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System design with/without JBoss

Question asked by nonprofit_guru on Feb 21, 2006
I'm pondering what makes a logical combination of open-source technologies that allows relatively small but widely dispersed groups to collaborate with a low-threshold for new concepts and an even lower allowance for in-house development beyond basic system admin and install/startup configuration.  By new concepts, I point to some who try and use software engineering tools in a web-interface but want non-technical office/knowledge workers to grasp subversioning, etc.  It's one of the many truly "neat things" about Alfresco in my 3-4 days of fooling with it.

My description of what's needed for the real-life "business" implementation follows:
1) Single server/site that provides:
   - anonymous browsers at the outside edge
   - a mainstream CMS ala OpenStar/PostNuke, Drupal, or possibly Mambo
      – add-on features such as ATutor
   - wiki, probably MediaWiki that mirrors the anonymous as well as validated users of the mainstream CMS
2) A tightly controlled instance of Alfresco that runs inside HTTPS and includes some, but not all of the users/groups configured in #1.  The ability to setup discrete groups/users for some spaces, but not necessarily all and enforce certain workflow rules, etc. is a powerfully attractive feature.

As the pseudo-architect of this lash-up, I'm most able to integrate and/or customize the PHP aspects.  Additionally,I've been able to make Alfresco work separately (using CentOS 4.2),  but not yet in an HTTPS stream.

I'd prefer that the server be equipped with PHP5 and MySQL5, which I don't think is a problem, but I haven't tested that combination with Alfresco yet. 

Ideally, I'd like to run the whole thing on an mainstream "webhosting" arrangement, but I already know that my favorite provider won't let me run Tomcat/JBoss or Zope without going to a slice of a private virtual server if not a full box.  I expect we'll end up building our own mini-data center or buy "rackspace" at a firm that provides that sort of thing.

My sense is that with the Zend+Alfresco relationship recently announced and the pending advent of the Zend framework, I may need to consider a different approach than item #1 above, but what will be important is not clear in any sense of the word (to me at least)!  The PHP/CMS crowd doesn't seem all that amused by Zend getting into the "framework" business, but from my observation, it will soon be like the IT mantra of the mid-20th century:  Nobody got fired for buying IBM.  In the 21st century:  Few will be sorry that they followed the PHP pied-piper:  Zend.

Colleagues who are hard-core developers differ on whether Java or Zope/Python is the way to go.   If I have to choose, it will be PHP + Java, but I'm open to objective suggestions that are contrary or different (realizing that Alfresco is essentially a Java/PHP shop from what's in public view!).

Replies to this post or PMs will be greatly appreciated.

Best regards to all.

Dave Nuttall
San Antonio, Texas