This post is going to sound bias and opinionated, for that I will apologize up front and ask that you overlook that and get to the content of the question.
I am working in a RAD/RUP WebSphere shop (RAD 7, WAS6.1) and I'm finding that I'm spending a lot of time being a System Administrator for WebSphere as opposed to being a productive developer, writing J2EE applications and deploying with confidence.
I understand that IBM would like to promote a "click-and-run" environment, but I'm not finding anything (from portlets, to MDBs, to standard JSP/Struts applications) that run in this fashion. It seems that I need to know the complete ins and outs of the WebSphere platform to get anything to run.
Heaven forbid if I need to create a new application! I need to almost entirely build a new WebSphere server environment. Fortunately, I can shoehorn it into RAD so I can deploy as intended. The bottom line is this seems like a lot more work than it is worth.
Working with either JBoss (4.x) or WebLogic (8 or 9.X) was never this challenging. If I had a web application, it was drop a WAR file here and call it good. Server starts up, application is available, nice and simple. With WebSphere, it doesn't appear that simple. Deployment from RAD is a mystery. Spring makes the unsettling statement "Magic in Step 2", WebSphere/RAD would appear to be pure magic and I'm having a hard time deciphering where/why things fail. There's a lot of trial, error, try something else, and keep going until the spirits of WebSphere are satisfied that I'm finally at the end of my wits. They all have a good laugh and let me finally deploy my app, so I can test my changes.
My question is, are people really productive in this environment? How did you go from floundering because you're not an IBM certified engineer to a productive developer? If you have any resources that will somehow help this all make sense, please post them and I'll be more than happy to review. I will admit, [most likely] 80% of my problem is because I'm not that familiar with WebSphere, I'm willing to learn. I just don't remember it taking this long to come up to speed with JBoss or WebLogic.