Hands-on with Oracle WebLogic on the Microsoft Azure Cloud

    By: Eric Mader on Dec 20, 2016

    By Eric Mader

    In high school, I worked a couple of summers as an apprentice in the computer department for a county public works division. Like many organizations, all servers and workstations ran some version of Windows. Because I was pretty low on the organization chart and still very much learning the ropes, I was primarily tasked with helping users with the ubiquitous Windows problems: bad drivers, blue screens of death, lockups, printer problems … ugh!

    When I first started learning the Microsoft Azure cloud, those days of working desktop support instantly came to mind. However, after spending just a couple of hours with Azure, it was hard to believe that the same company that caused me so much grief with Windows 2000 had created this service. Azure is extremely stable, fast, has a very slick web interface and, dare I say, is very cool and kind of fun to use!

    Azure represents Microsoft’s pivot from its traditional business of operating systems and desktop software. So far, the pivot has been a huge success: Azure has made Microsoft the No. 2 cloud company behind Amazon Web Services and is expected to take the No. 1 spot within the next few years.

    One of the big reasons for this success is the ability to quickly and easily run non-Microsoft products on Azure. Through the Azure Marketplace, customers can find a multitude of natively developed third-party products and tools, running on both Windows and Linux virtual machines. Of course, one of the major third parties on Azure is Oracle.

    Oracle provides several virtual machines on the Azure Marketplace, all of which are built on Oracle Linux. This includes several versions of the base operating system image, both Standard and Enterprise Editions of Database and, of course, WebLogic 12.1.2. Oracle no longer supports the use of Windows virtual machines on Azure.

    WebLogic is deployed as a virtual machine to Azure, which means that administrators can SSH into the operating system and directly manage the entire WebLogic deployment as if it were running in the local data center. During the deployment process, the Azure portal will prompt for basic configuration details about the WebLogic server, including the name, a Linux username and subscription information. Depending on security requirements, administrators can provide an SSH public key rather than using a shared password for the Linux user.

    The WebLogic virtual machine can be deployed on a multitude of different platform sizes, depending on requirements and budget. The Azure portal provides estimated monthly prices for each virtual machine size. However, this price does not include any Oracle licensing, which must be obtained through the normal Oracle sales channels.

    If disk I/O is a concern for the applications to be deployed on WebLogic, then select the premium (SSD) disk type. However, for most WebLogic deployments, the standard disk type is likely sufficient. Also, the portal gives the option to create availability sets of two or more virtual machines in order for the deployment to be eligible for the 99.95 percent SLA. If this is required, create two virtual machines using the WebLogic 12.1.2 image and configure clustering at the WebLogic domain level. Note that the SLA only applies to the virtual machine uptime and not the actual WebLogic domain.

    After the creation process is complete, the portal will provide a public IP address for the new virtual machine. This public IP address will have TCP port 22 open. Use the public IP address, plus the password or private key, in a preferred SSH client to connect to the virtual machine.

    Before creating a WebLogic domain, ensure that the Oracle Linux operating system has been updated. Of course, this requires root access, which may be obtained by using the sudo utility:

    > sudo su -

    The Oracle Public YUM repository is enabled, and no additional configuration should be necessary to receive updates. Also, note that SELinux enforcing mode is enabled by default and may be disabled if desired.

    All of the Oracle product binaries have been installed to the /opt/oracle/products/Middleware directory. The Oracle JDK is also installed to the virtual machine and is located in the /opt/oracle/products/jdk1.7.0_25 directory. Before proceeding with the domain configuration, download the latest update to the 1.7.0 JDK from My Oracle Support patch ID 13079846 for Linux x86-64. At the time of writing, the latest version is Update 101.

    Extract the .tar.gz archive to the products directory, then create a symbolic link called jdk-default that points to the new installation:

    > cd /opt/oracle/products

    > tar –xzf jdk-7u101-linux-x64.tar.gz

    > ln -s jdk1.7.0_101 jdk-default

    Then, update the commEnv.sh script to use the symbolic link path to the JDK. This simplifies future upgrades of the JDK:

    > sed –i ‘s/jdk1.7.0_25/jdk-default/g’ /opt/oracle/products/Middleware/oracle_common/common/bin/commEnv.sh

    The virtual machine is now ready for the WebLogic domain deployment. This is performed using the standard config.sh utility, which may require a VNC connection or X11 forwarding if the GUI configuration wizard is desired. After the deployment process completes, refer to the latest Critical Patch Update bulletin on My Oracle Support. This bulletin will list any patches that should be applied to a 12.1.2 environment in order to ensure the maximum reliability and security of the domain.

    The WebLogic domain management and operation is really no different from any other WebLogic 12.1.2 environment. Most administrative actions may still be performed through the browser-based WebLogic administration console. However, middleware administrators should be much more aware of security when deploying to Azure. In particular, be very careful how ports are exposed through the virtual machine’s public IP address. If a port must be exposed, specify a trusted IP address or range to better control which clients may access the port. If possible, shut down all port mappings and configure a point-to-site or site-to-site VPN tunnel to the virtual network.

    The Azure Marketplace also provides a load balancer service, which allows for the configuration of layer four load balancing on an Azure virtual network. Utilize this service for WebLogic client traffic, especially for clustered, multi-machine deployments.

    Azure billing is very predictable. With a pay-as-you-go subscription, customers are only charged when a virtual machine is online and running, and all virtual machine templates are labeled with estimated monthly costs before deployment. At any time, the entire infrastructure may be deleted without incurring any additional charges. Note, however, that this does not apply to any necessary Oracle licensing.

    The future is definitely in the cloud, and middleware administrators will be key players for any organization’s transition. Microsoft Azure is a very powerful cloud platform that continues to grow and will prove to be a powerful platform for any middleware migration. WebLogic workloads perform very impressively on the Oracle-provided virtual machine, and the Azure Portal provides a powerful set of tools to quickly build and manage an IaaS deployment for Oracle Middleware.

    Best of all: Blue screens of death are not included!   

    Released: December 20, 2016, 1:45 pm | Updated: June 2, 2017, 9:33 am
    Keywords: Department | #Middleware

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