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J2EE Journal: Article

Partners Compare WebLogic and WebSphere: An Exclusive Interview with George Kosmides of Noospherics

Partners Compare WebLogic and WebSphere: An Exclusive Interview with George Kosmides of Noospherics

Related Links

  • How Low Does BEA Have to Go?
  • How Long Can BEA Survive, Industry Asks
  • Why WebSphere?
  • A Successful Ingredient Offers Choice
  • A Leader with New Customers

    Jack Martin also spoke to George Kosmides, president of Noospherics, about their IBM relationship.

    WJ: When was Noospherics founded?
    GK:
    Noospherics was started in 1997.

    WJ: Why did you start, other than the obvious, Noospherics?
    GK:
    We had a lot of experience with object technology from the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, primarily in Smalltalk, and had a lot of object design capability. We applied this in the Java and the Web worlds and formed Noospherics specifically to work on an approach-level, object-based project. The technology primarily translates to J2EE.

    WJ: How many people work at Noospherics?
    GK:
    About 25.

    WJ: What is your current specialty?
    GK:
    Right now we work primarily on project development services for small to medium-sized businesses doing all of the enterprise integration that's required to apply WebSphere, MQSeries, and WebSphere Portal to enterprise architecture application design and development, and also training and mentoring.

    WJ: Do you focus on any specific industry?
    GK:
    No. We cover a broad range of industries including banking, insurance, retail, financial services, federal government, state government, universities.

    WJ: So your specialty is domains specific to the technology and transferable to wherever the customer needs to go?
    GK:
    Exactly.

    WJ: Do you do any troubleshooting, for example if a customer has a real problem on their hands. Do you come into the job at that point?
    GK:
    We can work with the entire project so we come in at different points. Sometimes we start at the beginning with a project through the architecture, the training and mentoring, the analysis, and the design used; or we take the project all the way through. Other times we come in at the middle when they need some help or they need to supplement their work. Other times we'll come in like a field team, just dropping in during tuning or troubleshooting or solving a number of problems; we really cover the whole spectrum.

    WJ: Are you seeing a lot of activity in the business integration space?
    GK:
    Right now it seems pretty clear that there are a number of different technology solutions that have been working for a while. Existing systems and several generations of what some call "legacy systems" need to be integrated and updated. People need a common middleware solution whether it's an ERP system or a CRM or a supply chain system. What we're seeing a lot is that people have solutions, but they need them updated and integrated, and that's where we come in. Typically at the center of these solutions will be WebSphere, WebSphere Portal, and MQ.

    WJ: From what I've heard you lead with WebSphere when you meet a new customer. Why is that?
    GK:
    The WebSphere family is comprehensive enough now that it really has all of the pieces that you need for an enterprise solution. Sometimes we'll lead with WebSphere Application Server, and sometimes we'll lead with WebSphere Portal Server as an employee portal, for instance. We often use WebSphere Business Integrator to tie into existing business systems.

    WJ: Do you work with any other application servers? If a customer asks, will you?
    GK:
    Yes. We strongly believe that the underlying principle, the underlying foundation for a solution, is what matters and that's the object model, the business model, the business process. The most important thing in any project is to get that resolved. To get that business process captured in your model using model-driven architecture is the "crown jewel." That's the core thing. Then how do you apply that to a technology solution? How do you actualize the model into productive solutions? One way to map this model and architecture is to use a J2EE enterprise solution. That being said, once we have that established we could use BEA's WebLogic. We could also use IBM WebSphere. A huge portion of the time we find that we go to WebSphere.

    WJ: Why is that?
    GK:
    First I'm going to say that BEA has a great solution. WebLogic is what I first used for J2EE application servers and I like their approach. It performs well and we've gone through the various generations from WebLogic 4 up to the current WebLogic 8.1. We've worked with WebLogic and it's a good product. WebSphere matches every feature and every capability that WebLogic has, but WebSphere and the WebSphere family in most situations that we run into offer more. We've developed a complete integration capability with MQ. We've got a complete portal solution, not just one piece of a portal solution, but we've got the collaborations that we did through Domino. On the back end we've got the ability to tie into the mainframe and the rest of the enterprise. Again, the WebSphere family has the fullest set of solutions. WebSphere at the core of the enterprise is a remarkable solution.

    WJ: Do ant of your customers ask you for JBoss?
    GK:
    They hadn't until the last six months and now we have customers asking us very tough questions. "I have 500 stores, or I have an entire division and why should I pay for 10 licenses when I could use JBoss instead?" That's a very important question and now with JBoss we are having a harder time answering that. I think that's something that the industry needs to address. This question addresses the real business value of the vendors' offerings.

    WJ: Do you think the application server market will go to open source?
    GK:
    We've had a number of debates within the company and there are two sides to it. You know there are people who say, absolutely, JBoss has been big and for that matter three-quarters of typical customer needs are going to be addressed with some sort of open source app server solution. The other side of the discussion is that open source core servers are not built on a sustainable business model. Where is the R&D going to come from? Who is going to make the crucial investments? IBM has pushed a lot of the J2EE technology so far because there was money to be made by it. They are pushing new frontiers with the portals because there is money to be found there. I don't know what the business model is on that end, so I think that the jury is still out. We're watching it closely and it's remarkable how many of our customers in the last six months have asked us about it as a possible solution.

    WJ: Of all those who asked about it, how many have actually deployed?
    GK:
    Zero.

    WJ: Why do you think that is?
    GK:
    They're waiting, and I'm talking about WebLogic and WebSphere customers.

    WJ: Out of everyone you speak to about JBoss, you're saying that after they get done talking about it, zero move forward?
    GK:
    Exactly.

    WJ: What do you think they're actually waiting for?
    GK:
    They're waiting for investment and support. They've delved into open source and a lot of them have limited success. A lot of them are running with Struts. Insurance companies that told us three years ago they did not want our Struts training or Struts mentoring with WSAD are using Struts, and you know, if the JBoss solution is robust enough, there's going to be a very interesting, very compelling argument for considering it. The reason that they are not yet is because they are waiting. They are curious to see the robustness, the clustering. You know you get a lot of great things from WebSphere and the clustering and performance and support; will the JBoss solution be able to provide all of that? The jury is, as far as the customers are concerned, still out, but there is a lot of interest there.

    WJ: I hear you've got a very interesting background that not only working in Information Technology, you've gotten involved with some very exotic architecture. Can you tell me just a little bit about that?
    GK:
    Twenty-five years ago, as an electrical engineer, I was heavily involved in solar energy research and I've been involved with the project in Arizona started by an architect named Paolo Soleri. Soleri started building a prototype of a city, a three-dimensional city that doesn't sprawl across the land and doesn''t use cars. He named that prototype city Arcosanti and I was involved with it then as an engineer and I remained involved doing pro bono work for the project.

    WJ: Did they ever build Arcosanti?
    GK:
    It's about 5% complete. It's located south of Sedona and north of Phoenix. There are 60,000 visitors each year who observe the construction.

    WJ: So no one is living there yet?
    GK:
    People do live there. There are 50-80 staff people living there and building it. And I'm actually headed there next week. I take my family every year and we participate and work on several projects there.

    George Kosmides is an enterprise architect and cofounder of Noospherics Technologies who has been working with object technology for the past 15 years. He has extensive experience with object-based architectures in the banking, insurance, mortgage, medical information systems, health care, process control, retail, and government sectors.

    Related Links

  • How Low Does BEA Have to Go?
  • How Long Can BEA Survive, Industry Asks
  • Why WebSphere?
  • A Successful Ingredient Offers Choice
  • A Leader with New Customers
  • More Stories By Jacques Martin

    Jack Martin, editor-in-chief of WebSphere Journal, is cofounder and CEO of Simplex Knowledge Company (publisher of Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Journal http://www.s-ox.com), an Internet software boutique specializing in WebSphere development. Simplex developed the first remote video transmission system designed specifically for childcare centers, which received worldwide media attention, and the world's first diagnostic quality ultrasound broadcast system. Jack is co-author of Understanding WebSphere, from Prentice Hall.

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