WSO2 Governance Registry 5.2.0 released!

We have a new version of WSO2 Governance Registry!

WSO2 G-Reg 5.2.0 – this new version – is more focused on delivering a good user experience with enabling some of the features, which are there in the publisher to store users as well. Search has been improved to empower both store and publisher users.

Meet your dependencies. Visually.   

Governance Center store now comes with the ability to graphically visualize your dependencies. With this, you can easily check the impact of a change to an artifact using the dependency visualization  (dependency graph) option prior to changing the artifact. You can also filter resources based on the association type and search for artifacts based on the dependency type.

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Having to work with multiple versions of the same asset sometimes leads to chaos and users end up not knowing which version to be used to cater his/her requirement. WSO2 G-Reg 5.2.0 comes with graphical diff-view support for Governance Center Store, which allows you to inspect the changes among different version of an asset.

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Better asset searching

We’ve made some pretty important improvements to search, including providing helper text during search.

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There’s also search history, which means you can now reuse your previously used search queries – altogether a more Google experience than ever before. Privacy buffs among you will be pleased to know you can change the number of history items using the management console.  

Asset loading/ listing has never been this fast

We’re continuously working on making our products work faster. In G-Reg 5.2.0, we’ve have a major performance gain in both Store and Publisher applications. Loading of landing pages and asset listing pages are now been significantly improved.   

greg - 3WSO2 Governance Registry is perhaps the best open source product for storing, cataloging, indexing, managing and governing your enterprise metadata. But don’t just take our word for it – you can download it from here and try it out for yourself. To learn more about the product and its use cases, check out our product documentation.

New WSO2 IoT Server Beta Program – limited time to register

We’ve been helping many enterprises adopt to the Internet of Things (IoT) for a couple of years now. If you read our white paper on a reference architecture for IoT, you can see how our enterprise middleware platform includes all the capabilities required for any enterprise IoT project.

Late last year at WSO2Con US, we pre-announced a product; WSO2 IoT Server, for implementing an IoT architecture, including the management of IoT devices, APIs and applications.

Today we are happy to announce a beta program where participants will have early access to preview WSO2 IoT Server, prior to the official product launch coming up soon.

WSO2 IoT Server is the core of our IoT platform. It provides managed access to devices, exposes devices as APIs, and visualizes live data streams. With its customizable capabilities WSO2 IoT Server can also perform analytics on data from the devices. The modular, extensible architecture, has all you need to get an early start on implementing an innovative IoT solution in your enterprise.

If you’re an architect in a device manufacturing company who wants to integrate devices with a scalable IoT architecture that enables innovative IoT solutions, or an enterprise device owner who’s looking to enroll and manage IoT devices, this would be the ideal program for you.

The beta program will give selected registrants the opportunity to connect directly with WSO2 platform experts who will guide you through the installation, extension and configuration process of the WSO2 IoT Server. Additionally, a select group of qualified beta program members will receive free proof of concept (POC) support and benefits (subject to terms and conditions), as well as ongoing support from a dedicated account manager.

With the number of internet-connected devices rapidly increasing and estimated to reach 50 billion by 20201, you don’t want to miss out on tapping into the limitless possibilities of IoT.

So join us now, and get ahead with your next IoT project. For more information on the perks of being a part of this beta program see here. Deadline to register is May 6, 2016.

1http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac79/docs/innov/IoT_IBSG_0411FINAL.pdf

Everything you need to know about architecture patterns: a quick reference for Solution Architects  

The success of a solutions architect depends on the approach taken from the beginning. The role can be challenging with the need to carefully balance the organization’s business as well as technical requirements. That’s why we had a dedicated track on architecture patterns at WSO2Con Asia 2016 held earlier this year  in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to help SAs understand today’s best practices and how they can deliver value more quickly. If you missed out, here’s a recap of the patterns we discussed with the link to recordings of each talk.

Iterative Architecture: Your Path to On-Time Delivery

Agility is key for enterprises to optimize business functions, introduce new business capabilities, and explore new markets. Thus, enterprise software systems should support both evolutionary as well as revolutionary changes that will impact core business functions.

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WSO2’s VP – Solutions Architecture, Asanka Abeysinghe, discussed the advantages of adopting an iterative approach when introducing architectural changes to support business and technical requirements. He demonstrates this with real-world examples of successful implementation of architectures in iterations. 

Breaking Down Silos with Service Oriented Architecture

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) has outrun the notion of systems silos with its use of standard protocols and specifications at integration points, which allows systems to communicate with each other in a much more flexible manner. Nadeesha Gamage, associate lead – solutions engineering at WSO2, explained the drawbacks of having a siloed architecture and how they can be avoided by moving to SOA, thereby enabling greater agility. He discussed how SOA can be broken down further to a finer-grained microservice architecture and, as a result, how an enterprise can benefit using the WSO2 suite of products. 

Event Driven Architecture: Managing Business Dynamics for Adaptive Enterprise

SOA implements a synchronous request-response model to connect remote processes in distributed system; it creates an inherent rigidity and additional dependencies when applied in modelling business processes and workflows. In contrast, event driven architecture (EDA) is based on an asynchronous message-driven communication model to propagate information throughout an enterprise, thus supporting a more natural alignment with an enterprise’s operational model and processes/workflows. In this session, Solutions Architect at WSO2, Dassana Wijesekera, analyzes key business challenges that encourage the use of EDA and discusses a pragmatic approach of designing and implementing an EDA using the WSO2 integration framework.

Moulding Your Enterprise with Resource-Oriented Architecture

An enterprise environment is typically heterogeneous, often spanning across organizational boundaries. Building such systems require tools that promote intrinsic interoperability and provide ease of integrating over boundaries. It also needs to use technology that promotes simplicity and is easy to handle. Resource-oriented architecture (ROA) supports this by focusing on entities and interactions for effective enterprise integration. Shiroshika Kulatilake, solutions architect at WSO2, explained the idea behind having a ROA in your organization, both externally and internally and also talked about how WSO2 technology can help you built your enterprise system in a resource oriented manner. 

Building Web Apps Using Web-Oriented Architecture

Web-oriented architecture (WOA) or SOA + WWW + REST  takes you several steps further by filling the blanks of SOA and helping you build an end-to-end complete web application. In addition to APIs, WOA identifies user interfaces and application states as first-class components of an architecture. Most of what we build today is actually WOA, though the abbreviation might not be that popular.

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Lead Solutions Engineer at WSO2, Dakshitha Ratnayake, discussed the changes to WOA over the years, today’s trends, and how you can leverage WOA to build web apps. 

Reinforcing Your Enterprise With Security Architectures

WSO2’s VP – Engineering, Selvaratnam Uthaiyashankar presented an informative session on

leveraging the extensive feature set and extensible nature of the WSO2 platform to provide a robust security architecture for your enterprise. He also explained some of WSO2’s experiences with customers in building a security architecture and thereby extracting commonly used security architecture patterns.

Understanding Microservice Architecture

Today many organizations are leveraging microservice architecture (MSA), which is becoming increasingly popular because of its many potential advantages. MSA itself is divided into two areas – inner and outer architectures –  which require separate attention. Moreover, MSA requires a certain level of developer and devops experience too. Sagara Gunathunge, architect at WSO2, presented an awareness session about MSA and also discussed WSO2’s strategic initiatives in both the platform level and WSO2 MSF4J framework level. 

Deployment Patterns and Capacity Planning

Identifying the right deployment architecture is key when providing smooth operation of a production system. In the next step, it’s crucial to determine the size of the deployment by understanding the number of servers/VMs/containers necessary to support the minimum, average and possible maximum load that the system is expected to handle. Solutions Engineer at WSO, Chathura Kulasinghe, in this talk focused on how you could take a fact based approach to determine the size of your deployment. 

Pattern-Driven Enterprise Architecture: Applying Patterns in Your Architecture

It’s no secret that architectural patterns help you build beautiful enterprise architecture. High-level patterns such as SOA, ROA, EDA, MSA and WOA provide many best practices for enterprise architects who are looking to evolve their existing enterprise architecture or for those creating newer enterprise architecture strategies. Mifan Careem, director – solutions architecture at WSO2, analyzed the good, the bad and the ugly (if any) of the various architectural patterns in his talk. He discussed practical examples of the patterns in practice and also went on to build a solution architecture from scratch using WSO2 components with the help of patterns. 

Still interested in meeting the experts and discussing these topics and more? Sign up now for WSO2Con EU, which will be held in London from June 7 to 9. Be sure to grab the early bird offer before May 8.

 

Introducing WSO2 Gateway Framework – A Slight Change in Course Post Alpha Release

In November 2015, we announced a high performance, lightweight, and configuration-driven message gateway – WSO2 Gateway – based on standard gateway patterns. We made available an Alpha version with a plan to announce general availability this year. This product provides fully decoupled protocol handling layers and message processing layers, making it easier for users to configure messaging behavior at each layer independently.

A few months later, and as we progressed with our GA release plan, we realized there was a broader need and changed our strategy to instead use this component as a framework for all WSO2 integration-based products: the gateway framework will become the core of other gateways, such as the API gateway of our API management offering, and power the next generation of our enterprise service bus.
The original gateway code is still accessible on GitHub.

WSO2Con Insights: How NYU used WSO2 to become a more agile organization

New York University is one of the largest private American non-profits for higher education; it’s long since expanded beyond New York, and now spans more than twenty schools, colleges, and institutes – including 12 major branches across the world. They’ve produced thirty-six Nobel Prize Winners and the most Oscar winners of any university in existence. It’s safe to say that’s it’s a pretty big organization.

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Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village – the original home of NYU

Underneath all of the education and the alumni achievements lies a deeper, more technical problem. This level of largesse means enormous amounts of data and rather complex services required to keep everything together. Peter Morales, PhD, leads NYU’s Educational Technology Innovation efforts. Speaking at WSO2Con USA 2015, he described his task: to find out how to move away from their New York-centric data center model.

The solution? WSO2’s Enterprise Service Bus.

Swapping out the engines

NYU has a lot of existing processes. The key word there is existing. To innovate, they would have to avoid touching everything else and breaking it.

This wasn’t just code, but people. Bringing in an ESB wasn’t simply bringing in technology. “You have lots of layers and lots of roles and people who are going to be affected, and you really have to be mindful about that, or the whole strategy unwinds,” explains Peter, who likens this to changing the engines of an airplane while the airplane is in flight.”

The task of implementing the ESB wasn’t simply a technological addition: it was a way of bringing in organizational change. Peter outlined several ‘Agility Accelerators’: agile processes, lean investments, cloud services, unified architecture – things that make it easier for NYU to move forward.

WSO2 comes in on a technical level. NYU uses WSO2 to decouple services at three levels – at the UI level, at the middleware level and at the data level. “If you don’t decouple it at those three layers, you’re always going to end up with some degree of coupling that’s going to impede your ability to change,” said Peter.

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The decoupling gives them the ability to build a model where existing systems can interoperate with newer services. This, in turn, solves the original problem: they can now add and extend functionality without disrupting the old code, rolling out incremental improvements in a way they simply could not do before.

The bus in the cloud

At the heart of this implementation lies what Peter calls an “ESB in the cloud”: an architecture that runs on Amazon web servers and allows them to build applications. These applications function as cohesive units, but are actually comprised of lots of swappable services running in the background – services that range from anything from identity to ones that detect and write captions for videos. Various WSO2 ESB clusters host these services, which are then delivered through Amazon CloudFront.

This, as it turns out, is a powerful combination that allows them to run everything at low latencies. It also gives them some interesting capabilities: the ability to orchestrate functionality, and the ability to roll forward services and roll them back in real time.

One of the biggest hurdles they encountered, says Peter, was adding a process for innovating – especially when it comes to introducing new technologies. There were a lot of misconceptions about what was needed.

“A lot of us, coming out of the financial services world,  had been involved in enterprise service bus implementations which traditionally were kinda heavy – the TIBCOs, the Jbosses – this is where WSO2 is very different,” he says. “And the other argument we heard was ‘why not to microservices, without an ESB’? And the big one is ‘Is this services bus going to become another point of failure?’ We have a lot of software that needs to run 100% uptime, all the time.”

It’s safe to say that WSO2’s lightweight, high performance ESB overcame all those concerns, because NYU now runs the WSO2 ESB without a hitch. And now, says Peter, they’re looking at building an enterprise service fabric – multiple instances of an ESB on the background, synchronizing data in such a way that you get the same data regardless of where you are in the world or what your latency is supposed to be.

That’s a lot of boundaries to push – organizational, technical, you name it. But whatever NYU does, we’re proud to be there, pushing those boundaries with them.

For more information on how NYU jump-started middleware services, watch Peter’s presentation at WSO2con US 2015.

WSO2Con Insights: Why West Interactive built an app-based cloud platform with WSO2

West Corporation is a spider in a web. Andrew Bird, Senior Vice President at West, speaking at WSO2Con USA 2015, described it as a 2.5-billion dollar giant situated right at the heart of America’s telecommunications. Close to a third of the world’s conference calls run through the West network. To give you some perspective, Google+ and Cisco run calls on West networks – as does the 911 call system.

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According to Andrew (who runs product management, development and innovation there) depending on where you are in America, 60% of the time, any call you place would go through the West network.

However, networks aren’t all that West does. West has a division called West Interactive Services which builds IVR systems for customers that need complex customer interaction networks. Here’s what Andrew had to say about how West Interactive used integrated, modular WSO2 middleware to drastically speed the delivery of service and enhance these systems – for both the customers and for themselves.

The challenge: customer interaction

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IVR systems involve providing customer interaction platforms, application design services, multi-channel communication systems, and often goes beyond building solutions for Fortune 100 companies. The services involved are often complex –  context identification, notifications, chat, call, data collection, routing, message delivery, provisioning, identity – and the ability to communicate across Web, IVR, mobile and social platforms.

To represent its work, Andrew played a demo where a customer dials into a call center from an iPhone. The automated system on the other end recognized the customer, recognizes that fact that he is on a mobile device and addresses him by name. It then proceeds to interact with the customer via text and speech – all of this without needing an app.

Context is key here: Andrew Bird – and West – believes that customers should not have to repeatedly tell systems who they are. They should not have to waste time identifying themselves, their devices and the context in which they’re calling. Systems should be able to figure out that Mr Smith is calling from such and such a location and that’s probably because of this reason. West’s systems are designed to understand this kind of context, and they’re very good at it.

The solution: a middleware platform for West

But of course, building is not enough: scaling these kinds of systems is the challenge.

At some point, West apparently realized that while they were the best at scale, running “a couple of complex event processing engines, a couple of business rules managing engines, a couple of databases” – was neither sustainable nor particularly supportable. For one customer, for instance, they were managing 43 APIs, all of which were completely different. They needed everything on common standards, able to work with each other instead of in little silos of their own.

West’s solution was to build cloud-enabled middleware platform that sits between West’s proprietary services and the applications running across different channels. West’s managed services are exposed through the platform via APIs.

This is where WSO2 came in. The WSO2 ESB serves as the SOA backbone, providing mediation and transformation between West’s different applications; WSO2 Governance Registry provides run-time SOA governance, and WSO2 Analytics platform monitors SOA metrics.

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Other, more specific functionality is provided by the likes of WSO2 Complex Event Processor, Application Server, Data Services Server and Machine Learner. The multi-channel access services  – those that face the world – rely on WSO2 Identity Server and WSO2 API Manager, providing a way to expose APIs to internal or external applications that may integrate with the platform.

Context is everything

For West to rely on WSO2 for the backbone of their middleware platform is, for us, an indicator of the amount of faith they have in our products. West, after all, is a company that supports some of the biggest organizations in the world. They cannot afford to fail.

But perhaps the best statement was Andrew’s recollection of how much their customers trust WSO2. “I was once meeting with a customer, talking about our vision,” he says, “and they were like ‘so what are you using for an ESB?’ I said, “WSO2”. No more questions. Done. They were using the same thing as well. I needed something like that – something where if I go talk to a customer who I’m trying to take care of, I don’t need to spend my time justifying myself.”

If you’re interested in knowing more, check out Andrew’s complete keynote talk at WSO2Con USA here. For more details on the deployment, read our case study on West Interactive here.

 

The Microservices Discussion: Didn’t We Do This Before?

Microservices is a trending term right now. The enterprise programmers’ corner of the Internet seems to be stuffed to the brim with talk of microservices – Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure, even wrote a blogpost calling it a revolution.  Chris Hart of Ramses.tech wrote at length about it, linking it to the Unix philosophy.  By all accounts, microservices seem to be changing the world…

Or are they? On the 24th of March, we (WSO2) hosted a meetup in Colombo, based on Microservices. In it, Kasun Indrasiri and Afkham Azeez tackled what we think is a pressing question: what are microservices, and how are they different from what we’re already doing?

By now, everyone knows what the monolith is – the dreaded single-unit architecture that ends up becoming a nightmare to deploy, build on and scale. It is self-contained and is, in essence, a silo unto itself.

Enter microservices: the philosophy that a single application should be composed of multiple fine-grained, loosely coupled services that are built and deployed independently of each other.

Kasun explored this concept in minute detail in an earlier blogpost, pointing out that microservices need to follow the Single Responsibility Principle: each microservice handles a limited and focused business operation, and as such should have very few operations and a simple message format. That’s so you don’t end up just building miniature monoliths. Harries Blog contains a diagram that illustrates this well:  

However, in all of this, the software industry seems to be forgetting that such a development style has already existed for a while now. Some time ago one of the hottest buzzwords was Service Oriented Architecture, or SOA: essentially, unassociated, self-contained units of functionality communicating with each other to get a job done, usually with some kind of interface in between.

Sounds familiar?

While the definitions of microservices seem less vague, Microservices, Kasun pointed out, is actually little more than SOA done right.  Indeed, as Azeez noted, the software industry likes to reinvent old things by slapping a new name onto them.  It’s not a new paradigm, and nor is it a panacea; there are instances where it’s not the most optimal route to take.

It’s possible that ‘microservices’ started trending because we now have better and easier tools for facilitating this kind of development. Docker and Kubernetes have practically hammered in these basic concepts into a lot of developers’ heads. All it needed was a name.  For a more nuanced understanding of microservices, read “Scope Versus Size: a Pragmatic Approach to Microservices Architecture” by Asankan Abeysinghe, VP of Solutions Architecture at WSO2.

Either way, here’s a toast to microservices – for keeping the spirit of SOA alive and kicking. .

 

Deep Huge: AI Predicts Donald Trump Becoming the Next President

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Predicting the Presidential Election is practically a national sport. However, traditional predictors – especially the talkshow hosts on Fox News – have historically been terrible at calling the next set of numbers. It took Nate Silver’s exceptional statistical skill to show us that with public data, you could accurately predict the election down to the last winning percentage – if the mind doing the calculations was good enough.

Artificial Intelligence has evolved exponentially over the years. We’ve gone from Deep Blue beating Gary Kasparov to DeepMind mastering Go. A Japanese Ai just wrote a novel that almost won a literary prize. We may not have another Nate Silver, but the world is in a position to create his machine analogue.

Which is why we at WSO2 have constructed a system designed for the sole purpose of election math. While Google and Microsoft have been happy to use their gifts to play board games and embarrass themselves on Twitter, ours, powered by WSO2 Machine Learner, has been set the task of picking the next POTUS.

Deep Huge, as we’ve called the system (a nod to Deep Blue) predicts that Donald Trump will almost certainly win. That is, if he picks the former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as his Vice President. 

To state it in numbers: there is a 52.3% chance that Donald Trump will win by himself, regardless of his choice of VP; with Schwarzenegger, there is a 99.4% chance that Trump will defeat all others and become the next POTUS.

How it works

Like Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight itself, Deep Huge’s predictions are probabilistic. We use poll data from the Associated Press, historical records. earlier elections, news articles, secret NSA surveys and Twitter for exploring sentiment and secondary issue mapping. This data is then fed into WSO2 Machine Learner, which computes the prediction model. 

Since sources other than polls are not representative, we have paid more attention to trends rather than absolute numbers, and extrapolate the poll predictions while using other sources as calibrations.  The current model analyzes the win probability of presidential candidates and then runs this against an array of potential vice presidents.

At the start of the elections, the probability matrix was far too diffuse for any prediction to be useful. However, as the candidates dropped out and campaign tactics solidified, the predictions become more accurate. Deep Huge has successfully modeled the key pitfalls such as shifts of public opinion and the problems with running your own email server.

Every model shows that the choice of a VP is critical, as the second most powerful player in the game brings their own voterbase with them. 

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In this case, the former Terminator not only solidifies Trump’s position in California, but Schwarzenegger offsets concerns—particularly among men—about Trump’s small hands.

The two men also share strong similarities, including a desire for closing the Mexican border. Schwarzenegger also has a track record of what one might consider Trump-like, politically incorrect statements, such as in 2007, where he urged Hispanic journalists to “Turn off the Spanish television set” and “Learn English”.

Other potential Republican VP candidates provided small gains or even losses to Trump’s odds of winning the 2016 US presidential election. Notably the probability of Trump winning the general election was 53.4% with US Senator Ted Cruz, 46.2% with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and 65.1% with Fox journalist Megyn Kelly.

According to the latest research, in today’s connected world there are just three and a half degrees of separation between an also-ran and America’s next president,” said Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana, WSO2 founder, CEO and chief architect. “Our Deep Huge project demonstrates the power of combining streaming, batch and predictive analytics to take a pulse on American voters’ sentiments and provide insights into the winning combination of presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2016.”

Deriving secondary insights

We noted while digging into the model that, in the GOP, the divide between campaign position in terms of key issues between Trump and Cruz is semantically closer, while in the Democratic party, the semantic divide is much larger. This makes it harder for the party to rally the voters who are divided in primaries. Further analysis revealed that divide proved to be a major turning point in earlier election outcomes.

To train itself to this level of accuracy, Deep Huge has to date run 11,302 simulations on available prediction data from the previous years, comparing it against the actual results to dynamically build a prediction model using Random Forest Regression.

While it may bear some passing resemblance to 538’s model, it has not been taught the concepts of weighted polling averages and state fundamentals. Its prediction model has been learned and built by the neural network itself, using features from social media sentiment, news articles, poll numbers in terms of campaign issues, and to compute a constantly evolving prediction model.

In Conclusion

In the process of building Deep Huge, we’ve gained valuable insight to the uncertainty inherent to elections. While we’re thrilled to have created the machine analogue of Nate Silver, we hope that one day we will be able to scale Deep Huge to predict any election throughout the globe – one bot to predict them all.

We’re also heartened by the fact that after hearing of this prediction, Donald Trump has reversed his stance on outsourcing and decided to have his campaign planning computed by WSO2 Machine Learner running in Sri Lanka.

And by the way… April Fool.

Deep Huge isn’t real, but WSO2 does keep an eye on politics via our Election Monitor project. This offers a real-time window on the US Election unfolding across Twitter and across mainstream media – mapping influence, sentiment, popular opinion and so much more.  Visit wso2.com/election2016/.