Volume 3, Number 22 -- June 13, 2006

Unisys Tools Migrate WebLogic/Unix Stack to JBoss/Linux

Corrected: June 13, 2006

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Server maker Unisys, which was perhaps the earliest and staunchest supporter of Windows in the data center, has been advocating Linux on its ES7000 platforms for nearly two years now and is aggressively embracing open source software outside of the operating system. It is, in many ways, a lot easier to target Unix platforms, as Unisys has been doing, with a Linux stack than a Windows stack, which is why Unisys should have been supporting Linux for many more years than it has.

But, that is all water under the bridge now, and Unisys gets Linux, and more importantly, it gets open source software and how application servers, databases, and other open source programs are being deployed in hybrid open/closed solutions in the data centers of the world. Last week, Unisys announced that it had created certified stacks of open source software that it would sell and support itself, with the assistance and blessing of the companies behind the open source projects. (See Unisys Peddles Open Source Stacks with Oasis Effort.) This week, at the JBoss World tradeshow, Unisys is launching the JBoss Migration Solution, which is a porting service that is initially targeted at moving customers who have BEA Systems' WebLogic application server and related middleware and development tools running on RISC/Unix servers. With the JBMS service, Unisys has created a migration assessment and workshop service that helps customers put together a migration from WebLogic on Unix to the JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite running on Linux. The JBMS service includes a migration toolkit that automates the movement rejiggering of servers, operating systems, and application software so they point to JBoss running on Linux in a consistent and proper way. The tool also creates a knowledgebase and system/application blueprints as customers do one migration, which can then be used to do successive migrations.

Nobody does migrations from one platform to another unless they think they can save a lot of money, and when customers say they want to simplify their data centers, they mean they want to standardize on fewer server and operating system platforms in an effort to save money. Unisys has long since concluded that companies will increasingly move their applications to Windows and Linux, which is why the company is backing these two platforms and has not, as yet, embraced Solaris on the ES7000 servers. As consolidation and simplification pressures affect servers and operating systems, so too do they affect the middleware layer, and with JBoss gaining huge mindshare and delivering a cross-platform Java application server that rivals IBM's WebSphere, BEA's WebLogic, and Oracle's Application Server, JBoss is, like Linux itself, a reasonably vendor-neutral choice. JBoss runs on Windows, Linux, and Unix, and arguably has the largest installed base after being on the market for a short time. This is why commercial Linux distributor Red Hat has acquired JBoss.

To be successful with its WebLogic-to-JBoss porting business, Unisys is going to have to show it can save customers a substantial amount of money, therefore. For one thing, the consultants at Unisys do the initial migration from WebLogic on Unix to JBoss on Linux for customers, and the tools Unisys has created help speed this process up. (Time is money.) Unisys is happy to sell its ES7000 servers as part of a migration, but according to Anthony Gold, vice president and general manager of the open source business line at Unisys, the company expects many times to deploy JBoss and Linux on existing servers at customer sites.

While services vendors are generally loathe to provide pricing for their services, Unisys did give a little guidance for what customers can expect to pay for the JBMS service. First of all, Unisys says that it is more difficult to migrate from older versions of WebLogic than from newer ones, so this takes more time and money. If customers use proprietary extensions to the J2EE spec that WebLogic includes, this also adds to the cost. Having given this qualification, Gold says that a small migration would cost on the order of tens of thousands of dollars, but more complex projects would cost a lot more. As an example, Unisys says that migrating ten Java applications running on WebLogic on Unix servers that support 800 users that are based on 1,000 Java Server Pages and 600 tables in a relational database could take several person-months to do the port, even with the tools Unisys has developed, and that this migration would cost somewhere in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars. The main payback that Unisys is banking on is that is can do these migrations relatively fast.

Gold would not talk about it, but the next obvious thing for Unisys to do is to create porting tools and methodologies that port IBM WebSphere and Oracle Application Server to the JBoss/Linux stack.

This story has been corrected since it originally ran. We had said that the migration for the larger migration would cost in the low millions of dollars, when in fact it costs in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars. IT Jungle regrets the error. [Corrected 06/13/06]


Unisys Peddles Open Source Stacks with Oasis Effort

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Kevin Vandever,
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