XA is a two-phase commit protocol that is natively supported by many databases and transaction monitors. It ensures data integrity by coordinating single transactions accessing multiple relational databases. XA guarantees that transactional updates are committed in all of the participating databases, or are fully rolled back out of all of the databases, reverting to the state prior to the start of the transaction.
The X/Open XA specification defines the interactions between the Transaction Manager (TM) and the Resource Manager. The Transaction Manager, also known as the XA Coordinator, manages the XA or global transactions. The Resource Manager manages a particular resource such as a database or a JMS system. In addition, an XA Resource exposes a set of methods or functions for managing the resource.
In order to be involved in an XA transaction, the XA Resource must make itself known to the Transaction Manager. This process is called enlistment. Once an XA Resource is enlisted, the Transaction Manager ensures that the XA Resource takes part in a transaction and makes the appropriate method calls on the XA Resource during the lifetime of the transaction. For an XA transaction to complete, all the Resource Managers participate in a two-phase commit (2pc). A commit in an XA transaction is called a two-phase commit because there are two passes made in the committing process. In the first pass, the Transaction Manager asks each of the Resource Managers (through the enlisted XA Resource) whether they will encounter any problems committing the transaction. If any Resource Manager objects to committing the transaction, then all work done by any party on any resource involved in the XA transaction must all be rolled back. The Transaction Manager calls the rollback() method on each of the enlisted XA Resources. However, if no resource Managers object to committing, then the second pass involves the Transaction Manager actually calling commit() on each of the enlisted XA Resources. This process guarantees the ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability) properties of a transaction that can span multiple resources.
Both Sun Microsystems JMS and BEA WebLogic Server implement the X/Open XA interface specifications. Because both systems support XA, the EJBs running inside the WebLogic container can subscribe or publish messages to Sun Microsystems JMS in XA mode. When running in XA mode, the EJBs subscribing or publishing to Sun Microsystems JMS can also participate in a global transaction involving other EJBs. For the example, EJBs running in XA mode, Container Managed Transactions (CMTs) are used. In other words, we define the transactional attributes of the EJBs through their deployment descriptors and allow the container to transparently handle the XA transactions on behalf of the EJBs. The WebLogic Transaction Manager coordinates the XA transactions. The Sun Microsystems JMS XA Resource is enlisted to a transaction so that the WebLogic Transaction Manager is aware of the Sun Microsystems JMS XA Resource involved in the XA transaction. The WebLogic container interacts closely with the Transaction Manager in CMT such that transactions are almost transparent to an EJB developer.