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The New Standard for Web Development: Free Software - page 2

Sticker Shock Hits Home

  • August 5, 2002
  • By Dan Orzech

Open source application servers are also beginning to appeal to independent software vendors who are developing applications on top of application servers. "If you build your system on top of the major vendors, like IBM or BEA, you're paying a small fortune just in licensing costs," says Hank Roark, manager of architecture and engineering standards at Agris Corporation, in Roswell, Georgia.

Agris, a unit of John Deere & Co., sells a back-office system targeted at the agriculture industry. When the company decided to use an application server to add a Web component to its offering, it spent two weeks conducting a side-by-side evaluation of BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere, and Jboss. "In terms of stability," says Roark, "we found that Jboss was as stable as BEA, and more stable than WebSphere. From a performance standpoint, all three were pretty much equal. And when you looked at ease of deployment, Jboss was by far the easiest to deploy. To deploy a new application you just put a file in a directory, and it's deployed."

The evaluation results, combined with Jboss' price--free--made for "a very easy choice," Roark says.

Upper management, however, was more sceptical. When Roark's team presented the idea, "the first response was: 'prove it,'" Roark says. "So we built a prototype, and proved it."

Agris began development work on the application in March of this year, using not only Jboss, but STRUTS, the open source Apache Web server and XML. The company plans to begin selling the system in the fall. "It's a very short time frame," says Roark. "The ability to use open source and not have to buy a lot of infrastructure has made this project possible."

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