Enterprises are choosing Java 2, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) to deliver their mission-critical applications over the Web. Within the J2EE framework, clusters provide mission-critical services to ensure minimal downtime and maximum scalability. A cluster is a group of application servers that transparently run your J2EE application as if it were a single entity. To scale, you should include additional machines within the cluster. To minimize downtime, make sure every component of the cluster is redundant.
In this article we will gain a foundational understanding of clustering, clustering methods, and important cluster services. Because clustering approaches vary across the industry, we will examine the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. Further, we will discuss the important cluster-related features to look for in an application server.
To apply our newly acquired clustering knowledge to the real world, we will see how HP Bluestone Total-e-Server 7.2.1, Sybase Enterprise Application Server 3.6, SilverStream Application Server 3.7, and BEA WebLogic Server 6.0 each implement clusters.
In Part 2 of this series, we will cover programming and failover strategies for clusters, as well as test our four application server products to see how they scale and failover.