Covad Communications Carves Out Costs and Improves Time-To-Market with JBoss Enterprise Middleware

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March 24, 2009

Customer: Covad Communications Group Inc.

Industry: Telecomm
Geography: North America
Country: United States


Business Challenge:

Transition from inflexible and costly proprietary middleware software and hardware to JBoss Enterprise Middleware to cut costs while speeding new broadband/VoIP products to market

Software:

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, JBoss Operations Network

Hardware:

x86 system

Benefits:

Reduce costs by more than $500,000 annually in hardware and software support; enabled cost-effective modernization of service-oriented architecture (SOA); improved performance of existing systems; reduced time-to-market of new products. “In the current challenging economic situation, it is all the more important for Covad to retain its edge in automated Operations Support Systems while reducing the software support costs. We needed to modernize our SOA and roll out new products, all the while doing a new software rollout every six weeks and maintaining 99.9% uptime. That’s why we love JBOSS – it allows us to do more with less.” - Unmesh Kulkarni, Director of Software Architecture and Delivery, Covad Communications Group, Inc.

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Background:

Covad Communications is a leading provider of integrated voice and data communications. As a broadband specialist and pioneer, Covad was the first vendor to commercially deploy DSL in the United States. It owns the largest broadband network in the country, and is the only provider of data, voice, and wireless telecommunications solutions for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with a nationwide DSL footprint. A major supplier of broadband access for companies like Earthlink, AOL, and ATandamp;T, Covad offers its services to more than 57 million homes and businesses to 235 major markets in 44 states.

Business Challenge:

Covad has an advanced and fully automated Operations Support System spanning everything from Sales to back-end provisioning, Network Management and Billing. Covad had developed a broad range of front-end applications in-house using this proprietary software that integrated with the BSS/OSS back-end applications and were accessible to sales and support representatives via the Internet. These applications were also part of a modular service-oriented architecture (SOA) Covad had built in 2003 to enable rapid deployment of new software as needed.

But Covad increasingly found the licensing terms of the proprietary software inflexible, inhibiting its ability to add new functionality to its existing systems, develop new ones, and scale to meet market demands. “If you wanted to do something as basic as use the middleware on a different network, you had to completely renegotiate the license,” said Unmesh Kulkarni, technology leader of the software and information systems (SWIS) department within Covad, that is responsible for automation of all sales and support operations for the Covad network services. “This inflexibility was really hampering our ability to innovate, which is a cornerstone of our company.”

Additionally, the proprietary systems – both the hardware and the software – were prohibitively expensive. “We were spending millions of dollars on these proprietary solutions, and knew we could find a cheaper alternative,” said Kulkarni.

But, as important as cutting costs were, Covad couldn’t afford to compromise on quality and availability. Its middleware platform was the basis for a broad range of mission-critical applications.

For example, it had built a “prequalification engine” that sales representatives use to determine which Covad services are available to a potential customer at a particular location. “You have to go through a lot of data to come up with an answer quickly,” said Kulkarni. “Our applications often had less than two seconds to respond, otherwise the customer won’t wait, and we lose the sale.” Because Covad gets literally millions of these requests every day from hundreds of partners, “this was an absolutely mission-critical system, and our middleware needed to be robust enough to handle it,” he said.

Solution:

Kulkarni, a long-time proponent of open source, had been keeping his eye on the developments of JBoss Enterprise Middleware for some time. His team performed extensive due diligence of both the technology and the company, and the decision turned out to be an easy one. “In the last few years, JBoss has not only caught up with the leading middleware platforms, but overtaken them in many areas. JBoss Enterprise Application Platform had everything we needed in a technology platform: it offered superior performance; a full range of functionality; high-quality support; and was reasonably priced,” said Kulkarni. “Clearly, JBoss was our best option going forward.”

Today, Covad has x86 and SPARC machines running JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, and running JBoss Operations Network, an integrated management platform that simplifies the development, testing, deployment and monitoring of JBoss Enterprise Middleware.

Benefits:

COIG is looking to further expand its Red Hat deployment by upgrading its Red Hat Network subscription to the Satellite Server, which will provide even greater functionality and customisation. COIG also plans on expanding its SAP deployment by installing the SAP portal.

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