The open source JBoss application server, which for several years has been gaining on its commercial cousins in terms of performance and scalability, may have jumped the final hurdle to wider commercial adoption.
While the application server software was always the ‘right price’ compared to the expensive licensing costs associated with applications servers built by companies such as IBM, BEA, Sun, Borland and Oracle, it was often disregarded due to lack of local support services for the software in Australia.
Shine Technologies, a small boutique IT Consultancy, has begun offering a range of support services around the JBoss technology in order to give any organisation considering deploying it some peace of mind alongside an attractive licensing option (free).
A principal at Shine Technologies, Mark Johnson, said the group’s fling with the open source technology began with a few of the company’s ‘tech-heads’ who advocated their preference for open source software. Originally agreeing to take on the software as a development platform internally - in order to maintain lower costs - the consultants soon found that JBoss possessed a far higher level of reliability and performance than first anticipated.
Johnson said the open source software rivaled IBM’s WebSphere and BEA’s WebLogic application servers for performance, but its adoption had been hampered by a lack of support. “Major corporations have been nervous about deploying it in production systems due to lack of accountability afforded to open source software,” he said. “Our consulting and support service has blown that last barrier away, and we expect adoption rates to soar.”
He cited the example of one of Shine Technologies’ corporate customers who purchased a license for a commercial application server while testing its new applications on JBoss. The lack of support and licensing complications soon compelled the customer to go into production on JBoss and scrap the commercial implementation altogether.
Past studies conducted by organisations such as the CSIRO have found JBoss matched commercial application servers on most criteria with the exception of clustering support for high end scalability. However, the release of JBoss 3.0 in 2001 is said to have improved on this area significantly. “In the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t matter that much anyway,” Johnson said. “People sometimes make the mistake of evaluating an application server on a Rolls Royce basis when they only need the Commodore.”
The company is so sold on the open source software that it sent one of its engineers Matthew James to the US to be trained by the creator of JBoss, Marc Fluery. The consultants are now gaining accreditation to offer training on the JBoss product, as well as a slew of development, installation, configuration, performance tuning services.
Shine Technologies also plans to offer support services - on-site in the greater Melbourne area and nationally over the phone and Internet. Johnson is also keen to hear from like-minded companies in other states to form loose alliances on support services.