Related: Colorado county user

One of the biggest challenges for James Lindauer, technical manager of IT development for Jefferson County, Colo., is to keep mission-critical applications running while upgrading hardware and systems software. The integration issue particularly affects the 774-square mile county's most critical application - a County Address Management System (CAMS) that links addresses to information about each parcel of land.

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The system presents an integration nightmare to Lindauer's staff. Not only is it tied into the county's financial package and document management system, it also accepts information from 11 county departments.

Last year the county decided to move to a J2EE enterprise platform. Lindauer considered a number of alternatives. "We wanted a proven enterprise solution that was J2EE-licensed, scalable and very affordable," he said.

The path to selecting BEA wound through various options. Lindauer said one major application server manufacturer was not flexible on price. One application server was not a proven enterprise solution. Another vendor was not mature enough to have adequate documentation and support. "We didn't want to invest in risky outfits that are here today, gone tomorrow," he said.

In the end, the county decided on BEA Systems for its WebLogic Enterprise Platform, and in September deployed two components of that platform, WebLogic Server and WebLogic Integration.

With its move to WebLogic, the county has gone to a hub-and-spoke architecture that did away with point-to-point connections between applications, thereby reducing integration problems and decreasing system administration costs. By using WebLogic Integration to offload business logic from the applications' presentation tier, the county reduced software maintenance overhead. Previously, 20% of the development staff was devoted to software maintenance. Since deploying WebLogic Integration, Lindauer said the same number of developers completed 2.5 more projects than they did in the previous 12-month period.

The county is now migrating mission-critical applications off its AS/400 system to its seven development and four production HP Unix/Linux servers. The county started writing basic Java applications in 2000, and, according to Lindauer, a half dozen or so now run off WebLogic Server 6.1.

The county will soon upgrade to WebLogic Server 7.0 to "lower the cost of software ownership," said Lindauer. At that time they also expect to move to the WebLogic Workshop development platform. "Using Workshop will allow us to create Web services in a more timely manner," he added.

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