Suncorp Group includes leading general insurance, banking, life insurance, superannuation and investment brands in Australia and New Zealand. The Group has around 16,000 employees and relationships with nine million customers. It is a Top 25 ASX listed company with over $95 billion in assets. Suncorp has five core businesses: Personal Insurance; Commercial Insurance; Vero New Zealand; Suncorp Bank and Suncorp Life. These are supported by corporate and shared services divisions.
At this time Suncorp‘s Red Hat Java platforms run approx 330 JBoss
instances and approx 200 Tomcat
instances, consuming approx 200 RHEL servers. Both platforms continue to grow
at a steady rate.
- Brian Wallace, JBoss Platform Suncorp.
In 2009 Suncorp needed a new J2EE platform to replace its out-of-support application server platform as the strategic platform for Java applications.
Suncorp has numerous Java development teams supporting hundreds of applications and servicing diverse financial services lines of business. At the time these was no formal Java developers "community" at Suncorp that could be engaged to gather the desires and requirements of the Java developers
To provide an easier migration path for legacy applications we decided to build a new shared Tomcat platform based on Red Hat‘s Enterprise Web Server (EWS) product. Many of the learnings from the EAP project were transferable to the EWS project allowing this new platform to be delivered in a much shorter time than was the case for the EAP project. To date most application migrations have been to EWS rather than to EAP, although some of the EAP applications consume large numbers of instances.
The application migrations continue and are gathering pace. We eagerly await the release of EAP version 6 (JBoss 7) which introduces a modular micro-container and load-as-required operation which is expected to eliminate the class loading issues that have slowed the move of legacy applications to JBoss.
Industry: Insurance, banking, superannuation and investment
Geography: Australia and New Zealand
Software: Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP)
We created the JBoss Advisory Board, composed of developers from a broad variety of Java teams, to provide input to the project. Later these developers were given formal product training and became the ‘JBoss Champions‘, charged with championing migration to, and adoption of, JBoss in their individual development departments.
JBoss was selected as the technology, and Red Hat‘s Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) was selected as the commercial open source product.
In short order the Middleware team gained sufficient familiarity with the EAP product to make the basic design decisions necessary to start building Suncorp‘s JBoss shared platform. Modifications were made to the out-of-the-box build to ensure efficient use of Suncorp‘s infrastructure platform of virtualised Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) servers, and to ensure the platform could be managed by a small number of Engineers once it had scaled to thousands of JVM‘s.
Other build modifications allowed satisfaction of requirements such as being able to run multiple instances of JBoss per RHEL server whilst allocating and monitoring resources at the per instance level. During this project we collaborated extensively with Red Hat‘s support staff and on-site consulting Architects and Engineers. Ultimately we supplemented the available knowledge by bringing an Amentra consultant from the US to work with us on-site for some months.
Through the JBoss Champions and with the assistance of Suncorp‘s Applied Research department, extensive application profiling was conducted to determine which applications were expected to be simple to migrate and which would be more complex/expensive. Once the EAP platform was open-for-business the legacy application server platforms were placed into 'Contain' and 'Exit' statuses. Attention now turned to migrating applications to EAP.