Helio / SK Telecom - 2008 JBoss Innovation Award Winner

March 7, 2008

Helio/SK Telecom submitted by Junwon Lee, Manager, Convergence and Internet R&D Center, SK Telecom

Customer: SK Telecomm Co., Ltd

Industry: Telecomm
Geography: APAC
Country: Korea


SK Telecom (www.sktelecom.com), Korea’s leading wireless telecommunications services provider, and Helio (www.helio.com), an advanced U.S. mobile service provider, were selected for their use of JBoss Enterprise Application Platform and JBoss jBPM to build and streamline its wireless data portal (WDP). After deploying Red Hat solutions, Helio quickly experienced cost reductions. Operational savings amounted to 50 percent monthly and the company experienced a 90 percent reduction in commercial software and licensing costs.


SK Telecom SK Telecom is a mobile network operator in Korea and the leader in the Korean telecommunications market. SK Telecom has over 50 percent of the market share in Korea with nearly 20 million subscribers. The revenue is $11,368 million USD and net income is about 1,544 million USD. (based on 2006, 1USD = 937KRW) Helio Helio is a U.S.-based MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) and has about 600 employees.

Business Challenge:

Helio’s core mobile Internet infrastructure system, wireless data portal (WDP), serves as a mobile web portal, manages and delivers mobile content, and manages customer/device information. Its service was released to the market in May 2006. Simultaneously, WDP 1.0 was launched to provide wireless data service to subscribers. This system was implemented based on the Unix operating system WebLogic, Oracle, and commercial BPM software.

WDP 1.0 was not designed for U.S. businesses, so it was difficult for Helios to work with U.S.-based business partners, and a BPM tool in the system often malfunctioned, resulting in significant amount of data loss. Having been built on a commercial operating system, middleware, and application server, the maintenance, licensing, and hardware costs surged as the number of subscribers grew.

The WDP 2.0 project had several missions to complete, which involved incorporating middleware, support, and flexibility.

When a runtime environment is constructed with JBoss, instead of being single-use, it can be paired with a JMX management tool, which saves on maintenance. Also, with open source, costs are low, but the technology stays competitive with higher-priced commercial solutions. Additionally, open source model development provides more secure and higher-quality code, and there is no vendor lock-in. JBoss also offers an impressive customer base and track record.


The desired solution was to create a joint migration project, substituting WDP 1.0 with WDP 2.0, an open source-based platform, splitting resources and budget between SK Telecom and Helio. The migration would resolve the problems inherent with using using the previous system and to meet new requirements for working with U.S.-based providers. These changes would be reflected in the new system, WDP 2.0. Priorities included minimizing the system management cost, and offering better functionality, performance, and stability.

WDP 2.0 is comprised of four server groups: web, application, download, and database. JBoss Web Server (WS), JBoss Application Server (AS), and jBPM modules are installed on each server in accordance with its usage. The new WDP 2.0 platform has various types of business processes that administrators have to perform or confirm. Business Process Management (BPM) enables administrators to monitor and control the “to-do” list in an easy and flexible way. Hence, every request submitted by content providers can be completed very quickly, turning a very complex process into a very simple one via the Business Design Tool.

WDP 2.0 platform enables enhanced support for new target deployment platforms. With the added flexible support requirements & features, installation for alternate operating systems will be made possible, including the various flavors of Linux available in the marketplace. Additionally, the targeted runtime environment will be supported on open source platforms and systems, and providing support for other J2EE application servers adds enhanced flexibility in installation and production deployment scenarios. Adding the JBoss Application Server (AS) to the mix as a target deployment platform also helps to minimize the licensing costs and overall cost per deployment. WDP 2.0 is composed of two web servers, two web application servers, two download servers, and three Database servers.


Helio reduced system maintenance costs, saved approximately 65 percent in hardware costs, saved 90 percent in purchasing commercial software and paying maintenance fees, and saved 80 percent for systems operation and maintenance in comparison to its previous solution. Additionally, Helio saved approximately $25,000 per month on service operational costs.

With the wireless data portal platform based on open source, the initial system construction cost for SK Telecom will be reduced significantly when launching services in an international project. Consequently, this means that SK Telecom can have more opportunities for global business, including in China and Southeast Asia.

With JBoss’ open source solutions, we were able to adopt advanced technology that was available for a fraction of the price of our previous solution. We were hesitant to adopt an open source solution at first, but encourage other to have confidence in open source technology because there are excellent support options and resources available. We have had no problems with our JBoss solution and are producing higher-quality service for a lower cost.

We utilized consulting for the migration from WebLogic to JBoss in order to help predict any problems that might result from the switchover, as well as what the managing strategy should be for the revised project plan. The results of the consultation were effective numbers for the necessary amount of man power and the timeframe for the switch, which helped contribute to a successful completion of the project.

The main use of consulting was concentrated on the BPM tool conversion, mostly on the functional differences between the commercial BPM and jBPM. Thanks in large part to the advice gained, a successful conversion to jBPM was realized and has since been successfully managed.

For the successful WDP project, we had our developers receive JBoss training. After the training, they have, in turn, trained the other developers. This series of education induced them to develop projects with a clear understanding of JBoss technologies and methodologies.

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