Infrastructure re-use can be a good idea!

Application platforms used in production are often integrated with other systems as part of an enterprise solution. When used in this way, multiple applications are expected to interact with each other and in many cases share infrastructure. For example, an LDAP sever can be used by many applications for user authentication. Technology re-use promotes standardization and increases return on investment.

However, if you read some of the marketing materials from middleware vendors you might be led to believe that re-use is not a valid consideration. Well, at least not a consideration provided the cost to acquire a piece of technology to match a vendors packaging helps raise the TCO of a competitor. Examples of this type of reasoning can be found in some of the content posted on the http://whywebsphere.com blog.[1]

Let me dig into this a little further using the IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment edition packaging as an example. This IBM product includes several “supporting programs”,[2] including an LDAP server. However, customers are “authorized to install and use such Supporting Programs only to support Licensee’s use of the Principal Program under this Agreement and within the limits of the Proofs of Entitlement for the Program”.[3] This text from the IBM license agreement highlights that supporting programs provided with IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment edition are not available for unrestricted use.

Such license restrictions may limit the value of IBM supporting programs for production deployments. In fact, use of IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment edition supporting programs could increase costs. For example, assume there is a central LDAP server already in place in a datacenter. Second, assume a decision has been made to use the LDAP server included with IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment edition to just support applications deployed on that application platform.

  • Does the central corporate LDAP server need to be synchronized with the IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment edition LDAP server?
  • What are the costs associated with implementing this synchronization?
  • What are the long term maintenance costs associated with multiple LDAP servers in production?

An additional question is, does usage of IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment edition supporting programs promote vendor lock in? The IBM license agreement includes text stating “When Licensee’s right to use the Program expires or terminates, Licensee must discontinue use, destroy or promptly return all copies of the Supporting Programs to the party from whom Licensee acquired the Program.”[4] In the example LDAP scenario, the IBM support program does implement the LDAP v3 standard. Therefore switching out to another LDAP server supporting the v3 standard should work seamlessly. However, the management and monitoring associated with the LDAP server is not a standard and will likely be different if another vendors product is used. For IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment edition supporting programs with functionality not covered by a standard–like IBM WebSphere eXtreme Scale–the impact of vendor lock in may be even more dramatic.

[1] “WebSphere vs. JBoss license cost calculator.” WhyWebSpherecom Blog. N.p., 8 Apr. 2014. Web. 23 May 2014. <http://whywebsphere.com/2014/04/08/websphere-vs-jboss-license-cost-calculator/>.
[2] IBM license information form number L-JTHS-94HLS7 – “IBM License Information document.” IBM Software license agreements. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. <http://www-03.ibm.com/software/sla/sladb.nsf/lilookup/4D0F46D8A597A26485257B7E0063185A?opendocument&li_select=52C9A5247AA65C3885257B7E0063184D >.
[3] Ibid 2.
[4] Ibid 2.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *