Eric D. Schabell: Dutch JBoss Event 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!

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