Oracle 10g Application Server, what’s the deal?


I’m begining to dislike Oracle 10g Application Server. That’s my polite and understated way of saying I loath, detest and hate it!

Before I move on I want to make it clear I’m a major fan of Oracle databases. I think Oracle consistently hit the nail on the head with respect to new database releases. Yes, they have a habit of adding chaff and bloat, but the core functionality is on the money every time.

I’ve been using Oracle’s application servers for a little over 2 years. My first experience was with 9iAS and if I ever see an installation of that again I will probably go on a killing spree. It’s like Oracle took a bunch of cool software, cobbled it together and made it totally unusable. If people ask me what 9iAS is like my immediate response is, “It’s an abortion!”.

When AS10g was released we moved to it right away. We had no choice, 9iAS didn’t work. For some months I basked in the glow of it’s brilliance, but little did I know the horrors that were waiting round the corner. Rather than list whats wrong with AS10g let’s look at it from another angle, let’s list what we want from an application server:

  • Reliability.
  • Speedy deployment of new applications.
  • Easy configuration.
  • High availability.
  • Simple problem diagnostics.
  • Simple performance monitoring.

The problem is AS10g gives me none of these. Let’s take these points one by one.

Reliability – We have logged untold amounts of bugs against AS10g, most of which have never been fixed to our satisfaction.

Speedy deployment of new applications – Our applications are pretty small and not exactly rocket science, but deployments to our 5 node application server cluster can take hours. You think I’m joking don’t you. I’m not! It’s not unheard of for us to lose our entire production system for a couple of hours during a deployment. Invariable a couple of nodes don’t deploy properly. By the time we’ve undeployed and redeployed the application, along with a few reboots, the user have packed up and gone home.

Easy configuration – Ok, it’s not the worst thing in the world, but there are so many products and layers to deal with that it becomes a nightmare if you want to do anything but the simplest application. I’ve just checked with one of my production app servers and it has 296 distinct log files. When someone asks me, “Are there any errors in the logs?”, it always brings a smile to my face.

High availability – I’ve already told you what happens when we deploy new applications! We have a 5 node cluster to make our application more resilient and maintain availability. Pitty we have to reboot before and after every application deployment. Until recently we were rebooting each app server once a day, but we’ve managed to get that down to once a week, provided we’re not deploying new versions of the application.

Simple problem diagnostics – Too many log files. Too many layers. We were hoping that grid control would come to our rescue, but it doesn’t work properly. I don’t even want to go there. You can read my earlier posts about that crap.

Simple performance monitoring – See previous answer. We’ve ended up writing some of our own tools. Sad I know!

I’m starting to depress myself so I’m going to knock this post on the head soon, but suffice to say, if I had my way we would ditch the lot and use Apache and PHP. No overcomplicated application servers and no J2EE. Simple, reliable and free!

I guess I can dream…



PS. For those of you that are assuming we’re just using it wrong, the consultants we’ve had in from HP and Oracle can’t make it work any better, so I guess we’re in good company πŸ™‚

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

8 thoughts on “Oracle 10g Application Server, what’s the deal?”

  1. Deployment has been major PITA. I had to sit with the developers every time when they would deploy their .ear file during the development phase. Some times it would go through without any glitch, but most of the time (6 out of 10) the container gets corrupted and won’t allow you to create another, throwing some absurd error. Lots of iTAR and web conferencing would leave developers waiting to see their code in action with no fruitful outcome.

    The workaround we found was to keep two separate windows machines each hosting one application server (not the infrastructure). So if one goes down, quickly deploy on to the second one and then reinstall the AS on the first server. It’s quicker than raising an iTAR and waiting for response.

    And during the deployment on the main HP server we kept praying till the time testers give thumbs up sign.

    Another thing that irks me is that the whole thing is so huge and hogs so much of memory that it becomes difficult to keep all the components on one machine. This causes use of low end servers for development.

  2. It’s like we have lived the same life. I think we should start a “victims support group” to help ourselves and others learn how to live again πŸ™‚

    We have considered splitting our production cluster into a 2-node and a 3-node cluster to make the deployment process a little less risky, but when you take into account our load balancing and citrix clients etc. that option isn’t that appealing either.

    I’ve just come to the conclusion it’s a terrible product. What’s worse, nobody at Oracle seems to understand it either. Lots of people understand little pieces of it, but since it’s so intertwined it’s hard to find somebody who can understand the poduct as a whole.




  3. I blame you Tim πŸ˜‰ !
    I normally avoid application servers but today a customer came back to tell of us a system I desgined over 3 years ago did not work properly and we obviously installed it incorrectly, so could we come in a reinstall it!
    I bet they read this and decided to upgrade their j2ee application which would not install


    BTW in Brum today and did not see you!

  4. Don’t shoot the messenger πŸ™‚

    Re: Brum.

    I’m easy to spot. Shout AS10g and the guy that ducks the quickest will be me πŸ™‚

    What you doing in Brum? Something fun I hope!



  5. Indeed yes it was hot – They have a brand new building five minutes walk from New Street. It was so cold there their in house flock of penguins were shivering. Air con rules!

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