Payara Platform is the core enterprise technology in the Red Oak Compliance Platform, which processes tens of millions of compliance approval workflow transactions every single year.
In this interview, Rick Grashel – the CTO of Red Oak Compliance – explains how Payara Micro is a perfect fit for their cloud environment.
Payara: Where is Red Oak Compliance located and what services and products does the company offer?
Rick: Red Oak Compliance is located in the United States in Austin, Texas. Our company is the premier SaaS vendor of financial compliance review workflow software globally. Our company also offers a large array of broker-dealer and investment adviser services in the US for major functions including advertising review, audits, email review, and RIA registration/setup.
Payara: Who are your main customers and where are they located?
Rick: Our main customers include asset management firms of all sizes (including huge global firms), banks, and insurance companies.
Payara: Red Oak has now fully migrated its applications from GlassFish over to the Payara Platform. How was the migration process?
Rick: The Red Oak Compliance Platform was initially built on GlassFish 3.1 and then migrated to GlassFish 4.1. Once the future of the GlassFish community and the platform itself came into question, we took six months to assess Payara Platform in our test environments. We were incredibly happy with the quality of the product and how easy it was to migrate all of our environments to Payara. We even had situations where we had to make code adjustments in our product because Payara Platform had fixed defects in the GlassFish base that we had coded workarounds for.
Payara: What kind of applications do you run on Payara Platform?
Rick: Payara Platform is the core enterprise technology in the Red Oak Compliance Platform. Our software is used by tens of thousands of users worldwide in every major global geography. We have over 30 instances – between development, test, and production environments – consisting of both Payara Server and Payara Micro. Our platform is used by tens of thousands of users worldwide, 24 hours a day, every single day and processes tens of millions of compliance approval workflow transactions every single year.
Payara: Can you give more details about your deployment architecture?
Rick: Our platform is deployed on Amazon AWS. We have Payara Server deployed directly on EC2 instances and also many instances of Payara Micro deployed within a fully-functioning Docker Swarm cluster which is replicated across multiple availability zones. Our deployment architecture has both server-based Java EE components as well as fully-clustered, containerized, and redundant microservices. All with Payara Platform at the core.
Payara: How is the Payara Platform working in the cloud environment?
Rick: We have found the Payara Platform to be an incredibly good fit for the cloud environment -most specifically, Payara Micro. We make heavy usage of Docker images published by Payara and use them as a foundation component of our own Docker images. We also make heavy usage of Eclipse MicroProfile implemented within Payara Micro, as well as Hazelcast for cluster-wide event-based communication.
Payara: Was there a specific challenge you faced in Red Oak business operations that the Payara Platform solved for you?
Rick: For the Red Oak Compliance platform, the two greatest challenges that we faced were the questionable community support for GlassFish and the lack of native support for microservices and container-based architecture. The Payara Platform solved both of these for us very nicely and did not require us to rewrite key portions of our code since it was completely GlassFish-compatible. It also enabled us to more easily and quickly implement our next-generation microservices container architecture.
Payara: What is your favourite tool in the Payara Platform?
Rick: Our favorite part of the Payara Platform is Payara Micro. Because of our deployment architecture, we make heavy use of Eclipse MicroProfile and also Hazelcast. Payara’s native MicroProfile implementation makes it much easier to deploy using Docker compose files and Docker Swarm. Payara Micro’s additional command-line options also make it incredibly easy to create Docker images which make full usage of capabilities such as Hazelcast, MicroProfile config, and secrets.
We are also extremely happy that Payara has an active community. We believe strongly in giving back to the community, so we actually have committed fixes back into the Payara codebase for some of those key Payara Micro features that we make heavy usage of.
Payara: If you could add a new tool in Payara Platform today, what would it be?
Rick: I think the Payara Platform is already incredibly robust. If there is one thing I would add to the Payara Platform, it would be more detailed examples of deploying Payara Micro in replicated container clusters using Docker Swarm and Kubernetes/Docker – and using all of Payara Micro’s capabilities including Hazelcast. Container clusters have very specific networking considerations surrounding DNS resolution, service discovery and proxying, which can make configuration and deployment difficult to troubleshoot and implement. Most of these difficulties are not directly related to Payara Platform itself, but rather with how container clusters deal with networking, DNS, and scaling up/down.
Payara Server already has a great production quickstart example with a lot of excellent defaults. I think the same kind of an example for a container swarm deployment would also be excellent. I think it would make it much simpler to get a fully production-scale, container-based Payara Micro cluster up and running much faster with few deployment issues.
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