Technology enabled chipset, BIOS and operating system. Performance will vary depending on the specific hardware and software you use. See for more information including details on which processors support HT Technology.

Scalable by Design
In today’s competitive market, many corporations must provide services around the clock to be successful. As it is crucial that a technology platform be built for high availability and scalability, organizations have found that deploying WebSphere on clusters of 2-way, 4-way, 8-way or higher Intel Xeon processor-based servers. This offers an effective and cost efficient solution and provides exceptional flexibility as solutions can be designed to closely match business and workload requirements. Applications can be scaled up onto larger servers to reduce machine counts and optimize performance. They can also be scaled out onto multiple, clustered servers to improve overall capacity and availability. By balancing these strategies, IT managers can scale applications appropriately to optimize performance and minimize costs.

Although managing clustered application servers is complex, WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment streamlines operations with centralized administration and deployment. It provides a single point of administrative control for all elements in a cluster. The application server enhances application scalability with workload management facilities that optimize processing of client tasks. Incoming work requests are distributed to the application servers, EJBs, Servlets, and other objects that can most effectively process the requests. Workload management provides failover when servers are not available, improving application availability.

WebSphere Application Server provides integrated performance monitoring tools which enable developers and operational personnel to have visibility into their production environment. This helps them tune the system to achieve the highest levels of performance and scalability. Each server in a cluster collects performance data in real-time, the data are then analyzed by the bundled Tivoli Performance Viewer. In addition to summarizing and presenting performance data in many useful ways, the Performance Viewer breaks new ground with its advisor mode. The advisor helps tune systems for better performance as it gives specific recommendations on how to configure WebSphere based on actual workloads.

The Competitive Edge
Given the many challenges that businesses face, it is comforting to know that navigating the maze of technology infrastructure solutions need not be one of them. By adopting products in the WebSphere family and Intel Xeon processor-based servers, organizations can benefit from using an integrated solution for developing and deploying n-tier applications. Using these products you can bring costs under control, boost developer productivity and provide the right services to your customers at the right time.

About the Author
Allan McNaughton is a patent holding technologist and veteran writer with more than fifteen years industry experience. He is the president of Technical Insight LLC*, a firm specializing in the composition of high-technology white papers. Mr. McNaughton is a frequent contributor to leading technology publications.

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