Accident specialist takes risk with J2EE

ACC's architecture and standards manager, Geoffry Cornwell, admits the organisation took risks with its adoption nearly two years ago of an e-business infrastructure and applications based on the Sun-Netscape iPlanet platform and Java 2EE.

ACC’s architecture and standards manager, Geoffry Cornwell, admits the organisation took risks with its adoption nearly two years ago of an e-business infrastructure and applications based on the Sun-Netscape iPlanet platform and Java 2EE.

“At that time, the dot-com phenomenon was at its peak,” Cornwell says, “and the supply of skilled Java personnel was limited.” Previous examples of successful use of the architecture and components were also rare.

The ACC has a complex system that has to deal with claimants, providers of services such as rehabilitation and the business of employer levies which brings the organisation its revenue.

This had been further complicated by National government plans to open accident compensation to private competition, plans which were reversed by the Labour government. That change is the single biggest reason for the complexity of the system today, Cornwell says.

The Sun ONE architecture, including the iPlanet range of products it now has complete control over, was chosen as a result of a competitive tender.

The primary rival was Microsoft’s Transaction Server (MTS), now evolved into part of the .Net initiative. “Both could do the job,” says Cornwell. iPlanet was selected because it was marginally the better offering “within the parameters of the time”.

“We need to look at the coexistence of Java with Microsoft’s offerings,” he says. “We don’t want to cut them [Microsoft] out.”

The infrastructure and electronic claims system is now running, as is a medical fees payment system. In the latter application, ACC had to devise some fairly “heavy” applets so J2EE could cope with the high transaction volume.

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