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How to Use the Integrated Web Application Server

September 15, 2010

This week’s blog was written by Mark Schroeder. Mark is the team leader of the Web Integration team and architect of the Application Runtime Expert product. He has worked in Java and Web technologies for IBM i for the past 10 years.

Are you looking for a simple way to get started with Web applications? Are you overwhelmed by the complexity of creating an application server, configuring it, and finally trying to deploy your application into the server? Do you need a simple “on ramp” to the Web? If your answer to any of those questions is yes, then the IBM integrated Web application server (IAS) may be just what you need.

IAS is a lightweight, Java software-based application server that’s integrated into the IBM i operating system. IAS provides an Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi)-based Web container where JSP and servlet-based Web applications run. Web applications running in IAS can access IBM i DB2 databases using JDBC, with support for both the native and IBM Toolbox for Java JDBC drivers.  IAS runs on the IBM Technology for Java JVM, which--combined with the modular OSGi Web container--means the server starts very fast and has a small memory footprint. The IAS server is a reliable place to run both your development and production Web environments and, since it shares some common technology with IBM’s WebSphere Application Server, once your Web application gets to the point where you need additional function and high-end performance, you can easily move it to a WebSphere environment.

But what really sets IAS apart from other application servers is how simple it is to use: creating a server and deploying Web applications is very simple. And because IAS is integrated into the IBM i operating system, there are no separate install or setup steps to get it – you already have it. Maintaining IAS with the latest fixes and updates is also simple; all updates are made via PTFs. There are no additional scripts or installers required; just load and apply the PTFs and all IAS servers are updated to the latest fix levels.

So how can you start using IAS? The easiest way to get started is by using the IBM Web Administration for i. This GUI interface makes creating and managing IAS servers easy. It provides intuitive wizards for performing tasks such as creating a new IAS server or deploying a Web application into an existing server.  Additionally, the IBM Web Administration for i provides the capability to manage many aspects of an IAS server, all from a single, easy-to-use GUI interface.

The IBM Web Administration for i is part of the Admin server that runs on every IBM i system. It can be accessed via the following URL: http://hostname:2001/HTTPAdmin.The "hostname" part of the URL is meant to be substituted with the actual host name of a customer's IBM i system.

To give you an idea of just how simple it is to start using IAS, let’s walk through an example of how to create a new IAS server. Once you have accessed the IBM Web Administration for i GUI, click on the Create Application Server link in the Common Tasks and Wizards list in the GUI’s navigation bar:

Image1

This will launch the Create Application Server wizard. The first step provides an introduction to the wizard. After clicking the Next button, you’re asked to select an application server type. To create an IAS server, select the IBM integrated Web application server for i server type:

Image2

Depending on the IBM i release, the IAS server version choice will be either V8.1 or V7.1. At this point, all that’s left between you and a fully operational IAS server are six simple steps.

Since the wizard provides very detailed information during each step, we won’t cover the entire create server wizard in detail. But here’s a brief summary of what information is required at each step in the wizard:
    Step 1: Provide a server name and description.
    Step 2: Specify the port range for the server.
    Step 3: Provide HTTP server information (name, description and IP address to listen on). The HTTP server will be the front-end Web server for the IAS application server.
    Step 4: Specify the user ID that the IAS server will run under.
    Step 5: Informational step that describes the Eclipse Help application, which is installed in every IAS server.
    Step 6: Summary of the information provided in the previous five steps.

And that’s it. Upon completion of the wizard, the IBM Web Administration for i creates and configures the IAS server and, once completed, automatically starts it. Typically, it takes a couple of minutes to create, configure and start the new server. Once the IAS server has been created, it can be managed using the IBM Web Administration for i GUI. 

Deploying applications into an IAS server is just as easy as creating a server; a wizard guides you through a few steps and, once completed, the application is deployed and automatically started for you. To deploy your application, all you need is to have it packaged into a Web Archive (WAR) file. The GUI interface will take the WAR file and convert it into the format required by IAS; this is done automatically by the GUI using a built-in conversion utility. Once the conversion is complete, the application is deployed and started. Once started, the application is ready for use.

As previously discussed, IAS is updated via PTFs. The best way to ensure you have the latest features and fixes for IAS is to apply the latest HTTP PTF group. The HTTP PTF group number for each IBM i release is:
•    IBM i 5.4: SF99114
•    IBM i 6.1: SF99115
•    IBM i 7.1: SF99368

IAS is a fast, reliable and simple way to deploy and run Web applications. The simplicity of IAS makes it an excellent on ramp to the Web by hiding much of the complexity often associated with creating, configuring and maintaining a Web application server. For more information about IAS, including a complete tutorial on creating, managing and deploying applications into an IAS server, visit the IAS product website.

Posted September 15, 2010| Permalink

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