Virgin TerritoryBy Baselinemag | Posted 2004-05-14 Print
Virgin Mobile USA CIO Mike Parks discusses the factors he weighed before buying an application server to connect multiple information systems, including customer relationship management software.
Virgin Mobile USA
Chief Information Officer
Walnut Creek, Calif.
Manager's Profile: Head of technology operations and strategy for the "virtual" mobile phone network operator, a joint venture of Virgin Group and Sprint, with 1.75 million subscribers.
His Project: Virgin Mobile USA uses Sprint's nationwide wireless network but handles other aspects of the service, including billing, content and text messaging. In August 2001, Parks and his team were charged with creating a data-processing infrastructure for those functionsand having it ready in less than a year. "It was a greenfield opportunity," says Parks. "But we had to move fast."
Getting a Bead on BEA: Parks wanted to use an application server to connect multiple information systems, including Siebel Systems' customer relationship management software and Telcordia Technologies' billing system. Virgin Mobile's short-list came down to BEA Systems and IBM. After reviewing both vendors, the team felt the BEA software could be deployed more quickly. "Both are quality products," says Jim Gamm, Virgin Mobile's vice president of technology. "But we felt BEA offered a very integrated solution, whereas the IBM solution was going to be an integration project within an integration project."
Aligned With Linux: The BEA software runs on eight Sun Enterprise 420 servers, but in the next few months Virgin Mobile plans to replace a few of them with Linux servers from Hewlett-Packard. BEA has helped Virgin Mobile map out the Linux move even though the vendor doesn't stand to earn any additional revenue from the project, Parks says. "BEA is taking a customer view; they're not just trying to sell more licenses."
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