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So there is an insurance company which wants to move long term its proprietorially written software for different insurance products to a new platform / framework / concept / something. One of the applications is ~700 pages big. We would require some workflow application (ibm websphere products?). Transaction control, historisation, support for running batches, integration of different systems (basically our DB2 is on a host zOs system). The front end is a web gui. The business logic code is written in C++. We would like to move step by step to the new environment.

What would be good options?

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Which company? Just to check whether I need to change... –  mouviciel Dec 8 '11 at 16:06
    
your tags suggest you want java frameworks, is that actually true? is there any more context you can give? –  Ryathal Dec 8 '11 at 16:49
    
yes we should move (I think) to Java since we got some expertise with it and it's a settled language. An @mouviciel you don't really expect me to answer that, do you? ;-) –  Toskan Dec 8 '11 at 19:01
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2 Answers

Why do they want to move? Answering that question is pretty important.

On the Java/JVM side I would look at Matt Raible's comparison on comparing web frameworks and then take his advice on putting your own weights on the 20 criteria (+ perhaps some criteria of your own) and then picking the top 2 to prototype with.

Please do prototype several solutions before settling on one :-).

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Can you fix the link? I would like to read the article. –  maple_shaft Dec 8 '11 at 16:08
    
Stuff moves around - so I've linked to his SlideShare account, the really interesting part is the methodology, not the results –  Martijn Verburg Dec 8 '11 at 18:56
    
honestly - I think the decision to move came because it got pretty hard to acquire new programmers when you tell them that they will be writing C++ code - for an insurance company. Try to find young cobol developers. We expect to move within 10 years. uff i cannot access your link because of our company security, they're pretty strict –  Toskan Dec 8 '11 at 19:04
    
Grab the link when you get home - it's got a list of 20 criteria that are actually applicable to most web stacks (not just JVM based). Some of the criteria do talk about the job market for talent etc so that fits with some of your thinking. –  Martijn Verburg Dec 8 '11 at 19:31
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Were I able to completely re-platform the applications at the insurance company I work for, I would look into doing it with a Business Process Management/Business Rules Management system such as what PegaSystems offers. Use this to integrate your JEE app.

First establish the framework. Again, something like

Then extract what you actual processes are and what your business rules are. You can do this on an application by application basis.

Write a system that can perform the processes independent of what the actual rules are.

Plug in the rules.

There are a ton of advantages to separating rules from process from data, but it's hard to migrate to the model without completely rewriting your approach.

Oh, and if you're looking for which actual technologies to use--in the JEE world, the JBoss stack is a better bet the IBM's ugliness.

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the images of that product pegasystems make me think that they're selling bullshit. Just have a look at the picture where people are cheering at a piece of paper. If we were starting anew it might actually be a good point... and it would be great if you would give some more concrete examples. Since data abstraction is done for us as well as we try to move all rules into separate functions (not as successfully though). –  Toskan Dec 8 '11 at 19:13
    
I agree the pictures look like BS, and I'm not saying they're the only way to abstract your rules and processes. They're nice in that they have a mature project that integrates it all nicely. You could achieve similar separation using JBoss's Drools and jBPM. –  Matthew Flynn Dec 8 '11 at 20:04
    
As for concrete examples, that's a little tricky. Here we use IBM's ILOG for pricing claims and that sort of thing, and Websphere Process Manager to do workflow, but we have never done a good job of bringing it all together. As I said, it's tough to evolutionarily move to BPM/BRM. Another system here dealt with a sequence of processes and transformations. Basically, we'd apply rules to figure out which process to run based on the current state and then apply rules to transform the information the process gave us back. It worked well as the processes were stable but the rules changed a lot. –  Matthew Flynn Dec 8 '11 at 20:15
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