JBoss customers tout benefits of enterprise open source

Cash savings and ‘agility’ of technology are higlighted.

At the fifth annual JBoss World user conference last week, two themes are heard often when IT managers talk about adopting JBoss middleware applications within their businesses -- simplifying and saving money.

Justin Edelson, vice president of platform engineering at MTV Networks Digital, said his company began migrating to JBoss Enterprise Application Server last year after a legacy application, ATG Dynamo, was dropped by its longtime vendor, Art Technology Group Inc.

The digital division had used ATG Dynamo to operate about 40 Java-based Web sites, while about 260 other Web sites run on PHP, Ruby and other platforms. The migration project for the Java-based sites is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter, Edelson said, while future conversions of the other sites are expected after pilot projects prove that it will work.

"It's been relatively smooth," Edelson said of the migration so far. The biggest challenges haven't been caused by the JBoss applications, but because the old ATG Dynamo code was pre-J2EE, so it has to be changed to work with JBoss.

Edelson, who returned to MTV last September after a previous position with the company more than a decade ago, came to JBoss World to check out the next generations of JBoss products and tools, even as his company works to complete its migration.

"I want to know what's coming. It will relate to what we can do in the future. Our intent is to look for new applications" so they can create new Web sites that will natively run on JBoss, he said.

Edelson said he also wanted to find out what kinds of training his 100 developers will need so that they maintain the skills required to transform the company's IT infrastructure.

By the second half of this year, Edelson said he hopes to be able to look at the Web sites that are running on Ruby, PHP and other systems in hopes of consolidating them onto JBoss. "We recognize that we have to get through the Java sites first," he said. "The goals are to have functional sites that make revenue. If we can have operational efficiency and reduce costs, that's great, too."

"From what I've seen, it should work," Edelson said.

Steve Hansen, IT director at Educational Credit Management, a student loan guarantor company, said his company began rolling out JBoss applications earlier this month to replace an old mainframe application that ran all of the organization's programs.

JBoss was chosen because it saved money, but more importantly because it's more agile than the BEA WebLogic mainframe application that it replaced, Hansen said in a telephone interview from his company's headquarters. "It just seems a little more straightforward. I can define a particular configuration, and it's easier to give it to developers than with WebLogic," he said.

"We looked back a few years ago and saw that we had so many different technologies, so many different applications and redundant staff," Hansen said. "We wanted to reduce that to be more efficient."

With JBoss applications in production today, the student loan company is now embarking on the next two-year phase of the IT upgrade project -- using the JBoss Seam framework to simplify Web development.

Meanwhile, Brad Bahmanpour, enterprise architect at The Decurion Corp., a real estate management and movie theater management business in Los Angeles, said he brought in JBoss Enterprise Application Server to replace a Microsoft .Net front-end architecture that didn't work well with Decurion's movie-ticketing software.

"They had a problem for years," Bahmanpour said. Now, the front end is JBoss, and it works well with the .Net back end and the movie ticketing application, he said.

"It's much easier for deployment and troubleshooting" compared with WebLogic or IBM's WebSphere because he has access to the source code, Bahmanpour said. He's looking at other JBoss applications now that Decurion's initial hesitancy to use open-source software dissipated.

"We got a lot of pushback," Bahmanpour said. "It took two months to convince them to go to open source. We did some prototypes for them to show them that it works."

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