Interview: ' Web Profile makes a good starting point.'

JBoss AS 6.0.0.Final

Jessica Thornsby

“The core architecture team of JBoss AS decided to take a different approach with AS 7.’

JBoss Application Server (AS) 6.0.0.Final
was released on
December 28th, 2010. JBoss AS 6.0.0 Final is a fully certified
implementation of the Java EE 6 Web Profile specification, but it
also introduces new, non-EE 6 functionality too. In this interview,
JAXenter speaks to Manager of the JBoss Application Server group,
Dimitris Andreadis, on the release……

JAXenter: Why did the Application Server team
decide to focus on the technologies that comprise the Web Profile,
for the AS 6.0.0.Final release?

Dimitris Andreadis: The web profile is in large
part the culmination of Red Hat innovation in the Java EE standards
space and we believe it is well suited for modern web application

The Web Profile makes a good starting point on top of which you
can layer additional Java EE technologies like JMS, JAX-WS, JAX-RS,
etc., in order to create a runtime environment sufficient for a
large class of applications. In addition, some of the remaining
technologies in the Full Profile are legacy technologies, marked
from removal in EE7.

For this reason we decided to focus our attention on rapidly
delivering a set of EE standards that is most relevant to what
developers are using today and in the near future. Also, since the
concept of profiles is new to Java EE, shipping the Web Profile
first is a good way to measure the community interest in the Web
vs. the Full EE 6 profile so we can plan our next steps.

JAXenter: What are some non-EE 6 features
included in this release?

Dimitris Andreadis: There are numerous
improvements in JBoss AS 6.0 in almost all areas of the server, as
most subsystems have been upgraded in relation to AS 5.1.

The clustering infrastructure has had some notable changes.
We’ve replaced JBoss Cache with Infinispan which reduces the
replication overhead and scales a lot better. Infinispan, however,
is a lot more than a distributed cache. It’s a platform by itself
designed for the creation of massive data grids for the cloud era.
Moreover, we have included support for mod_cluster so that JBoss
clusters can form dynamically behind an apache httpd server and
exchange load-balancing and deployment information. JBoss should
also work with IPv6 addresses.

There are many non-EE features introduced through EE components,
like HornetQ replacing JBoss Messaging as the JMS provider,
bringing with it capabilities like support for huge messages,
advanced clustering scenarios and automatic message redistribution,
as well as unmatched performance characteristics including an
ultra-fast native persistence back-end. The feature list of HornetQ
is impressive so better check out the specific project

Same goes for Hibernate, as our default JPA provider, or JBossWS
as the Web Services provider which now bundles Apache CXF,
replacing JBoss WS Native as the default back-end

JBoss AS6 includes the latest in terms of JBoss Microcontainer
technologies and you will notice several improvements in the form
of a reduced memory footprint and shorter boot times. Some
subsystem are lazily started upon first usage, like the management
consoles, so overall the server should feel somewhat lighter than
AS 5.1.

But then, the notion of a lightweight server will be redefined
with the introduction of the next generation of JBoss AS that the
team is already working on.

JAXenter: Development began on AS 7 before AS 6
was final. What is the reason for having the development of these
two releases overlap?

Dimitris Andreadis: To answer this question we
need to provide a bit of background first. Historically, JBoss AS
has been built in an additive fashion where new functionality was
added to the server as the specs and the technologies evolved or
contributions came from the community. We have rarely removed
technologies and even in major refactorings, like in AS 5, we’ve
managed to change the underlying kernel in a compatible way so we
could keep most of the peripheral subsystems untouched. However,
maintaining all these legacy technologies requires an increasing
amount of abstractions and that adds up to the footprint of the

Moreover, while a lot of our existing users appreciate the
configuration model of JBoss that provides access to literally
every small detail in the server, there is a large group of users
migrating to JBoss from other proprietary vendors that are used to
a more traditional domain type model of configuration management.
Satisfying both classes of users while improving the usability and
manageability characteristics of the server, thus making JBoss AS
more appealing to administrators and operations people, meant that
we would have to make some serious changes to the underlying
configuration and management infrastructure.

Based on the above, the core architecture team of JBoss AS
decided to take a different approach with AS 7: start off with an
improved re-incarnation of the jboss kernel (called Modular Service
Container) and a small supporting set of libraries that implement
the base runtime with the enhanced configuration and management
capabilities, then sanitize and add back the services that are
still relevant in order to create a leaner and faster server.

So this is a great clean-up act that was long due and a period
of parallel development between the AS6 & AS7 streams was
necessary in order to minimize the risks and validate the base
assumptions of the new architecture.

JAXenter: What features are planned for the
next release, AS 7, and when to expect it?

Dimitris Andreadis: The next major milestone
for AS7 is a Beta release sometime in the spring timeframe. Whereas
AS7 Alpha1 has been mostly about demonstrating the
configuration/management features and the overall architecture,
while integrating core services (like JNDI, JMS/HornetQ,
JCA/IronJacamar, JTA/JBossTS, OSGi, initial Servlet/JBossWeb
support etc), AS7 Beta is about presenting a more complete server
that initially targets the Java EE 6 Web Profile, thus adding back
support for EJB3, CDI, Clustering, etc.

So to conclude, the future is bright but the present is also
compelling. AS 6.0 Final is out there, please go ahead and use it,
tell us what you think and help us iron out any issues you may find
by discussing them in the JBoss Forums. Upgrading from AS 5.1
should be relatively straightforward.

As always, a big thanks to the community that has been following
closely and contributing to the development of AS6.

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