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Configurations, instances, nodes, virtual hosts, clusters ... oh my!

Update:11-30Source: network consolidation
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Perhaps I am being dense, but I am having some trouble wrapping my head around the different "objects" of a SJS web server 7 installation. It is not clear to me how they relate/map to each other and to real processes on the server (logical architecture, mapped to physical architecture).
I had the same difficulty with WebSphere App Server 6 terminology until, with one fell swipe of the Sword of Fundamental Truthiness, a very brilliant instructor cleared it up for me when he said (using WAS6 parlance) "a 'profile' is the on-disk configuration, files etc, of a node. 1 profile = 1 node. The node is the run-time object describe by the profile." Bingo. Everything (nodes, servers, cells, profiles) made sense after that.
I've been through the docs, but it is still not clear to me. Any lucid descriptions would be appreciated. There's configurations, nodes, instances, virtual hosts, listeners, clusters.
Is a cluster a collection of nodes? Or instances? Virtual server vs. instance? A "configuration" is the on-disk configuration/files etc describing a ???" Maybe there is a nice diagram out there someplace that maps all these bits together?
Thanks,
Mark

The Best Answer

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Thanks all. Like I said, I've read the docs. They are not terribly clear, at least not to me, but maybe I am just being dense. Some detailed diagrams would be useful.
[In the text below, I use leading CAPS to differentiate between generic use of a term and Web Server's use of a term ... instance vs. Instance for example.]
To say "an Instance is a Configuration deployed to a Node" doesn't make any sense to me, since an "Instance" is a configuration item within the Configuration. Maybe it is technically correct
I think I have the following correct:
* A Configuration defines/describes an HTTP service that you wish to provide. It ties together all the elements required to define that service: ports to listen on, SSL or no SSL, document roots, access control and so on.
* You deploy Configurations to Nodes. You define which Nodes to deploy the Configuration to using the Instances tab within the Configuration. The Instance is the run-time representation within a Node of the Configuration (as the Node is the run-time representation within a Cell of the on-disk Profile in WebSphere). You may only have one Instance of a Configuration per available Node. If you have multiple Configurations, you can deploy one Instance of each Configuration to a single Node. An important point here is that Instances really have nothing to do with Virtual Hosts or HTTP Listeners. They are related to Configurations. Configurations have a one-to-(potentially)-many relationship with Instances. Instances within a single Configuration have a one-to-one relationship with Nodes.
* A Listener listens for incoming HTTP requests on a single port. You may have multiple Listeners per Configuration. A Listener forwards incoming HTTP requests to the "appropriate" Virtual Host.
* You can map a single Listener (therefore a single port) onto multiple Virtual Hosts, (Why would you do this?) and of course, multiple Listeners onto a single Virtual Host. Listeners and Virtual Hosts have a many-to-many relationship.
* A virtual host is really the definition of the "real HTTP service", by which I mean it defines the doc root, access controls etc.
I think I have it straight. I apologize if this is amateur. I am hoping to replace all my Apache servers with SJSWS and need to have all my ducks lined up to make the argument for doing so.
Thanks again,
Mark
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