System News
Java Technology and the Cobalt Group's Online Marketplace
Motorplace Auto Exchange and Cobalt Nitra
March 18, 2002,
Volume 49, Issue 3

When the Cobalt Group's business volume grew, the compnay decided to migrate its applications from CGI and Perl, which were on a Linux VA operating base system, to a JavaTM technology base. The Cobalt Group provides e-business applications and services to the automotive industry.

Motorplace Auto Exchange is Cobalt's first JavaTM 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EETM) technology-based product. It is an online marketplace for selling off-lease vehicles to used car dealers. It enables financial institutions that hold auto lease paper to quickly find dealerships willing to purchase those off-lease used vehicles from the financial institution and resell them to their customers.

Cobalt's e-business solutions include Web services, Web site hosting, e-commerce applications, Internet-based customer relationship management applications, data management, contract professional development services, and best practices training and consulting. Cobalt has relationships with 52 of the top 100 dealer groups and 14 auto manufacturers.

"We had pretty much pushed our existing platform to its limits and needed the scalability of the J2EE platform to continue our growth," explained Mike Martinez, vice president of Marketing for Cobalt. "The automotive industry was standardizing on Java technology, a trend that's only accelerated since then. Our customers needed us to be on a J2EE platform base so they could readily integrate other Java technology-based solutions."

Another application is Cobalt Nitra, which links manufacturers and dealers via a hosting environment. Clients can easily link Cobalt Nitra with their own Enterprise JavaBeansTM (EJBTM) component-based applications. Cobalt Nitra leverages Java technology's security provisions and enforces commonly accepted business rules.

Cobalt Nitra provides for an elaborate system of information access permissions read-write, read-only and no access based on several aspects of a user's position in the dealership network. "The data access hierarchy capabilities we're introducing are unprecedented in the industry," said Martinez, "and they'd be very difficult to implement without the flexible object environment of the J2EE platform. Its pluggable components make all the difference in the world." There is a Nitra basic package and a professional package.

Sun provides the hardware platforms for Cobalt's new generation of applications and services. At the back end of the configuration lie three Sun EnterpriseTM 4500 Servers that manage an Oracle database stored on two Sun StorEdgeTM A5200 Disk Arrays. Ten Sun EnterpriseTM 220R Servers run Cobalt's applications and fulfill LDAP, DNS, FTP and email tasks.

The system is front-ended by eleven Sun EnterpriseTM 420R Web Servers. Cobalt's QA, testing and pre-production needs are satisfied by six Sun EnterpriseTM 450 application Servers and six NetraTM T1 Web Servers. Development is performed using two Sun EnterpriseTM 250 Servers front-ended by 24 UltraTM and Sun BladeTM Workstations. They run on the SolarisTM Operating Environment (Solaris OE). All the equipment is protected by SunSpectrumSM support service.

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