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From Jeremy Boynes <>
Subject Re: Config management and installation
Date Tue, 17 May 2005 02:34:03 GMT
toby cabot wrote:
> On Sun, May 15, 2005 at 01:48:54PM -0700, Jeremy Boynes wrote:
>>I was going to include background here but thought it was easier to 
>>place it directly on the wiki. It can be found at:
> Thanks, Jeremy, it's cool to get some insight into the "whys and
> wherefores" that the code can't always convey.  I've got a couple of
> questions about the wiki page, probably based on me failing to make a
> required intuitive leap.  You make the point that Geronimo's
> architecture is designed to support remote management, but I didn't
> get a good sense of why or how the old (i.e. uninverted) architecture
> fails to support remote management, especially given that most telecom
> OSS/BSS systems are built on the old architecture, yet they seem to
> allow for remote large-scale network node management.
> I guess I don't understand how configuring applications is more or
> less amenable to large-scale network management than configuring
> servers (especially as a big NMS would call Geronimo itself an
> "application").  Later in the page it seems like you're trying to
> point out that Geronimo has more of a "pull" model in that it can pull
> components from a trusted external source.  That would be cool in that
> it would allow a fleet of Geronimo servers to do on their own a big
> part of what a traditional NMS would do for other j2ee servers.
> It would really help me (and probably others) "get it" if you could
> provide an example of how the traditional architecture falls down and
> the application-centric architecture succeeds.

I'll admit it's been a while, but the basic principal of an NMS as I 
remember it is that the network elements themselves are dumb - they 
basically do nothing by themselves, the configuration of each one is 
controlled by the NMS. The NOC has a picture of how the global network 
is operating and, using the NMS, can reconfigure the elements as needed 
to maintain the quality of service.

This is the architecture we are trying to recapture in Geronimo.

In a massive deployment, each server basically comprises of only a 
pristine kernel and a local configuration manager (analogous to element 
firmware). When it comes online, it is recognized by the global 
application manager and dynamically configured to play the correct role 
in the global application environment (just like the NMS configures the 
element). As workload conditions change, the central manager can 
reconfigure each server as needed.

This is different to the traditional application server, think Jetty as 
an example (I hope Greg does not mind me picking on him). There each 
server maintains its own configuration and the administration model is 
one of going to the server (physically, via ssh, JMX remoting or a web 
console) and configuring it. The setup of each server is defined by its 
local configuration not by the external controller.

This works well for single servers or small clusters, but does not scale 
to massive deployments. However, the Geronimo model can be scaled down 
simply by having a very simple manager running inside a standalone 
server. For example, the current setup uses the FileConfigurationList to 
automatically configure the kernel at startup so that it is runs the 
last known running set of configurations.

A couple of final points. Yes, an NMS would call Geronimo an 
application; but also, the Geronimo architecture itself does not 
distinguish between configuration bundles for "system" services (e.g. 
the J2EE stack) and those for "applications" (e.g. a config generated by 
webapp deployment). The ultimate vision is that the kernel itself 
becomes ubiquitous and it is the configuration bundles that get moved 
around by some NMS.

Secondly, you can get a long way there by layering this on top of an 
existing architecture. For example, using web services or JMX you can do 
a lot of reconfiguration of running servers. However, we tried to build 
this in at the very core.

Thirdly, there are commercial systems out there that work a little bit 
this way. For example, (at least this is how I understand it), BEA 
WebLogic has this central management model at a cluster level where from 
a central console you can reconfigure any member server; IBM also has 
this in WebSphere ND and goes further with XD. In both, AIUI, you 
interact with the controller and not the individual servers.

Fourthly, the "pull" stuff is really intended for small to medium size 
deployments (where there isn't the full NMS). The idea is that resources 
can be staged to a trusted server in the production environment and that 
the runtime servers will pull from there. It also helps in a development 
environment where there are a load of unmanaged development servers; 
developers can install the app the need to integrate/test with and not 
have to worry about where all the dependencies will come from.

I hope that helps clarify things. We definitely need to do more of this 
and rely less on the raw code.


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