MTV touts benefits of JBoss enterprise open source

MTV Networks migrates to JBoss when legacy support ceases

At the recent annual JBoss World user conference, earlier this month in the US, two themes were heard often when IT managers talked about adopting JBoss middleware applications within their businesses — simplifying and saving money.

Justin Edelson, vice president of platform engineering at New York-based MTV Networks Digital, says 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.

The digital division had used ATG Dynamo to operate about 40 Java-based websites, while about 260 other websites 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 says, while future conversions of the other sites are expected after pilot projects prove that it will work.

"It's been relatively smooth," Edelson, who has written a book on Java for tech publisher O'Reilly Media, says 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 websites that will natively run on JBoss, he says.

Edelson says he also wants 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 says, he hopes to be able to look at the websites that are running on Ruby, PHP and other systems in hopes of consolidating them onto JBoss. "We recognise that we have to get through the Java sites first," he says. "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 says.

Steve Hansen, IT director at Minnesota-based Educational Credit Management, a student loan guarantor company, says his company began rolling out JBoss applications earlier this month to replace an old mainframe application that ran all of the organisation'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 says. "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 says.

"We looked back a few years ago and saw that we had so many different technologies, so many different applications and redundant staff," Hansen says. "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, a real estate management and movie theatre management business in Los Angeles, says 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 says. Now, the front end is JBoss, and it works well with the .Net back end and the movie ticketing application, he says.

"It's much easier for deployment and troubleshooting" compared with WebLogic or IBM's WebSphere because he has access to the source code, Bahmanpour says. 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 says. "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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