Rivet Logic Corporation - 2008 JBoss Innovator of the Year

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March 7, 2008

Customer: Rivet Logic Corporation

Industry: Consulting
Geography: North America
Country: United States


Solution:

Rivet Logic, a provider of professional services focused on open source solutions, and Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses, were selected for their use of Alfresco’s content management platform in support of the upgrade of Kaplan’s online presence from a legacy system to a JBoss-centric solution. The teams employed JBoss Seam (and Facelets), JBoss Application Server, Hibernate and jBPM to create a next-generation platform for the www.kaptest.com site that can deliver personalized applications and dynamic, targeted content. The results include a 26x performance improvement over the legacy content authoring/delivery system, much faster page load times and a “fresher” web presence for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.

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Background:

This is a joint submission by the following three companies: Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions (KTPA) Nearly 70 years ago, Kaplan pioneered the test prep industry. Today, as a division of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO), Kaplan has become the leading educational services company in the worldand#8212;helping more than 3 million individuals achieve their educational and career goals through programs ranging from high school and college admissions consulting to graduate school, professional licensing, and English language training. Kaptest.com is the companyand#8217;s portal to these programs. The site is divided into unique communities where customers can find programs, read articles, access special events, tools, and moreand#8212;all geared towards their specific goals and interests. Alfresco Software Ltd. Alfresco is the first and leading open source alternative for enterprise content management. It is the first company to bring the power of open source to the enterprise content management market, enabling unprecedented scale and a much lower total cost of ownership than proprietary systems. Rivet Logic Corporation and#8211; Systems Integrator of Open Source Software; Red Hat Advanced Business Partner; Alfresco Gold Partner and North American and#8220;Partner of the Yearand#8221; Rivet Logic provides professional open source services and solutions that help organizations engage with customers, improve collaboration, and streamline operations. We offers a full suite of JBoss professional services including deployment, customization, and integration and#8212; enabling clients to fully leverage the power of the worldand#8217;s leading open source enterprise middleware stack. With complementary expertise in the Alfresco content management platform, Rivet Logic offers integrated content-rich and SOA-enabled solutions that power a new generation of interactive web properties, enterprise intranet applications, and collaborative Web 2.0 communities.

Business Challenge:

KTPA’s primary web presence for its potential and actual customers is www.kaptest.com, which includes 10+ domains, 14,000+ unique pages, and 250,000+ contens, and a personalized experience for hundreds of thousands of students. The legacy system challenged business operations in terms of time, resources, usability, and performance.

  • Time: The legacy system sometimes required a 2 week publishing cycle because of technical issues.
  • Resources: The legacy system required IT involvement to support both web content authoring, and publishing content to the web content delivery system.
  • Usability: The legacy system had an editorial authoring environment that was not user friendly.
  • Performance: The legacy system was not performing well as traffic load increased, and scaling it out required additional high cost licenses.

One of the primary reasons JBoss was selected over other open source frameworks/stacks was KTPA’s past experience with Red Hat/JBoss support, which in our experience was always outstanding and extremely responsive. In addition, the following attributes of the JBoss/Seam/Facelets stack were critically important:

  1. Cutting edge technology, allowing us to start innovating with our web presence.
  2. Very high performance.
  3. Open architecture, Open source
  4. Easy integration with the Alfresco web content management platform.

Furthermore, the JBoss Seam + Facelets combination helped our content delivery system framework to achieve a true, enterprise-class modern web presence and platform.

Solution:

KTPA required a solution that:

  1. Supported publishing on demand.
  2. Required no IT involvement during content authoring, content review/ approval/workflow, and publishing to the web.
  3. Supported robust enterprise architectural principles, such as clean separation of content from presentation, and web content management from web application development.
  4. Had an intuitive and user-friendly authoring environment.
  5. Incorporated a fast, high performance application stack and content delivery framework. Further, it should be scalable, stable, enterprise level, inexpensive and be based on Java.
  6. Allowed KTPA to pay for support, not for licenses.
  7. Enabled reuse of components, as supported by Seam, Facelets, and JSF.
  8. Support an open source, Java based CMS (Alfresco).
  9. Quality support should be available and good community background.
  10. Should use open standards (not proprietary).
  11. Support a designer-friendly framework for the presentation and a pluggable, middle tier framework. Templating, re-use of content, and ease of design/development were top priorities for the presentation framework.
  12. And session management was a key requirement to the project. Components that can be controlled based on the scope of the session was a key technical requirement for the platform we were going to choose.

The entire kaptest.com infrastructure is now running on what we call the Enteprise Content Authoring and Delivery System (ECADS), which was built by Rivet Logic and KTPA using JBoss AS, Seam, Facelets, Hibernate, jBPM, and Alfresco. ECADS is a system for authoring and publishing of web content for multiple, commonly hosted, websites. ECADS leverages the robust Alfresco XForms-based, multi-sandbox, layered versioning, content authoring system as a foundation for web content authoring (along with jBPM for workflow); and combines that with JBoss Seam’s powerful bijection, fine-grained scope management, and JSF extensions for content delivery. The content delivery framework portion of ECADS was built on JBoss Seam and EJB 3.0 with Hibernate-based JPA. The bulk of the delivery framework was built using Seam-wired POJO-based services with various scoping to accommodate the different life-cycle requirements. Lower layer services provide a foundation and an abstraction for the upper layers and is application scoped; where as higher layers that present data to the user were session scoped Seam Listeners answering directly to JSF components. The layers comprising the content delivery framework are:

  1. WCM Layer: Abstracts the run-time instance of the Web Content Management System.
  2. XML Layer: Handles the parsing and merging of the XML descriptors.
  3. Accessor Layer: Domain specific layer that shares the context (from a terminology perspective) of the content-rich application (website).
  4. Presentation Layer: Renders the final result to the user.
  5. URI Transformation Layer: Transforms inbound/outbound URIs based on a pluggable transformer pipeline The presentation layer is especially interesting as it makes heavy use of Seam bijection to render the final page to the end user. And Alfresco was extended to support JBoss Seam for both preview and final publishing of websites.

The production environment for kaptest.com is a multi-tier, multi-node system in a high-availability configuration. Key specifications include: Hardware nodes include: 8GB RAM 64bit CPUs Software installed includes: Red had Linux 2.6.9 EL Apache2 Mod JK JBoss AS 4.0.5 Java 5 – JRockit on 64 bit hw Facelets JSF RI 1.2 JBoss Seam 1.2.1 EJB 3(JBoss Hibernate) EHCache standard OS libraries like Apache Commons Alfreco WCM v2.0.1 Oracle 10g.

Did you leverage JBoss support services, training, or consulting? If so, please describe your experience?

For the most part, the JBoss stack and Seam framework were very stable. We utilized JBoss support for a handful of issues, mainly related to advanced, cutting edge features in Seam. JBoss support was very responsive, providing bug fixes and patches to resolve issues. JBoss (and Alfresco) consulting and development was provided by Rivet Logic.

Benefits:

The new kaptest.com was launched in early November 2007, and since then the value gained has been manifold:

  1. Streamlined business operations and improved productivity. The KTPA editorial team has complete control over the content authoring and publishing process, with no involvement from IT required.
  2. Better customer experience through much higher performance. We are seeing up to 26x performance improvement with the JBoss-based web application/content delivery system when compared to the legacy system. Specifically, current kaptest.com page load times are typically less than 1 second even under high load (which is remarkable for a dynamic web site!), whereas the legacy system took up to 13 seconds for a page load. Browse www.kaptest.com to see a high-performance JBoss/Seam application in action.
  3. Improved productivity and a “fresher” web presence through on-demand web publishing: KTPA editors can now author and publish new content to the web within 8 minutes, contrasted with days and weeks with the legacy system.
  4. Much higher ROI because of zero licensing costs. KTPA resources are now focused on support and development of innovation, instead of software licenses.

JBoss Seam and Alfresco WCM is a wonderful platform for enterprise-grade, high-performance, rich content delivery for next generation web sites.

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