Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Concourse Pipeline for PCF 2.0 + NSX-T Add-on Tile

Users of Pivotal Cloud Foundry 2.0 ( renamed from ERT to PAS) and VMware NSX-T Container Plug-in Tile can use the nsx-t-ci-pipeline Concourse pipeline and scripts to bring up a fully configured Ops Mgr 2.0 with PAS and NSX-T. Users can choose to go either with just the base install of PAS or the full install of MySQL, Rabbit MQ and SCS service tiles in addition to the PAS install.

Versions installed:

Pivotal Operations Manager: 2.0.x
Pivotal Application Service (formerly ERT): 2.0.x
NSX-T Container Plug-in Tile: 2.1.x
Spring Cloud Service: 1.5.x
MySQL: 1.10.x
RabbitMQ: 1.11.x

  1. Install and configure NSX-T with T0 Router and T1 Routers along with separate logical switches for Infra, Ert, Services, Dynamic-Services (following the standard PCF NSX Reference arch).  The concourse pipeline does not install or configure NSX-T.
  2. Clone the repo or just create local copy.
  3. Use an existing concourse install or bring up a new concourse instance (scripts available to create one). The concourse install can use github based auth to allow access. Configure the bosh director and cloud configs first to bring up Bosh director followed by configuring the concourse portion and bring up Concourse.
  4. Configure the parameters required for the pipeline (sample params file available in the repo under pipelines/params.sample.yml).
  5. NSX-T Container Plug-in tile is available from VMware site but not yet on network.pivotal.io. Till it becomes directly available for download as a Pivnet resource, download it from other sources (VMware or friendly SE contacts) and upload it to a S3 bucket for reference from the pipeline.
  6. Register and run the pipeline. Edit the pipelines/setup.sh script as needed to edit the concourse endpoint and pipeline, params etc.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Spring One Platform 2017 Session on PCF & NSX

Check out the video recording and presentation of Pivotal Cloud Foundry and VMware NSX-T integration at the recently conducted Spring One Platform 2017 session:

PCF in the Land of NSX: A Closer Look at PCF with NSX-V vs. NSX-T

Comments, feedback welcome.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Restitution of ThreadLogic, a Java Thread Dump Analysis tool

I had been busy with Cloud Foundry in general and Pivotal in particular for the past 4 years and haven't had a chance to work or contribute on ThreadLogic, the Java thread dump analysis tool I created, since leaving Oracle. For folks who don't know about ThreadLogic, they can check out the older ThreadLogic related blog posts on this site.

In the meantime, java.net projects site has been shuttered and all references to ThreadLogic has vanished including the tool and docs. Going over the various blog posts and questions, it appeared that users really miss the tool. I have decided to bring it back alive and host it on ThreadLogic Github Repo so users can continue to use it and I can continue to add advisory patterns for newer thread interactions and hope it would be of use to most Java and Enterprise users. The newly re-versioned 2.5.1 is available here.

I would sincerely appreciate it if users can share feedbacks and samples of their thread dumps either as posts or gists or via filing issues on the above Github url so we can add those patterns and advisories that would allow the tool to grow richer with more known patterns and more usage.

Just to be aware, I haven't had a chance to run a full bunch of tests against recent versions of Java (1.8 from Oracle/IBM..) thread dumps. So, there can be problems and errors in handling those thread dumps. Kindly let me know and I will try to fix those issues. Thanks for your patience and consideration.

Feedback, comments and questions on ThreadLogic welcome as always.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Automating NSX Integration with PCF

Customers using Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) with VMware NSX (SDN Solution) can now automate the creation of NSX Edge Gateway instances with a pre-configured set of subnets and Load balancers for various PCF tiles/products components. nsx-edge-gen helps automate the creation of NSX Edge instances pre-configured for PCF, while nsx-ci-pipeline helps install core set of PCF products integrated with NSX using the Concourse pipeline respectively.


Pivotal Cloud Foundry is a Cloud Foundry Platform for running cloud native applications on various IaaS (like vSphere, AWS, GCP, Azure, Openstack). 

Customers using VMware NSX as the SDN solution and vSphere as the IaaS, configuring NSX Edge instances for networking and load balancing requires multiple manual steps to create different networks for logical partitioning of different PCF products, create and configure NSX edge instances with these subnets, virtual servers etc. in order to get PCF Platform up and running. Creation of a NSX Edge can be tricky and time consuming and repeating it for creation of multiple PCF Foundations is quite a labor even for experienced administrators. The manual steps are detailed in the NSX Edge Cookbook for PCF.

Reference architecture of NSX + PCF

Ref: https://docs.pivotal.io/pivotalcf/1-11/refarch/images/vsphere-overview-arch.png

Ref: https://docs.pivotal.io/pivotalcf/1-11/refarch/images/vsphere-port-groups.png


NSX Edge acts as the gatekeeper to a set of logical switches and load balancers associated with a PCF Foundation (managed by one Ops Mgr and BOSH Director).

The Logical switches are associated with the subnets used by various products/layers:
  • Infrastructure - for BOSH and Ops Mgr managing the entire install
  • Deployment - for main Elastic Runtime Tile that is Cloud Foundry
  • Services - for other supporting tiles that provides services (like MySQL, RabbitMQ, SCS...)
  • Dynamic Services - for those tiles that support On-Demand Broker model of spinning of new service instances on demand.
  • Isolation Segments - for apps that require their own Routers and Diego cells for specialized hardware/routing/isolation.

Virtual servers are required with pools (application profiles, roles and monitors) to handle load balancing for components like GoRouters, Diego SSH access, MySQL proxy, RabbitMQ proxy and so on.

Additionally some generic coarse grained firewall rules can be applied at the NSX Edge instance level to allow or disallow communication between tiles/products or inbound and outbound directions (East-West and North-South). 

Creation of all these manual steps requires tedious and careful steps and repeating them for each foundation means more time and grunt work.

nsx-edge-gen Tool

Automating the NSX Edge Creation

Users can now automate the creation of the NSX edge instances with a set of logical switches, load balancers, pools that conforms to a template using the nsx-edge-gen toolkit. The tool is supported against the NSX-V (6.2.x versions, not NSX-T to be released later in 2017 or early 2018) of the VMware NSX product. 

Note: The tool does not install or configure vSphere or NSX Manager itself, only works on an existing installation and creates/deletes NSX edge instances on an existing NSX Manager.

To start with, nsx-edge-gen provides a template of logical switches and routed components as provided in the reference architecture and the user can modify it either via command line or a yaml config file.

Distributed Logical Router (DLR)

Distributed Logical Router is a special use case that allows all communication between the logical switches and subnets to avoid doing hair-pin bend across the NSX Edge and rather use the Distributed Logical router (DLR). Also, a DLR allows well above the the maximum default of 10 logical switches that can be associated with a NSX edge instance. There is an auto-generated OSPF subnet wrapping the DLR and connecting it to the NSX Edge instance. There is a 1-1-1 mapping between each NSX edge, OSPF and DLR and these are auto-created. There is no overhead cost (license or performance) due to the OSPF and DLR layers.

If the DLR option is disabled, then the standard PCF reference architecture as defined in the NSX cookbook would be used (no DLR or OSPF).

Logical switches

- name: OSPF  
- name: Infra  
- name: Ert
- name: PCF-Tiles
- name: Dynamic-Services
#- name: IsoZone-01
#  cidr:
#  primary_ip:
# - name: IsoZone-02
#   cidr:
#   primary_ip:
Additional logical switches can be added, like additional isolation segments. The subnets can also be tweaked.

Routed Components

PCF components like GoRouter, Diego Brain, MySQL Proxy require load balancer in front for HA and distribution of traffic across multiple instances. Similar requirement exists for the RabbitMQ, MySQL Tiles etc. Some others like Operations Manager (Ops Mgr for short) requires only a vip to access it.

nsx-edge-gen provides a default set of routed components with associated logical switches, offsets, number of instances for each component etc.

- id: OPS 
  name: OPS
  switch: INFRA
  external: true
  useVIP: false
  instances: 1
  offset: 5
  monitor_id: monitor-3
      port: '443'
      protocol: https
      port: '443'
      protocol: https
      monitor_port: '443'
      url: "/"
  name: GO-ROUTER
  switch: ERT
  external: true
  useVIP: true
  instances: 4
  offset: 200
  monitor_id: monitor-4
      port: '443'
      protocol: https
      port: '80'
      protocol: tcp
      monitor_port: '80'
      # protocol: http
      # monitor_port: '8080'
      # url: "/health"

One can specify whether the component needs to be external or not, number of vms hosting that component, use VIP, type of monitor (http/tcp/..), ingress and egress for the load balancer. Sample pasted above specifies Ops Manager that needs to be exposed outside via a VIP but does not require a load balancer  (single instance) and needs to run on Infra subnet. The offset determines the IP to be assigned to vms from the subnet CIDR.

Default configuration includes Ops Manager (tagged as OPS), GoRouter (GO-ROUTER), Diego Brain for ssh (DIEGO), TCP Router (TCP-ROUTER), MySQL bundled within ERT as well as the separate service Tile (as MYSQL-<type>), RabbitMQ (RABBITMQ-TILE), Iso Segment GoRouters (GO-ROUTER-ISO). Each of these components are associated with the logical switches.

The default built-in configuration is good enough for most deployments.

These components are then tied together with NSX Load balancers and pools with Application Rules and Profiles. Profile specify the ingress and egress protocol for the load balancer (LBR). For instance, GoRouter might let the LBR handle SSL termination and only allow plain traffic over Http. So, it can use the https-http profile while MySQL would use a pure tcp style profile. The Application Roles include http logging, forward, including X-Forward-Proto headers etc.


nsx-edge-gen requires user to provide some default configurations (like endpoints and credentials to vSphere and NSX Manager, Cluster, Datastore, Datacenter). Other configurations required are name of the edge, transport zone used for the logical switches, ssl certs (or allow autogeneration) for the LBRs, distributed portgroup in case of DLR enablement, uplink ips for the various components (as VIP) etc.  Multiple edge instances can be created too using the same template. 

Each NSX Edge instance would be created with a default set of firewall rules, virtual servers, pools, profiles etc. For those that have DLR enabled, there would be an OSPF network acting as the bridge between the NSX Edge and its DLR. 

Use the tool with build, list or delete options to either build a NSX Edge instance, list available instances (& logical switches and verify the parameters) or delete a specified edge instance.


Logical Switches

Firewall Rules


Virtual Servers

Additionally, based on user indicating the target BOSH environment supports NSX or not, NSX would not populate the pool members (would rather use NSX Security group association for jobs) in case of BOSh supporting NSX (as in PCF 1.11) or statically fill in the member ips based on offset and instance counts.

Customizing the configuration

Using command line arguments, its entirely possible to override the subnets, names, offsets, instances etc. Check the sample test script under the test folder of nsx-edge-gen.

echo "Use build, list, delete"
echo "Default option: list"
echo ""


./nsx-gen/bin/nsxgen -i $CONFIG_NAME init

./nsx-gen/bin/nsxgen -c $CONFIG_NAME  \
  -esg_name_1 edge1 \
  -esg_size_1 compact \
  -esg_cli_user_1 admin \
  -esg_cli_pass_1 'P1v0t4l!P1v0t4l!' \
  -esg_ert_certs_1 Foundation1 \
  -nsxmanager_dportgroup DPortGroupTest \
  -nsxmanager_en_dlr true \
  -nsxmanager_bosh_nsx_enabled true \
  -nsxmanager_tz TestTZ \
  -nsxmanager_tz_clusters 'Cluster1,Cluster2' \
  -esg_ert_certs_config_sysd_1 sys2.test.pivotal.io \
  -esg_ert_certs_config_appd_1 apps3.test.pivotal.io \
  -esg_iso_certs_1_1 iso-1 \
  -esg_iso_certs_config_switch_1_1 IsoZone-1 \
  -esg_iso_certs_config_ou_1_1 Pivotal \
  -esg_iso_certs_config_cc_1_1 US \
  -esg_iso_certs_config_domains_1_1 zone1-app.test.pivotal.io \
  -esg_opsmgr_uplink_ip_1 \
  -esg_go_router_uplink_ip_1 \
  -esg_diego_brain_uplink_ip_1 \
  -esg_tcp_router_uplink_ip_1 \
  -esg_mysql_ert_uplink_ip_1 \
  -esg_mysql_ert_inst_1 5  \
  -esg_mysql_tile_uplink_ip_1 \
  -esg_mysql_tile_inst_1 2  \
  -esg_rabbitmq_tile_uplink_ip_1 \
  -esg_rabbitmq_tile_inst_1 5 \
  -esg_rabbitmq_tile_off_1 10 \
  -vcenter_addr vcsa-01.test.pivotal.io \
  -vcenter_user administrator@vsphere.local \
  -vcenter_pass 'passwd!' \
  -vcenter_dc "" \
  -vcenter_ds vsanDatastore \
  -vcenter_cluster Cluster1 \
  -nsxmanager_addr \
  -nsxmanager_user admin \
  -nsxmanager_pass 'passwd!' \
  -nsxmanager_uplink_ip \
  -nsxmanager_uplink_port 'VM Network' \
  -esg_gateway_1  \
 -isozone_switch_name_1 IsoZone-1 \
 -isozone_switch_cidr_1 \
 -isozone_switch_name_2 IsoZone-2 \
 -isozone_switch_cidr_2 \
 -esg_go_router_isozone_1_uplink_ip_1 \
This allows the user to override the configuration using env variables without rebuilding yaml configurations for each run.

NSX CI Pipeline

The concourse pipelines built in nsx-ci-pipeline allow users to use Concourse pipeline to drive the creation of the NSX Edge instances and then install the Ops Mgr along with ERT and other Pivotal Products that leverage the NSX Edge for load balancing and or security policies.

The users can create a parameter file that is consumed by the pipeline to connect and create NSX edge instances by utilizing the nsx-edge-gen tool mentioned previously. The Ops Mgr tile would be installed after the edge creation and the networks would be auto-populated based on the recently created edge instance logical switches followed by installation of ERT and other product Tiles.

Users can either stop with just installation of the Ops Mgr (for vSphere) and ERT or go all the way with installation of MySQL, RabbitMQ, Spring Cloud Service and Isolation Segment tiles.

Just Ops Mgr and ERT:

Full Install (with MySQL, RabbitMQ, Iso Segments):

The pipeline supports both PCF 1.10 and 1.11. The Product versions, NSX connection information all these can be specified in the concourse parameters file.

With the NSX integration in PCF1.11 BOSH layer, the pipeline automatically calls Ops Mgr APIs to register the routed components with the pre-created load balancer pools along with any additional security groups specified for components that require proxy/load balancing (like GoRouters, TCP routers, mysql proxy, rabbit proxy etc.) This allows the pool to be correctly associated with the members as the platform scales up or down its components, rather than going with a static predefined set of members. The behavior is not available in 1.10 and so the pools would be statically populated with the IP addresses pre-determined by the nsx-edge-gen execution.

Multiple Isolation Segment Tiles can be installed using the add-additional-iso-segment pipeline.


Using the nsx-edge-gen and nsx-ci-pipeline, users of PCF and NSX can automate the manual steps involved in NSX Edge creation and configuration and PCF installs, while allowing a fast, easy and efficient creation of multiple NSX Edges and PCF foundations that are built to conform to a desired layout in a consistent manner. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WLS Cluster Messaging Protocols on A-Team Chronicles

Oracle A-Team has launched a new Oracle A-Team Chronicles web site for all A-Team generated content that cover architecture, product features, technical tips, performance tuning, troubleshooting and best practices on Oracle Middleware products.

There is a new blog post on WLS Cluster Messaging protocols in the A-team chronicles. For more details on it and related A-Team recommendations, kindly refer to Weblogic Server Cluster Messaging Protocols  

Friday, September 28, 2012

OSB, Service Callouts and OQL - Part 3

This final section of the series will focus on the corrective action to avoid Service Callout related OSB serer hangs. Before we dive into the solution, we need to briefly discus about Work Managers in WLS.

WLS Work Managers

WLS version 9 and newer releases use a concept of Work Managers (WM) and self-tuning of threads to schedule and execute server requests (internal or external). All WLS server (ExecuteThread) threads are held in a global self-tuning thread pool and request are associated with WMs. The threads in the global thread pool can grow or shrink based on some inbuilt monitoring and heuristics (grow when requests are piling up over a period of time or shrink when threads are sitting idle for long etc.) Once the request is finished, the threads go back to the global self-tuning pool. The Work Manager is a concept to associate a request with some scheduling policy and not a thread. There is a "default" WM in WLS that is automatically created. A copy or template of the "default" WM will be used for all  deployed applications, by default, out of the box. 

There are no dedicated threads associated with any WM. If an application decides to use a custom (non-default) WM, the requests meant for that application (like Webapp Servlet requests or EJB or MDB) will be scheduled based on its WM policies. The association of Work Manager with an application is via wl-dispatch-policy in the application descriptor. Multiple different applications can use a copy of Work Manager policy (each inherit the policies associated with that WM) or refer to their own custom WMs. 

Within a given Work Manager, there are options like Min-Thread and Max-Thread Constraints. Explaining the whole WM concept and the various constraints is beyond the scope of this blog entry. Please refer to Workload Management in WebLogic Server white paper on WMs and Thread Constraints in Work Managers blog post to understand more on Constraints and WMs. We will later refer to Custom WMs and Min-Thread Constraint for our particular problem. 

Suffice to say, use Custom Work Manager and Min-Thread Constraint (set to real low value, say 3 or 5) for a given application only under rare circumstances to avoid thread starvation issues like incoming requests requiring additional server thread to complete (as in case of Service callout requiring additional thread to complete the response notification) or loop-backs of requests (AppA makes outbound call which again lands on same server as new requests for AppB); using Min-Threads excessively can cause too many threads or inversion of priority as mentioned in the previously referred blog posting. Use Custom WM with Max-Thread Constraint only in case of MDBs (to increase number of MDB instances processing messages in parallel). 

Corrective Actions for handling Service Callouts

Now that we have seen (or detected) how Service Callouts can contribute to Stuck threads and thread starvation, there are solutions that can be implemented to make OSB gracefully recover from such situations.

1) Ensure the remote Backend Services invoked via Service callouts or Publish can scale under higher loads and still maintain response SLAs. Using the heap dump analysis, identify the remote services involved and improve their scalability and performance.

2) Use Route action whenever possible instead of the Service Callout when the actual invocation for a proxy is a single service and not multiple, and can be implemented using simple Route. Avoid Service callouts for calling co-located services that only do simple transformations or logging. Just invoke them as replace/insert/rename/log actions directly instead of using Service Callouts to achive the same result.

3) Protect OSB from thread starvation due to excessive usage of Service Callouts under load. The actual response handling is handled by an additional thread (Thread T2 in  the Service callout implementation image) for a very short duration and it just notifies the Proxy thread waiting on the Service callout response.

Now this is one good match for applying a custom Work Manager with Min-Thread Constraint we discussed earlier as there is a requirement for additional thread to complete a given request (a bit of loop-back). For the remote Business Service definition that is invoked via Service Callouts, we can associate a Custom Work Manager with Min-Thread constraint so the response handling part (T2) can use a thread to get scheduled right away due to the Min-Thread Constraint (as long as we have not hit the Min-Thread constraint) instead of waiting to be scheduled. Since the thread is really used just for a real short duration, its the right fit for our situation. The thread can pick the Service Callout response of the remote service from  the native Muxer layer when the response is ready and then immediately notify the waiting Service Callout thread before returning to work on the next Service Callout response or go back to the global self-tuning pool. This will ensure there are no thread starvation issues with the Service Callout pattern under high loads.

Custom Work Managers and Min-Thread Constraint

Create a custom Work Manager in WLS with a low Min Thread Constraint (less than or max 5) via the WLS Console.

Login to the WLS Console and expand the Environment node to select the Work Managers.

Start with creation of a Min Thread Constraint.
Select the Count to be 5 (or less).

Target the Constraint to the relevant servers (or OSB Cluster).
Next create a new Work Manager.


Target the new custom Work Manager to the relevant servers (or OSB Cluster).
Next associate the Work Manager with the previously created Min Thread Constraint.
Leave the rest as empty (Max Thread Constraint/Capacity Constraint).

Note: The Server instance would have to be restarted to pick the changes.

OSB Business Service with Custom Work Manager

Login to the sbconsole.
Create a Session
Go to the related Business Service configuration.
Edit the HTTP Transport Configuration
Select the newly created custom Work Manager for the Dispatch Policy

Save changes.

Commit the session changes

Now with the above changes to the Business Service, the OSB Service callouts will always use the custom Work Manager with Min-Thread Constraint to handle the response from the Business Service and notification of the waiting Proxy thread and not run into any of the thread starvation issues that we observed earlier with Service Callouts.

The same custom Work Manager can be used by multiple Business Services that are all invoked via Service Callout actions as the thread would be used for a very short duration and can handle responses for multiple business services. Associate the dispatch policy of the Business services invoked via Service Callouts to use the custom WM.


Hope this series gave some pointers on the internal implementation of OSB for Route Vs. Service Callouts, correct usage of Service Callouts, identifying issues with callouts using Thread Dump and Heap Dump Analysis and the solutions to resolve them. 

OSB, Service Callouts and OQL - Part 2

This section of the "OSB, Service Callouts and OQL" blog posting will delve into thread dump analysis of OSB server and detecting threading issues relating to Service Callout and using Heap Dump and OQL to identify the related Proxies and Business services involved. The previous section dealt with threading model used by OSB to handle Route and Service Callouts.

Thread dump analysis of OSB Service Callouts

There have been numerous customer situations where the performance and response times starts degrading under heavy load in OSB and users are unable to identify the cause for such slowdown and areas of bottleneck.There can be appearance of STUCK Thread notifications also. Taking multiple thread dumps at short intervals (10 - 15 seconds) from the OSB server is the first step towards identifying the problem area. Next analyze the threads for patterns - are they waiting for database response, remote invocation responses? etc.

One way to identify OSB related threads is look for com.bea.wli package name in the thread stacks. There are numerous OSB related patterns and advisories included in ThreadLogic thread dump analysis I had blogged previously. Using ThreadLogic will make the thread dump analysis part lot easier as it can parse multiple dumps as well as identify thread progress across successive dumps.

Some OSB related advisories packaged in ThreadLogic:

From the above list, we can see ThreadLogic will attempt to identify threads involved in inbound Http Proxy, Java Callouts, Proxy in WAIT state for a response (this can be for Service Callout or Sync Publish action), Service response cache lookup (using in-built Coherence Cluster Cache), Publish action, Session activation, Web Service Callout, response handling etc and mark them with a related health level.

Keep in mind, with Route actions, even if the remote services are slow, these wont show up in thread dumps (unless it uses Exactly-Once QoS) as there is no thread actually waiting for the response and threads are only used during the request invocation and actual response processing as discussed earlier.

But for the Service Callouts, two threads needs to be used (at time of actual response hand-off). For an OSB server under heavy load and exhibiting slowness or STUCK (thread has been executing one request for more than 10 minutes in WebLogic), ThreadLogic will report something similar in the Thread Groups Summary node:

Under load, OSB related threads using service callouts will appear in following state in ThreadLogic analysis. The threads might appear as hung waiting for a response notification from the remote service endpoint.

The above snapshot shows ThreadLogic detecting and marking OSB threads involved in wait for Service Callout response (as well as Webservice callout and STUCK). The overall OSB server instance appears to show multiple threads waiting for Service response. The FATAL health level is due to threads appearing in STUCK State.

In the ThreadLogic's Merge or Diff view, one can see multiple threads executing the Service Callout, some progressing, while others remaining stuck in same code execution between dumps.

In the Merge/Diff view of ThreadLogic, the green column entries with "Progress" indicate thread progressing between dumps while the "No Change" indicates absence of thread progress. If the thread is in a bad state (WATCH or WARNING or FATAL) in a previous dump and not progressing in the next successive dump, its marked in brown background while those in IGNORE or NORMAL and not showing any progress would use yellow background.

Detecting Related Services involved using Heap Dumps

Now we have detected OSB threads which are waiting for service responses. The corrective action would be to ensure the remote service can respond in time under increasing loads along with implementing better thread management in OSB to handle the response.

Before we get into the solution implementation, we still need to identify those specific business services that are contributing to the hang situation, as the solution/remedial actions have to be applied against those specific services.

If there are very few external services that OSB invokes via Service Callout or Publish action, then we can easily identify or detect which services are contributing to the slowdown. But if there are numerous services, all invoked as mix of Service Callouts/Publish actions, then it becomes difficult to identify the related remote business services and apply the corrective actions.

The thread dumps can indicate the call pattern, but cannot provide any information on which specific Proxy or Business services were involved as the OSB framework code is generic and executes same code paths for all proxy services or Service Callouts (similar to a JDBC code stack trace that does not provide data about the SQL being executed). The OSB Console Management Dashboard returns monitored statistics for services that have completed execution, but not for those still executing or hanging. So, we would have to start analyzing web traffic patterns (access logs or web proxy logs) or network interactions (like connections to remote side) to understand incoming load but might still not get an entire picture which services are really hanging.

In such situations, analyzing the heap dump of the Server JVM instance can provide a gold mine of information.  Heap dumps contain a complete snapshot of every object instance loaded in memory and details of threads executing code or acting on objects when the heap dump is generated. Useful data can be retrieved as long as the heap dump can be analyzed by any of the commonly available Java Heap Dump Analyzers (Eclipse MAT, JVisualVM, IBM HA, Sun JHAT, YourKit etc.).

Note: There are two separate versions of Eclipse MAT - a 32 bit and 64 bit version. You cannot just switch the JVM to 64 bit and use Eclipse MAT 32 bit version to analyze big heap dumps (in excess of 4GB heap size). Best to download and use the 64 bit version of MAT.

Capturing Heap Dumps

Most jvms allow capturing heap dump from a running jvm instance. Depending on the vm version and options used, some of the dump formats might not be readable from vendor-agnostic tools like Eclipse MAT or VisualVM. Always try to capture the heap dump in HPROF format, so its not vendor specific. JRockit versions pre-R28 cannot generate heap dumps. JRockit R28+ versions allow heap dumps in hprof format.

For Sun Hotspot:
jmap is the utility (packaged within jdk bin folder) to generate heap dumps given a Java Process ID.

jmap -dump:format=b,file=heap.bin <pid>

format=b option tells to dump the heap in binary format instead of just string/text format.

For JRockit:
Use jrcmd (or JRMC) to generate heap dumps in hprof format (JRockit version should be R28+)
jrcmd <PID> hprofdump filename=<pathNameToFile>

Normally jrockit heap dumps get generated in the process's current working directory.

For IBM:
Doing a kill -3 on a IBM JVM process id generates a textual representation of the JVM process heap dump.
Please refer to IBM JVM documentation for details on generating heap dump using dump agents or programmatically (also requires some additional JVM command line arguments to dump heap in the right format).


Most users will use heap dumps mainly to detect memory leaks or usage. But there is lot more that can be researched from heap dumps using Object Query Language, referred as OQL. OQL provides SQL like syntax to navigate, parse and retrieve data from java heap dump. Navigating object relationship and class hierarchies is very simple in tools like Eclipse MAT. There are numerous OQL Tutorials and a detailed documentation available within Eclipse MAT on OQL syntax and usage.

How can we use OQL in the OSB Service Callout situation? From the thread dumps, the code pattern involved in Service callouts is "com.bea.wli.sb.pipeline.PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener" from the Stuck threads stack trace. Lets use OQL to select all instances of this class.

Sample OQL:
select * from instanceof com.bea.wli.sb.pipeline.PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener

Select the OQL option at the top (4th icon under the heap dump in MAT) and execute the OQL.

Also, as a general recommendation, always use "instanceof <type>" to select all derived types just to be safer (although there is no actual derived type from PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener). Eclipse MAT will execute the OQL query against the Heap Dump and return the results for all pending responses. The Heap Dump snapshot should have been captured from an OSB instance when it was actively executing Service Callout or Publish invocations.

Sample snapshot for the select com.bea.wli.sb.pipeline.PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener OQL in Eclipse MAT.

Now pick any instance from the results and the MAT Inspector tab (shows up under Window option) should provide details of the instance - member variables, references, values etc. Now the remaining steps of navigating the instances are mostly guess work - a mix of trial and errors as we don't really know the class structure or relationship between members or references, that might or might not contain useful data.

One can see there is a _service reference within the PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener and its of type ..BusinessServiceImpl. Lets drill into it. Expanding it shows another member reference "_ref".

Clicking on the "_ref" shows more interesting data about the "_service". It shows the actual Business Service name and path in its "fullname" attribute. Now we know which services are being invoked via Service Callout or Publish action.

Use OQL and the navigation logic to get list the Business services invoked that are still pending for response.

SELECT toString(s._service._ref.fullname) FROM INSTANCEOF com.bea.wli.sb.pipeline.PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener s 

Note: Use toString(variable) to get the actual String content instead of a reference to the String in Eclipse MAT. Use ref.toString() in JVisualVM. Other primitives will be reported directly.

There is also a "this$0" reference for the PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener. Drilling into it yields "_proxy". This is the actual reference to the calling proxy. Drill into "_proxy" shows its own "_ref" member attribute. The "fullname" of the "_ref" provides the name of the Proxy that was invoking the Service Callout.

So, now we have traversed from instance of PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener to "this$0" to "_proxy" to "_ref" to "fullname" to arrive at Proxy name. Similarly, we navigated PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener instance to "_service" to "_ref" to "fullname" to identify the Business Service. Now lets run a single OQL to get both the calling Proxy and the Business Service executed via Service Callout or Publish action that blocks for response.

SELECT toString(s.this$0._proxy._ref.fullname) AS ProxyService, toString(s._service._ref.fullname) AS BusinessService FROM INSTANCEOF com.bea.wli.sb.pipeline.PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener s 

The sample output should appear like:

To analyze the same heap dump on JVisualVM (under hotspot jdk/bin folder), use following OQL:
select s.this$0._proxy._ref.fullname.toString() , s._service._ref.fullname.toString()  from com.bea.wli.sb.pipeline.PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener s 

The OQL syntax (select/from/instanceof are all case sensitive in JVisualVM), columns display and navigation/drill down are much more easier with Eclipse MAT compared to JVisualVM.

Lets run a more detailed OQL to report on type of remote invocation - whether its a Service Callout or Publish action. If there is a response Handler for the proxy, then its a Service Callout; if null, its a Publish action.

SELECT toString(s.this$0._proxy._ref.fullname) AS InvokingProxy, toString(s._service._ref.fullname) AS OutboundService, s._responseHandler AS PublishOrWSCallout FROM com.bea.wli.sb.pipeline.PipelineContextImpl$SynchronousListener s 

We have now analyzed the call patterns for the OSB Server threads blocked for remote response and the remote services involved using OQL on the Heap Dump file. Next would be to focus on the correction action. Before that, we need to briefly discus about Work Managers in WLS.


Hope this section in the "OSB, Service Callouts and OQL" series gave some pointers on identifying issues with Service Callouts using Thread Dump and Heap Dump Analysis. The next section will go more into WebLogic Server Work Manager concept and the corrective actions to solve OSB Service Callout related hangs.