Deployment Guide

This article explains the various approaches that can be taken to deploy an Apache Synapse server instance. It provides information on each deployment option along with their software requirements and steps that need to be carried out.

Platform requirements

Synapse requires Java 1.5 or higher and has been tested on Java runtime environments from Sun, IBM and Apple. Note that the recommended Java version is 1.6. Synapse is used on various operation systems, including Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, Windows and AIX, as well as mainframe environments. The recommended operation system for production use is Linux since it offers a wider range of options to tune the TCP/IP stack. This is important to optimize the performance of the NIO HTTP transport.

When selecting the environment for deployment, the following known issues should be taken into account:

  • The synapse.bat and scripts included in the binary distribution use the -server option which is not supported by IBM's JRE. This problem can be easily solved by manually editing these scripts to remove the unsupported -server option. See SYNAPSE-454 .
  • In the past several issues related to subtle concurrency problems have been reported with the non-blocking HTTP transport (which is the recommended HTTP implementation for Synapse) when used on more "exotic" platforms. While this has been improved it is recommended to thoroughly test the HTTP transport before deploying Synapse in a production environment based on these platforms. Please don't hesitate to report any issues using JIRA or by posting a message on the mailing list.

Overview of available deployment options

Synapse can be deployed in two different ways:

  • Stand-alone, i.e. as an independently managed Java process.
  • As a J2EE application (WAR) deployed into a simple servlet container (e.g. Tomcat) or a full-featured J2EE application server.

Since Synapse doesn't rely on any container API, the features offered are the same in both deployment scenarios, with very few exceptions:

  • There is a minor issue that prevents classpath resources from being used in a WAR deployment. See SYNAPSE-207 .
  • When deployed as a WAR file, Synapse can be configured with the standard Axis2 servlet based HTTP transport: while the recommended HTTP implementation for Synapse is the NIO HTTP transport, there might be situations where it is preferable or mandatory to use the HTTP protocol implementation of the application server.

In some scenarios Synapse is used to proxy services that are deployed themselves on an application server. In these cases it would be interesting to deploy Synapse on the same application server and use an in-VM transport instead of HTTP to communicate with these services. Note that for the moment no production-grade implementation of this type of transport exists yet for Axis2, but this might change in the future.

Since the features offered are almost the same, the differences between the two deployment options are mainly related to packaging and operational considerations:

  • Many IT departments prefer deploying J2EE applications than managing stand-alone Java processes, because this allows them to leverage the management and monitoring facilities offered by the application server.
  • If the use case relies on JNDI resources such as JMS connection factories, JDBC data source and transactions it might be easier to set up and configure these resources when Synapse is deployed directly on the application server that hosts these resources.

Stand-alone deployment

Using the standard binary distribution

The easiest way to get started with a stand-alone deployment is using the standard binary distribution ZIP or tarball (see download.html). It already contains everything that is needed to run Synapse stand-alone and you only need to customize it according to your requirements:

  • Place your mediation configuration in repository/conf/synapse-config directory.
  • Place any additional files such as WSDL files, endpoint definitions, etc. referenced by your configuration in the repository directory.
  • Customize repository/conf/axis2.xml to enable and disable transports according to your needs.
  • Add any additional libraries required by your mediation to the libdirectory. Alternatively modify repository/conf/wrapper.conf to add directories and JAR files to the classpath.
  • Add any required modules to repository/modules.
  • If necessary, modify lib/ to configure logging.

Since the standard binary distribution also contains samples and documentation, you might want to remove the following folders:

  • docs
  • repository/conf/sample
  • samples

The bin directory contains Unix and Windows scripts to run Synapse:

  • and synapse.bat allow to run Synapse in non daemon mode.
  • is a Sys V init script that can be used on Unix systems to start and stop Synapse in daemon mode.
  • install-synapse-service.bat and uninstall-synapse-service.bat can be used on Windows to install Synapse as an NT service.

Using Maven to build a custom distribution

Building a custom Synapse package based on the standard binary distribution is a manual process and this has some drawbacks:

  • The JAR files required to run Synapse must be selected manually and it is not easy to identify unused JARs that could be safely removed.
  • The process is not suitable if there is a requirement for strict configuration management. In particular:
    • Because of the large number of JAR files, managing the artifacts using a source control repository is not practical.
    • The process is not repeatable and there is no way to go back to a previous version of the artifacts.
  • When upgrading to a newer version of Synapse (or when working with snapshot versions), it is necessary either to manually replace the JARs in the current package or to start again from a new version of the standard binary distribution.
  • If Synapse needs to be deployed with slightly different configurations in multiple environments (e.g. test and production), the corresponding packages need to be prepared manually.

Note that these problems not only arise in the development and maintenance phases of a project, but also when doing proof of concepts that you want to keep in a safe place for later reuse. One approach to overcome these difficulties is to use Maven to assemble a custom package. When used correctly, this approach solves all of the issues identified above. In particular Maven's dependency management together with the excellent assembly plugin can be used to automatically select the relevant JARs to include and pull them from Maven repositories. The remaining artifacts required to assemble the package can then be easily stored in a source control repository.

Synapse provides a Maven archetype that allows to set up this kind of project in only a few simple steps. To begin with, change to the directory where you want to create the project and issue the following command:

mvn archetype:generate -DarchetypeCatalog=

In case of problems, you can try to use the latest version of the archetype catalog:

mvn archetype:generate -DarchetypeCatalog=

Finally, if you have build Synapse from sources, you don't need to specify a catalog at all: the archetype is added automatically to the local catalog during the build.

In any case, when prompted by Maven, select synapse-package-archetype for the Synapse version you want to use. In the next step enter the values for groupId, artifactId and version for your project. You will also be prompted for a package name. Since the archetype doesn't contain any source code, this value is irrelevant and you can continue with the default value.

At this stage a Maven project has been created in a sub-directory with the same name as the artifactId specified previously. You should now customize this projects according to your needs:

  • Add your mediation configuration to repository/conf/synapse-config directory.
  • Customize the dependencies in pom.xml. In particular if additional transports such as JMS are needed, add the required dependencies here. Additional Axis2 modules should also be added here.
  • Enable and configure additional transports in repository/conf/axis2.xml.
  • Place any other files referenced by mediation configuration into the repository directory.

The project is built as usual with the following command:

mvn package

This will create a ZIP file (in the target directory) containing everything that is needed to run your custom Synapse configuration. You only need to extract it and use the appropriate script in the bin directory to start Synapse.

WAR deployment

Synapse provides a standard WAR file that can be used to deploy mediation on a servlet container or on a J2EE application server. Note that this WAR file is not part of the downloadable distributions. It can be retrieved from the following location:

Customization of the Web application is similar to the stand-alone option, but the default directory structure is different:

  • synapse.xml and axis2.xml are placed into the WEB-INF/conf directory. All other files referenced by your mediation should go to the WEB-INF/repository directory.
  • Additional libraries must be placed into the standard WEB-INF/lib directory.
  • Axis2 modules are located in repository/modules.
  • is located in WEB-INF/classes.