Oracle CAF targets dynamic cloud app development and deployment

Michael Azoff, Principal Analyst, Ovum, Software Solutions Group

Oracle Cloud Application Foundation (CAF) is an out-of-the-box, pre-integrated cloud infrastructure solution built around Oracle WebLogic Server (WLS). Release 12c of Oracle CAF is now generally available and is designed for building cloud-based, dynamic enterprise applications.

In addition to WLS 12c, the release comprises Oracle Coherence 12c, Oracle Tuxedo 12c, Oracle Traffic Director/Web Tier 12c, and Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder, along with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, and Oracle Development Tools 12c. The solution is available for both private and public cloud deployments, but Oracle Coherence 12c availability in Oracle Cloud (Oracle’s public cloud offering) is expected to be released later in 2013.

There are a host of new features in Oracle CAF, but of particular interest are features that address two essential aspects of dynamic cloud applications: the effects of disrupted connectivity, and the need for managing back-end enterprise data sources. Oracle CAF will be a welcome addition for Oracle stack customers, making it easier to exploit cloud platforms, and build cloud-ready enterprise applications.

Oracle CAF’s application continuity manages connectivity outages

One of the frustrations for developers building database transactional cloud applications is how to deal with connectivity outages, which can result in a session losing touch with any number of possible components (database instances, database nodes, storage, or network). In particular, there is the challenge of managing the outage through the application and infrastructure without exposing it to the end user.

Oracle Application Continuity is designed to deal with events such as these and recover live transactions, with the user experiencing only a slight delay. This feature was first introduced in Oracle Database 12c, and is ideal for dynamic cloud applications where connectivity disruption may be more frequent. It is also applicable for planned outages. The technology is based on a replay mechanism that attempts to rebuild the open sessions.

Oracle Database 12c Application Continuity uses Transaction Guard to communicate to the application layer, such as WLS running applications, to enable applications running on WLS to transparently replay transactions without requiring any changes to the customer-facing application.

The technology manages the application and the user, avoiding repeating a disrupted transaction and causing further problems as Oracle Application Continuity attempts to resolve the outage. It manages the end-user experience and provides information on the last transaction during and after a disruption.

Applying a back-end runtime for the cloud

The 12.1.2 release is a major refresh for Oracle WebLogic Server (WLS) 12c and related products, including Oracle Coherence (which is getting its first 12c release), and Oracle Enterprise Manager (known as Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Release 3).

In summary, the new enhancements provide an easier, declarative means for supporting elasticity (dynamically scaling clusters up and down based on demand), and improvements for keeping data caches current. Specifically, the features include a common management framework bridging Oracle WLS and Oracle Coherence that simplify the development of cloud scaling logic, and the new HotCache feature, involving integration of Oracle Coherence and Oracle GoldenGate (Oracle’s realtime data replication tool) that keeps Oracle Coherence in-memory data caches up to date with changes in the back-end database.

This feature addresses an issue with Java-based in-memory data grids in that while they ease I/O bottlenecks against the back-end database, they must be periodically refreshed. The new capability automates this process and enables a new feature, Oracle Coherence Live Events, which allows applications to become event-driven (with, for example, activity triggered by updates to the in-memory data cache).

Oracle WLS has also been updated to support the new multi-tenancy features of Oracle Database 12c. Specifically, it now recognizes the new mechanisms of database “containers” that may each contain up to 256 individual (pluggable) database instances. The enhancement allows a single connection pool in WLS to connect with a single Oracle Database container, which reduces operational complexity and bottlenecks that might otherwise become inevitable when multiple databases are consolidated into a cloud-based instance.

The result is that Oracle WLS users requiring elasticity have several paths for scaling dynamically. They can use the Java developer-friendly in-memory data grid, or can go straight to the database, which has been engineered for multitenancy. In the past, the use of in-memory data grids was the default choice, especially for scenarios involving highly variable traffic. With the added database option, Oracle should develop design patterns and best practices to help developers choose which path to elasticity to take.

Oracle Development Tools 12c bring tooling up to date with WLS 12c

Oracle JDeveloper is the development platform for building Java/Java EE applications specifically optimized to run on Oracle Fusion Middleware, and it has now enhanced support for Maven and Git, as well as supporting open web standards (HTML5, CSS3, REST). New features include a dependency explorer and a memory and CPU profiler. Oracle CAF now also supports the latest Eclipse edition with Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse.

Mobile app development is increasingly important for the enterprise, and the latest edition of Oracle ADF Faces Components is optimized for mobile devices. Oracle ADF Mobile can also connect to Oracle CAF through REST/JSON APIs, through web services, and now with WebSockets for enhanced open web standards support.

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