Plan your move to Tomcat! For those of you in the know, Unica needs no introduction. It is one of the leading Marketing Automation technologies, currently owned by HCL but formerly of the IBM Watson Marketing stable of applications. It is an incredibly mature and sophisticated solution to all life’s marketing problems, covering selection and segmentation, digital communication delivery and personalisation, real-time next best action marketing, marketing resource management and workflows, optimisation of contacts and management of contact fatigue, to name just a few areas of functionality.
For many years of Unica’s life, the only supported Web Application Servers to host your Unica frontend were WebSphere and WebLogic. Historically, the reason for this is, when Unica was first envisaged as an independent company way back in in 1992, and Campaign ultimately launched a few years ago, the best Java web servers on the market were IBM WebSphere and Oracle WebLogic. It has to be Java incidentally for the Unica architecture. Both WebSphere and WebLogic are heavyweight applications in their own right, designed to support robust web hosting requirements at scale for purposes like eCommerce or multinational intranets. At that point, the Cloud as a credible IT proposition was a very long way away…
With the divestment of Unica from IBM to HCL and the highly anticipated launch of Version 12 of Unica early in 2020, several new options for web servers became available, in the form of Apache Tomcat and JBOSS, two very interesting lightweight open-source competitors. In fact, more than 60% of Java web services live today use Tomcat, and you might well ask yourself, could that many people be wrong?
The old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies of course, but as with any software, it all depends on what you need it for. At at least with Unica, we have a very specific idea of how it will be used. Approximately 80% of the functionality of WebSphere & WebLogic aren’t needed for Unica, making them bulky and cumbersome for the specific and relatively simple task of hosting the Unica Web Front End. The majority of the heavy lifting involved in operating Unica (e.g. flowchart running and optimisation sessions) take place on specialised back-end analytic servers rather than the web server, making simplicity the key here.
Resources skilled in monitoring, maintaining and developing both WebSphere & WebLogic can be few and far between, and expensive even when you can find them. By comparison, Tomcat and JBOSS are much more available skillsets to find resources based in, and from an operational point of view, it is highly likely that your company has other deployments of Tomcat or JBOSS, than it does in WebSphere or WebLogic, rendering IT support much easier over solutions that are more architecturally compliant.
Performance is another key factor. While you are unlikely to be in a position to test this quantitively, consider this: on like for like servers, which will run faster – a lightweight or heavyweight web application? It is also worth noting that under your HCL license, you can still use IBM WebSphere on a limited license only for Unica, but that might well not be the case forever.
In conclusion, there could well be a compelling business case in terms of performance improvements and cost savings, to consider replacing your older Unica Web Application Server technology with something a little more current and cutting edge. This table might help you identify a few of the aspects of a business case that could help you to decide if this move would be for you.
For more information on how we help our Unica client base get the most out of their Marketing Automation budgets, why not get in touch today to have a conversation with one of our specialists.
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