Eric D. Schabell: May 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dutch JBoss Event 2009

Yesterday in Utrecht at the nice seminar location Aristo was the first Dutch JBoss Event 2009. It was to be a day of presentations from 4 different implementers and/or customers using JBoss for their solutions.

I was expecting a lot of high level stories without a lot of technology depth, but it was really amazing. The 4 stories were delivered with enough detail to entertain the higher level architects and managers, but also to interest the more technologically inclined. The question sessions at the end of these stories reflected this, as they ranged from questions about specific component versions up to project/management process questions.

The agenda for the day looked like this:
  • 10:00   Welcome by Mohamed Yassini (RedHat)
  • 10:15   Ciber with NXP - “The new way of custom development”
  • 11:30   Sogeti on NS-HiSpeed project
  • 12:30   Lunch
  • 13:15   Xebia on “Migration to JBoss Made Cost Effective and Easy”
  • 14:30   De Nationale Postcodeloterij on “Managed Services in Practice”
  • 15:30   Closing
Welcome by Mohamed Yassini
Mohamed opened up the day with a nice introduction which included presenting Carlos de Wolf (JBoss EJB3 Lead Developer) and myself to the audience.

Philips development restructured
The first presentation described an extensive project to bring some structure to the Phillips development organization. 

Herwig Wens, an Enterprise Architect from NXP walked us through the starting situation, with 400+ applications, a myriad of tools, no best practices, no cohesion, you get the idea... They brought guidance and designed the Custom Development Reference Architecture (CDRA) as a basis for the future. A leading remark was that Philips would "Reuse, before Buy, before Build." I like this kind of thinking.

As NXP does not implement architectures, they partnered with Ciber. At this point Cyber took over and presented the rest of the project implementation which was done with Prince2, RUP, UML and in a POC:
  • standardized on Oracle and MySql.
  • application server is Tomcat and JBoss
  • OS is Red Hat Linux
  • security by LDAP
  • architectural points of interest were integration between GUI and business logic with SEAM and jBPM were instrumental
This presentation finished with lessons learned. The big one that stuck with me was that when they started this JBoss project it was pre-Red Hat. This means that all components were pulled from the community site and many integration problems / bugs were solved to get this working. This is not a path to take with Red Hat providing integrated solutions taking the pain out of your projects.

Sogeti and Hispeed NS

The project presented here was related to a smaller portion of the project running to keep the Hispeed NS portal up and running. It was about creating a generic OTAP environment with JBoss components. 

Starting in 2008 the various portions of the existing IT landscape within were being re-structured to provide proper support for the development effort. This story applied JBoss tools to implement a manageable migration for projects through Development (O), Testing (T), Acceptance (A), and Production (P) systems.

The architecture included the following componentes:
  • JBoss EAP
  • SEAM
  • Hibernate
  • Maven
  • JBoss AS
  • Postgres 
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
The only thing missing in the entire solution was continuous integration, but even so, less than 1 hour between full project deployments from one phase to the next is a very exciting result!

Xebia on migration to JBoss
A talk on how to manage your migration project from IBM WS / BEA to JBoss. This was a very keen overview that not only took into accout the obvious Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) aspects, but the more interesting points that need to be kept in mind:
  • project planning and tracking (Agile Migration Method)
  • quality and performance, same or better afterwards?
  • hidden surprises, with each project being unique
  • skill migration evaluation
  • strategies, big bang vs. incremental migration
  • migration or (partial) rewrite of application(s)
  • TCO calculator
A very sound and decent partner to involve if you are thinking about migration projects anytime soon.

Profict on mission critical systems with JBoss
Final talk of the day was very captivating, with an inside look at how the Dutch national lottery is managed on the IT front. Some amazing facts about the amount of money moving through this managed infrastructure is amazing:
  • National lottery : over 2.75 billion in 19 years has been processed to over 57 different charities
  • Bank giro lottery : over 352 million to 45 good causes processed
  • Sponsor bingo lottery : over 390 million processed for clubs and sports
They have to collect over 60 million per month through the banking and billing systems of the Netherlands, reaching 50% of all Dutch citizens who participate. An example was given that if the systems would be down for a day, that they had exstimated the damage to relate to 1% downgrade in collection results (remember, they collect over 60 million, so that is some serious damage)! 

In the last 4 years they have seen their collections via the internet channels grow to 70% of the total selling channels. This is why they have chosen to migrate their entire IT infrastructure to JBoss EAP and jBPM, phasing out all propriatary solutions. There has not been a single day of down time (they reported) since JBoss has been put into production.

Amazing to me that a company that has such a cash flow ends up on the best product, which is used to being measured on TCO numbers. Here price could be no object if some component was needed to ensure these channels continue to process at maximum efficiency.

In closing, this event was well received and many of the attendees stated (during the drink and dinner afterwards) that they looked forward to participating in the next one!

Also a special thanks to Petra Ras from Copaco for the organizational aspects, she pulled off a great seminar!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

jBPM 4 beta 2 on JBoss 5.0.0.GA screenshots

Another beta release cycle for jBPM v4 and I wanted to see what has been updated in the gwt-console so off we go again to take another look since the beta 1 release.

This time I chose the default JBoss 5.0.0.GA instead of the latest GA just to avoid having to change the provided ant script defaults:

jboss.version : Default value is 5.0.0.GA. Alternative value is 5.0.1.GA

The environment is as follows by default (starting from where ever you decide to unpack the jbpm v4 beta 2 zip file:

[echo] database.................... hsqldb
[echo] jbpm.home................... ../../jbpm-4.0.0.Beta2
[echo] jboss.version............... 5.0.0.GA
[echo] jboss.filename..............
[echo] jboss.distro.path........... ../../jbpm-4.0.0.Beta2/downloads/
[echo] jboss.home.................. ../../jbpm-4.0.0.Beta2/jboss-5.0.0.GA
[echo] jboss.server.configuration.. default
[echo] jboss.server.config.dir..... ../../jbpm-4.0.0.Beta2/jboss-5.0.0.GA/server/default

Getting started I wanted to examine the ant possibilities.

$ ant -p

Main targets:

delete.jboss.installation  deletes jboss installation
demo.setup                 installs jboss, installs jbpm into jboss, starts
                           jboss, creates the jBPM DB schema, deploys examples,
                           loads example identities, installs and starts eclipse
demo.teardown              drops the jbpm db schema and stops jboss
get.jboss                  downloads jboss into ${jboss.distro.dir}
install.jboss              unzips jboss, downloads jboss to ${jboss.distro.dir} if its not available
install.jbpm.into.jboss    installs jbpm into jboss
reinstall.jboss            deletes the previous jboss installation and re-installs jboss
start.jboss                starts jboss and waits till jboss is booted, then lets jboss
                           run in the bg
stop.jboss                 signals jboss to stop, but doesn't wait till its finished

# As I don't want to download and/or install another eclipse, I will avoid the demo.setup.
# The nice part is that this is all installed relative to your jbpm path by default, giving
# you a self contained playground. See the jboss/build.xml for exact details.
$ ant get.jboss

$ ant install.jboss

$ ant install.jbpm.into.jboss

At this point I jumped over to my eclipse to setup the jBoss server and started it there. Now it is time to add the provided GPDL designer, jBPM user library, adding jPDL schema to XML catalog, imported examples into eclipse, and finally added ant deployment capabilities. Just follow the provided documentation that starts in the jbpm 4 beta 2 root directory, a file called readme.html.

Some of the examples were missing libraries (some JBoss esb stuff), but you can take a look at the screenshots to get an idea of what this all looks like.

Please note that process deployment is done with an Ant build script, as provided in the examples. You will not find this in the current gwt-console as you used to see in the jBPM v3.x consoles. Just follow the user documentation as provided!  


Saturday, May 9, 2009

jBPM community day report

Yesterday I was at the jBPM Community Day in Antwerp, Belgium and I wanted to give you a bit of an impression of what went down there.

It all started with a kickoff presentation by Tom Baeyens, Founder and Lead of JBoss jBPM with an overview of what jBPM is. This was a rather global look at the simple theory behind the process engine and a bit of an overview of what jBPM v4 is. This led to some interesting discussions as the public interacted and fired off questions. The audience was a mix of 50/50 of developers and non-BPM users which made for a nice mix of strategic and technical discussions.

The second presentation was started by me, just to explain what I had been doing at the SNS Bank, what the background was on the story, and that as I am now a Red Hat employee it would be better if Maurice de Chateau (the current SNS Bank jBPM Team Lead) gave the details. Maurice gave a complete overview of the last 2 years of jBPM implementation experience that we had built up, with some do's, some gotcha's, and some architectural details. This finished up with quite a few questions and discussions that dripped over into the follow up break for coffee. Nice to chat with the various community members from the jBPM world!

The final presentation was given by Joram Barrez
that was a demo of a pretty neat Bluetooth activated jBPM v4 (based on the beta 1 release) application. He was a very funny and knowledgeable speaker that captivated the audience.

After this we headed off for either home (those that were done with the day) or to a dinner organized by the jBPM team. It was full of development talks, good food, and of course the famous Belgian beer.

I was able to chat with Tom a bit and I am looking forward to the next community event!

Friday, May 8, 2009 Open Source - comments published on "Participant of user?"

Computable number 19 from 08 May 2009 has published an opinion article written by a friend of mine entitled: Open source: participant of user?.

My comment was published along with the article, see page 9.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Welcome to Red Hat EMEA

Just back from the introduction trip at Red Hat EMEA headquarters in Munich, Germany. Was two days of introduction to the company, meeting various people in the chain of command, and a third day with my new boss.

One of the best parts was a tour of the Munich center of town, by a very funny tour guide. He showed us all the key points of interest, told us what beer was the best, and explained the rivalry between Munich and Austria.

The pictures (from top left, to bottom right) show the original royal palace, some monuments taken from Italy, and the point where the original coup attempt by Hitler failed. This tour was followed by a dinner and real Bavarian food with beer in mugs with lids on them. It was a late night... ;-)

I couldn't believe my eyes when they gave each of us an honest to goodness 'Red Hat', which is pretty much the diploma for the introduction. Not sure I will ever wear that to a customer visit but it sure does look good on Tux, doesn't it?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Convert disk IMG to standard ISO on a Macbook

This is not rocket science but born from a need to get something done in daily usage of a macbook and captured here for posterity.

With any luck this will help not only myself, but someone out there struggling with the same problems I encountered.

This will work for an IMG file or DMG.

I stumbled on the need for this after creating a DVD on my Macbook and wanting the generated IMG file to be in a standard ISO format.

Just use the command line:

// for IMG files.
$ hdiutil convert input.img -format UDTO -o output.iso

// for DMG files.
$ hdiutil convert input.dmg -format UDTO -o output.iso