For last few days i am spending time on learning about Rational Application Framework for websphere(RAFW) which is optional feature for Rational Build forge. We can use it to automate either the installation and configuration of the enterprise level WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Portal Server, WebSphere Process server or we can use it to deploy applications, other artifacts on the WebSphere Environment.
Most of the customers will have customized version of WebSphere Installation. By that i mean they will have multi cell WebSphere ND environment, then they will have to integrate it with some time of TAI, such as Tivoli access manager, or netegrity siteminder,.. in case of WebSphere Portal you will want to move data to some other Database, such as Oracle, DB2,.., apply fixes and fix packs, customize environment by adding custom attributes in WMM. In the end your installation guide for the client will be at least couple of hundred pages. Other problem will be when you try to create new environment based on that big document manually, it will take long time and we will make some mistakes. The RAFW helps in these issues by automating the installation process.
Second issue is how do you allow your development team to deploy there applications, create data sources, queues, shared libraries. let them restart environment. The RAFW allows us to automate deployment. You can combine it with Build forge to do end to end deployment, which might start from checking out code from CVS, building and deploying code on WAS, Testing it and sending emails to every one if the test fails.
You can also use RAFW in the performance tuning phase. Most of the customer have dedicated performance environment, during Performance testing we tune that environment to find out what is the optimal size of connection pool, connection time out,... Once the performance environment is tuned we need to apply same changes to other environment, In order to do that you will have to keep noting the changes you made in the performance environment and apply those changes to other environment, thats not very easy. RAFW simplifies that because it can import all the settings from your performance environment and compare it with your production or other environments, it can also apply the difference to all environments.
I am planning to post my RAFW notes on this blog