Stater Further Increases Stability and Performance of Mission-Critical Applications with JBoss Enterprise Application Platform

November 11, 2011

Customer: Stater N.V.

“Since first deploying JBoss Enterprise Application Platform nine months ago, we have experienced zero downtime." -- Hans Ernsten, project manager, Stater

Geography: EMEA
Country: Netherlands


Migration Path:

Oracle WebLogic to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5

Solution:

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5, JBoss Operations Network, Red Hat® Consulting

Hardware:

HP ProLiant DL380R06 X/L5520 1P quad core 2.26GHz 8MB L3 cache / 2 x 8 GB UDIMM; EMC San storage

Benefits:

Enhanced stability and error detection; Achieved cost savings through open source software; Simplified development and deployment; Increased transparency

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Background:

Stater was founded in January 1997 as an independent service provider in the mortgage market. Since then, Stater has grown to become an international force in the financial market with over 900 employees. Headquartered in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, Stater also has branch locations in Bonn, Germany and Brussels, Belgium. Over one million mortgage loans are under the administration of the Stater Mortgage System. The financial company currently handles approximately 35 percent of all mortgages in the Netherlands. Stater focuses on streamlining the mortgage loan procedure from start to finish and prides itself on running a fully-automated, paperless mortgage process. Stater supports every aspect of the mortgage procedure and it is important that this support remains invisible to the customer.

Business Challenge:

Because each customer is different, Stater created an innovative, mid-office system, known internally as 'Estate' to further enable customization and improve efficiency of mortgage processes and procedures.

To guarantee further development of Estate, Stater’s software development department required the latest edition of Java. Version 1.4 was no longer supported and the upgraded Java 1.6 version offered Stater the enhanced functionality necessary to accommodate an increased data allowance and improved application development.

Moreover, developing software with a legacy version of Java meant Stater was unable to harness supported frameworks such as Aquima 8 and Spring. Aquima version 5, which Stater used for modeling its business processes, was unable to perform release maintenance management for various customers. In addition, the Oracle WebLogic application platform hindered Stater from migrating to the latest edition of Java.

Having decided that simply updating to version 10 of Oracle’s WebLogic was insufficient to support Stater’s evolving customer needs, the company opted to migrate to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5 to take advantage of the latest Java developments and to apply release maintenance management on Aquima, the company’s modeling software.

Solution:

Red Hat Consulting helped Stater migrate its existing applications from Oracle WebLogic 8 to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform. JBoss Enterprise Application Platform was primarily adopted for Stater’s Estate system, and the company quickly extended its use of JBoss solutions to in-house e-applications such as e-Notaris and e-Intermediair, which allows notaries and intermediaries to view the status of loans online, make transactions, and collate payments. All the applications are unlocked via the web, whereas Oracle WebLogic was only partially web-based.

Stater’s IT department employs 200 people, including approximately 50 developers who use workstations running JBoss Enterprise Middleware. Using Eclipse, Stater developers write code, test the code on their workstations, and then, if successful, roll them out where required.

“We looked at our network situation and thought about where we would like to be in the next ten years,” said Hans Ernsten, project manager at Stater. “We realized that we don’t want to be dependent on a supplier nor a platform, which is why we selected JBoss Enterprise Application Platform. Red Hat Consulting and Profict consultants, a JBoss Advanced Business Partner based in the Netherlands, have helped us create and set up the architecture, design the development environment, and convert applications. Together with our own developers they went through the lines of code and developed Estate, e-applications, product configuration, and authorization configuration that are now all independent of any particular platform.”

The new infrastructure enables Stater to update customer releases without having to shut down applications in progress. This functionality will be available at the end of 2011. The number of servers, both at Stater and at a remote back-up location, has been expanded from four to six because the company expects the number of Estate users to increase.

“Our new application infrastructure has been operational for about a year now and we see more and more users switching from our solution iSHS (Internationaal Stater Hypotheken Systeem) to Estate because they want guaranteed performance,” said Ernsten. “Estate is also very user friendly; the user interface is more intuitive and it is also web-based, therefore there are no iSHS function keys needed. Users only have to click to use the application, and future users will only need one day of training to get up to speed.”

Because Stater took advantage of Red Hat Consulting, employees received group lessons by a certified Red Hat consultant. “Our consultant explained how the environment works and what developers need to pay attention to,” said Ernsten. This training session was attended by all application managers and developer team leaders who support their employees by designing the workstations.

Benefits:

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 5 enables Stater to perform release maintenance management quickly and efficiently, which was one of the organization’s primary goals of the migration. The solution offers several additional benefits such as stability, security, and cost savings.

”When moving to open source software, we had to alter our thinking patterns,” said Ernsten. “And because of this, we were able to immediately reap the benefits of open source software with the subscription model and advanced enterprise support.”

Stater developed a basic structure, creating an uniform way of developing and deploying. Because of this basic structure, a fixed building method and cycle ensures that errors are easier to detect. “The development, testing, approval, and entering-into-production environments are all designed in an identical manner,” said Ernsten. “Everyone uses the same templates so they all work in the same way. This results in very clear development and deployment of applications. You can trace errors in every phase of DTAP, which is a big advantage.”

“Since first deploying JBoss Enterprise Application Platform nine months ago, we have experienced zero downtime,” said Ernsten. “JBoss solutions have offered us the security, manageability, and around-the-clock availability necessary to service our demanding customer base.”

Stater realized significant cost savings by avoiding the license fees for Oracle WebLogic and also benefits from increased speed and superior performance. Stater can now run several instances on one server and different version of applications can be tested simultaneously. The migration from Oracle WebLogic to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform has also allowed Stater to reduce its hardware sprawl.

“It was immediately apparent that Red Hat has a lot of experience leading its customers to adopt open source solutions,” said Ernsten. “The project was completed on time and within budget. If I call Red Hat with a question, I know I will receive an answer and a solution to the issue within 24 hours. That is not always the case with Red Hat’s competitors.”

Holding a unique position in the European Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) market, Stater has designed its IT infrastructure to be scalable and future-proof. In the coming months, Stater will move the remaining customers from iSHS mid-office to Estate to enable them to benefit from the new system. After the completion of the project, all operational employees at Stater, as well as all lenders and intermediary operational employees, will use the new application.

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