Logo for WorldxChange CommunicationsFull GlassFish adoption questionnaire responses from Grant McLaren of WorldxChange Communications.

Date : April 2008

* Can you tell us about the application, site, or service in which you have adopted GlassFish?

Here at WorldxChange Communications NZ http://www.wxc.co.nz we had just won the NZ Telecommunications Carrier of the Year 2007, yet we had no online system for our customers to actively view their call records and past history information. Due to exponential growth, our resources were tight and the focus had primarily been channelled towards provisioning new customers, rather than creating new interactive tools for our existing customer base. A quick comparison with our competitors helped us to re-focus, and remember that our strength in the marketplace is and always has been our dedication to delivering a quality service to our customers that serves their needs first and foremost. So we embarked on this important strategic initiative to develop and launch a customer online portal to view account services, real time call records and past and present invoices and information.

ViewBill Portal Link https://viewbill.xport.co.nz/

* How and when did you first find out about GlassFish?

Accepting the mission to create something ‘quick and dirty’ with tight resources - the term ‘dirty’ being used to convey a need to create a quality system in a timely manner avoiding the temptation to over-engineer the initial brief and tie up resources. My aim was to get this exciting project underway and construct a solid base from which the web developers could build from, and further extend my technical knowledge and skill set.

I had previously done some web development with Ruby on Rails so was initially looking to utilise this coding framework; but found that the Mongrel web server did not support SSL and so would require an Apache server in front of it, in order to provide a secure platform for our network and protect our customers. With the view to getting the basics right to keep the project simple and efficient, this added layer of complexity seemed unnecessary and only served to provide us with another possible point of failure.

After looking for web servers that supported SSL, I came across Glassfish. From my perspective, the main advantage was that I could deploy my JRuby project war file directly to Glassfish, allowing me to develop and test our online ViewBill portal using a production grade, scalable web server.

* Did you go through an evaluation process before selecting GlassFish?

As above

* What specific version of GlassFish are you using?

We are using GlassFish version 2 which came bundled with Sun Java System Application Server 9.1_01 (build b09d-fcs).

* On what operating system do you run GlassFish? Do you use the same OS for both development and production deployment?

I use Windows XP and Netbeans 6.1 beta with JRuby release 1.1RC2 as my development platform. The Netbeans IDE has a built in Webrick web server that is excellent for rapid development and testing.

* On what hardware platform do you run GlassFish? Do you use the same platform for both development and production deployment?

Our production environment runs on a Dell 1750 Server with a Centos 4.5 operating system.

* Have you purchased support for GlassFish? If not, have you thought about doing so and do you know it includes access to patches and sustaining releases?

No we haven’t purchased support for this yet as the ViewBill online portal is a free additional service for our customers, and reliance on this system does not impact our core network and switching service. Presently we have built a basic system but would expect that over time when the functions of the ViewBill system expand, we will review our support requirements.

* What specific features or modules of GlassFish are you using?

I regularly use the Admin Console for deployments and viewing of web server statistics.

* What do you like most about GlassFish?

I like the fact that it is a production grade web server that is reliable, scalable and packed full of features. As we traditionally use Apache web servers, Glassfish fulfilled the requirements of this project and it was easily incorporated into our existing network. Not too mention being backed by the reputable company Sun, it made Glassfish the perfect choice.

* What would you most like to see improved in GlassFish?

I would like to see a feature added to the Admin Console interface to allow importing of SSL certificates.

* Are you using any open source or commercial frameworks or tools in your application?

The ViewBill online portal has been developed solely using Netbeans 6.1 with JRuby release 1.1RC2 framework.

* Does your application use a database? If so, which one?

We use a JDBC connector to connect with our SQL Server 2005 data warehouse.


* Are there any figures about the scale of your adoption which you would like to share?

The ViewBill online portal has taken 8 weeks to learn, develop, test and deploy. A good week of this time was spent on integrating our ViewBill portal with our Broadsoft Platform http://www.broadsoft.com (Class 5 Telephony Soft Switch) to allow real time viewing.

We currently have over 5,000 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) customers using our Xnet VFX digital voice service, (http://www.xnet.co.nz/vfx/) who will potentially utilise the Viewbill system as it provides an easily accessible overview of the personalised settings on this feature-rich service (see Broadsoft screen shot below for example).

Screen Shot of BroadSoft Integration:

* How has GlassFish performed since your application went live? Have you run into any production issues which you would attribute to GlassFish?

From a geek perspective, we love that Glassfish combined with JRuby and allowed us to integrate many different disparate systems to create a seamless interface for our customers to use. Naturally we experienced some functional issues between running unit tests in the Webrick development platform, versus the Glassfish production environment. As a result I have recently started using the Glassfish v3 gem for final testing of new code releases and to check functionality prior to production deployment. This is to ensure that new features built in the development stage function as expected in the production environment. Since going live 2 months ago, we have had no reliability and performance issues with Glassfish.

* How would your describe your participation in the GlassFish project?

We are not involved with the Glassfish project, user only.

* Is there anything else you think would be of interest in a story about your GlassFish adoption?

This project started out as a development concept, and thanks to the professional presentation and performance of ViewBill, has now become fully endorsed by management and as such, has gone into production and release in a much quicker timeframe than anyone anticipated.

This is the first time I have provided feedback but have been motivated to do so as the ViewBill online portal has been such a great success – for an example of our first release (Feb ’08) please see the Customer Screen shot below.

Screen Shot of Customer Screen:

The company and more importantly our customers have been really impressed with the final result; they love the speed in which they can access their call records within minutes of hanging up the phone.

I do not believe that I could have developed this project any faster using different toolsets or technologies and have been massively impressed with the combination of Glassfish and JRuby.

I would recommend Glassfish to anyone but don’t take my word for it, read the customer feedback below;

This is the nicest billing portal I have ever used - excellent job.”

Totally awesome online bill. I could sit there for hours refreshing the page to see the graphs rebuild themselves… [this is] totally awesome!”

Wow what a handy service. Top marks WxC”

It is a tremendous improvement on the old system [viewing past invoices] it is much much faster, with far more information available, and the Graphical Analysis is extremely helpful in getting an overview of the spend over time, as well as a breakdown of call types.”