links for 2005-11-28

November 28, 2005

links for 2005-11-24

November 24, 2005

links for 2005-11-23

November 23, 2005

links for 2005-11-22

November 22, 2005

links for 2005-11-19

November 19, 2005

Developers that use WebLogic Server instances that are in a cluster are (or should be) pretty familiar with how servers communicate with one another using multicast and sockets. Multicast or IP multicast is a simple broadcast technology that enables multiple applications to subscribe to a given IP address and port number and listen for messages. The IP/port combination is setup when the cluster is defined and server instances uses multicast for JNDI updates and cluster heartbeats. A WebLogic server uses multicast to broadcast regular heartbeat messages that advertise its availability in the cluster. If you have a cluster in a network segment where multicast isn’t working, you have weird problems.

I recently ran into an issue that took days to fix because the utility provided by WebLogic to debug multicast problems, MulticastTest is broken. As part of a datacenter move, we were moving 2 servers running Linux and WebLogic. In the past, the 2 servers were in 2 different data-centers but were part of the same VLAN, which essentially simulated a subnet. Both servers acted like they were in the same network segment even though they were geographically separated in 2 different data-centers. As part of the move, the VLAN that connected these servers was removed but the routers were configured to move multicast traffic so that the WebLogic server instances running on these 2 servers could see each other and cluster together and offer failover, etc. When the servers were moved and disconnected from the VLAN, weird things started to happen that would cause application hangs, stuck threads, etc. Suspecting a network issue, I fire up the MulticastTest utility on both sides to see if the multicast is working. The syntax is pretty straightforward:

$ java utils.MulticastTest -n server1 -a 224.x.x.x p 9001

Once you start this on server1, you go to server2 and fire up the same utility with server2 as the name and the same multicast IP/port combination. If multicast is working correctly and the routers aren’t dropping it, server1 should see broadcast from server2 and vica versa. But we didn’t see that and so our network guys spent time figuring out why our routers weren’t routing that traffic over. After some configuration changes and new IP range that wasn’t using the obsolete RIP range, I got the all-clear to try again. So I fire up the MulticastTest utility again and server1 still couldn’t see server2. So the network guys try again and they still no issues and we cannot figure out why the test utility is not working. After spending hours on that, we decide to just fire up the WebLogic server instances on server 1 and 2 and guess what: multicast is working. WebLogic server instances on server1 see server1 and 2 and vice versa WTF. So I try the MulticastTest utility and it’s still not working. I made the assumption that the MulticastTest utility would be using the same codebase as the WebLogic server but I guess it’s not as the utility is broken. Another issue is that the MulticastTest utility does not let you specify the multicast TTL (time-to-live) and that may be the issue on a WAN. I’ve submitted this as a bug to support and hope they fix it in the next service pack. (The version of WebLogic involved here is WebLogic 8.1 SP4).

WebLogic, cluster, multicast, vlan

links for 2005-11-16

November 16, 2005

I just found out about something new from del.icio.us called tagrolls via the del.icio.us blog

PS: If you are reading this via a feed reader, chances are you are not seeing anything as the tagroll functionality is implemented in JavaScript. Please click here to visit this blog entry in your browser

tags, tagrolls, del.icio.us

I just read about Google’s latest offering, Google Analytics via Seth Godin’s blog. Like other offerings in this space, Google Analytics sits in your website as a snippet of JavaScript that captures relevant information and presents it back with intelligence. It’s really interesting, as I’ve been playing around with MeasureMap to see what they offer. I’ve always been interested in these types of analytics to get a little more data besides that standard or extended webserver logs offer.

In my journey to usage analytics, I started with Dean Allen’s Refer tool that tracked basic usage like referrers, search engine usage and it persisted the raw data in the database so that you could use that for additional reports. I used Refer for years before discovering Shaun Inman’s Mint. Mint is a PHP based that provides analytics on your site usage including browsers, referrers, page usage and many others. Mint is also extensile as it has an open-API that enables developers to write Peppers to extend and add additional functionality. Mint cost $30.00 per site but does offer some great functionality.

Just recently, I got an invite to test Adaptive Path’s MeasureMap. MeasureMap is comparable to Mint with a lot of new features still under development. At this point, Mint and MeasureMap are comparable but I am guessing MeasureMap will soon leapfrog Mint in terms of functionality. It’s also funny to see how these Web2.0 apps are getting all the attention when there are tons of old applications that essentially do the same thing, without Ajax.

Future & Issues

Now that Google is jumping into this space, I think it’s going to throw the whole space into turmoil. How do you justify paying $30.00 for Mint and whatever MeasureMap is going to charge vs. getting the same service from Google? I guess I am jumping the gun on the functionality Google is going to offer, as I haven’t been able to get in Google’s site since I signed up this morning.

Another major issue is see with the current approach of using JavaScript is the lack of total coverage. For security reasons, people disable client-side JavaScript. Sophisticated users would disable JavaScript not coming from the host that the content is being loaded from. So you are potentially missing a part of our audience in this measurement. Functionality like Adblock is another major issue Adblock allows you to remove ads from websites and most people I know (including me) use it to disable JavaScript as included js files from being loaded as well. On my blog, 90% of the traffic is from people that load my RSS/ATOM feed in a feed-reader of their choice. The JavaScript solutions are not really doing anything for the feed-readers. I know I track usage in numbers using a single pixel image in my RSS feed but that’s not a real solution. I’m interested to see how Google does in this space and if it ends up killing MeasureMap, Mint and many other commercial ventures out there.

Web2.0, Mint, MeasureMap, Google, Google+Analytics, JavaScript, Adblock, web usage

Found this item on Robin Covers must-read XML.org Daily Newslink. Last month, Reuters unveiled a new XML-based secure trade notification system that enables financial institutions to manage their trading capital and risk exposures better as well as improve operational efficiency. Reuters’ service, already selected by Lehman Brothers, offers a trade messaging hub to make a variety of financial integrations easier and cheaper. At its core, Reuters Trade Notification Service (RTNS) is a trade messaging hub that facilitates the electronic transfer of all trade related messages. The service is already operational and is undergoing a controlled introduction. RTNS will initially focus on trade affirmation and confirmation, and will be expanded to cover allocation and settlement instructions, amongst others. The service will support industry standard message formats such as FIX, FPML, as well as FIX and TWIST. FpML provides an overall template for execs in other vertical industries how they might map XML (schema and transmission) concerns to their needs for dataflow, business rules and access control. The FpML standard, which is freely licensed under the FpML public license, is intended to automate the flow of information across the entire derivatives partner and client network, independent of the underlying software or hardware infrastructure supporting the activities related to these transactions.

Links of interest:

FIX, FPML, TWIST, XML, Teuters, RTNS, Robin Cover, messaging, schema

links for 2005-11-10

November 10, 2005

dev2dev: Demystifying SAML

November 9, 2005

Demystifying SAML by Harold Lockhart — Continuing our look at security standards, Hal Lockhart explores SAML, the Security Assertion Markup Language. Using Identity Federation as a driver, Hal shows why SAML is now a critical requirement of modern networked environments.

java, security, SAML

links for 2005-11-09

November 9, 2005