Category Archives: Customers

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.

 

WSO2Con Insights: How WSO2’s Open Source API Management Platform is Enabling BNY Mellon’s Digital Transformation

Let’s talk numbers. Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) runs a set of systems that track up to USD 30 trillion worth of wealth globally through investment management, investment services and wealth management. That’s about a quarter of all the world’s wealth of private assets, assets under management and assets under custody and/or administration.

When it comes to technology numbers, BNY Mellon operates a private cloud out of their own data centers, and has about 900 projects going on at any moment in time, run and managed smoothly by a 13,000 strong team.

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Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.

During his talk at WSO2Con USA 2015, Michael Gardner, managing director and Head of the BNY Mellon Innovation Center explained how these numbers converged into creating the NEXEN digital ecosystem powered by WSO2’s API management platform, to transform the financial services industry.

The path of the open source code

Software driven disruption is impacting every company in every industry, Gardner noted, and the only way to survive is to keep moving in the same velocity, ability and agility as technology itself. Companies have evolved from mere ecommerce-related online retailers to managing entire customer relationships, to complete supply chain management and today, to digitized business operations. Such a company, according research firm Gartner, is defined as a ‘digital enterprise’.

Gardner noted that it’s critical for BNY Mellon to be a digital enterprise, to have the ability to accept new technologies and adapt, pushing very hard on it’s digital transformation and doing so by converging various technologies. He then went on to express why open source is now the center of their focus in this transformation.

“Open Source is very very important to us,” Gardner said. “We believe that open source is the future of enterprise collaboration. It’s not because it’s free. That’s great… but it (open source) becomes the basis for enterprises to collaborate together to evolve software mutually in ways that they need.”

The NEXEN digital ecosystem

BNY Mellon is bringing a collection of progressive software projects and technologies together, with an API program that enables the digital transformation of the organization to occur as an ecosystem.

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“This transformation takes technology, it takes process and people, all these things working together,” Gardner comments. “It’s not easy to do this. If you are not driving that people part of it and the business process part of it, you are not going to accomplish the digital transformation.”

This convergence, Gardner said, was what finally lead BNY Mellon to create what is called the digital ecosystem of NEXEN. It involves BNY Mellon employees, covering both technology and business areas, customers as well as partner collaborators, including WSO2.

APIs – the critical link within the ecosystem

WSO2’s API management solution was chosen for the NEXEN ecosystem’s API program. “We selected WSO2 not just for the reason that it was open source. It gave us the chance to be able to actually work with the code, and understand the behavior of the system.”

How important are APIs for this digital transformation?

To keep the BNY Mellon cloud as modern as possible, the team constantly refactors backend systems. For this, smaller teams need to be empowered to carry out a given functionality.

“So APIs become really critical in being able to implement the most modern microservices based platform and architecture that we can,” Gardner noted. His team needs to ensure that whatever generation of technology a service is architected upon, that there is a modern REST API that’s available not only to interact with software systems, but to also allow people to consume these services.

“The microservices and architecture end up being the enabler of the digital transformation,” Gardner said. “If you’re going to be able to have the business move quickly, and adapt to new technology – you have to have APIs as the enabling lifeblood of it.”

Developer productivity too, according to Gardner was fundamental in achieving digital transformation. With 13000 people in technology at BNY Mellon, he explained how important it was to enable them to move at the same velocity as the technology itself, with modern API capabilities.

“At the end of the day what we are doing via the NEXEN program and the API Program is we are building a digital ecosystem that allows collaborations, and allows us to operate as a digital enterprise where every aspect of our business is digital.”

For more detailed information on BNY Mellon’s NEXEN API program, view Gardner’s WSO2Con USA 2015 presentation.

To understand more about BNY Mellon, check out ‘A History of BNY Mellon’ on Youtube.

WSO2 Insights: iJET builds an end-to-end microservice architecture with WSO2 middleware

For the past 10 years, iJET International has delivered intelligence-driven integrated riskiJET_logo management solutions by assessing an organization’s exposure to risk and threat. To empower these multinational organizations, iJET collects intelligence on a global scale, about health, natural disasters, geopolitical and civil unrest, capturing data in a manner that is machine processable to deliver response solutions.

During his session at WSO2Con USA 2015, David Clark, director of IT architecture at iJET labs, the innovation center at iJET International,  explained how the organization moved from a rigid legacy system to a microservice architecture, with an identity management solution powered by WSO2 middleware.

Satiating the demand for sensitive data security

The biggest challenge Clark was faced with when he joined iJET in 2015 was identity management. With many of iJET’s customers already having identity management solutions in place, Clark recalled the increased demand for federated Single Sign-on (SSO) across the board. Customers had a need for more security protocol options, specifically SAML 2.0 and OAuth 2.0. There was also a need to provide them with user self-provisioning through the secure use of third party systems, as well as multifactor authentication, he noted.

An additional challenge was iJET’s legacy architecture. It was not agile, not scalable, and had limited revenue opportunities. What possibly began as a clean three-tier application had over the years snowballed into a mammoth, rigid system that could not pivot with the business anymore. “What this means is we really couldn’t monetize our main asset, which is our intelligence”, Clark said. It was time to move on to a more Service Oriented approach.

Open source, open standards

WSO2 middleware was the best fit for iJET’s Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). “Being open source aligns with iJET’s values”, Clark noted. “We wanted to take ownership of the products and deploy it the way we wanted to, and WSO2 allows us to do that. Being open source, it’s extensible.”

iJET also utilized WSO2’s Quick Start Program (QSP) from the initial stages of the project. DavidClark01 “The QSP ensures that you get off on the right foot,” Clark observed. “Their engineers come in, understand what your business problem is, and ensure that you get the right architecture, and start in the right direction.”

Clark explained the implementation of the WSO2 products to the audience, starting off with federated SSO using WSO2 Identity Server. The product supported configurable authenticators for federation, and just-in-time user provisioning was added, where the incoming claims could be mapped to local schema. This worked in conjunction with the iJET customer user store manager, Clark explained, which was implemented as an OSGI bundle.

Integration of the legacy applications followed. With the iJET applications already configured to use another SSO, Clark explained the use of Apache Mellon to bridge the SAML negotiation and provide a façade between the old and new systems, generating session cookies with the same key value peers the old system was using.

Optimizing iJET’s microservices

The integration of WSO2 API Manager with WSO2 Identity Aerver, Clark continued, was carried out via an OAuth key manager and Java Web token. The core focus then shifted to optimizing iJET’s microservices. WSO2 API Manager is used to prototype, version and publish APIs provided by microservices. But most importantly, Clark observed, API Manager was used to govern the access and provide security to APIs.

A hexagonal architecture was used for the microservices, with business logic at the core.   Inbound controllers and adapters surrounding the core helped expose the REST API that the user applications would access through the API Manager. The outbound repositories helped the service to communicate with the database.

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Clark also explained that iJET follows a template driven development process to create microservices. Not yet at the point of using Docker containers, Clark stated that each microservice gets deployed on an Amazon EC2 instance.

Six months to successful deployment

“Six months later, we have our federated SSO working”, Clark noted. “We were able to deploy a new application built entirely on REST APIs and these are now available for our customers to consume as well.” The legacy applications too are able to authenticate with third party identity providers, with extremely satisfied iJET customers using their own solutions.

For more information on iJET’s microservice architecture use case, view Clark’s WSO2Con USA 2015 presentation.

WSO2Con Insights: Experian Uses WSO2 to Uncover Credit Intelligence

Some call Experian a credit score checking service, but that would perhaps be an injustice: this company, which now counts some 17,000 people among its employees, is the credit experianinformation company. So deeply ingrained are they that in certain countries, it’s common to be told “Go talk to Experian” when you have a problem with your credit. Nor does it stop there. Experian’s products have long since expanded beyond credit and into everything from financial education to digital user analytics: it’s now a business with revenues in the billions of dollars.

Experian has a very interesting set of needs. Day in and day out, customers arrive at Experian looking not only for credit reports, but for financial advice. Experian, analyzing their spending patterns and the ripple effects of those, is in a position to tell customers what to buy, what cards to keep, how to handle their bank accounts and loans, and a myriad of other details. In his talk at WSO2Con EU 2015 Rafael Garcia-Navarro, Head of Analytics at Experian explained how shifting from huge volume/low speed batch data processing to small volume/high speed data execution, helped them get their big data into shape.

The problem of real-time

Given the nature of what they do, Experian needs a lot of intelligence and data analysis power. In the world of credit intelligence, everything is linked – from where a user votes to the loans they’ve taken to the smartphone plan that he or she is on. In the past, they would process vast amounts of data offline and use that to make analyses.

To this, Experian added a requirement: real-time operation – defined by them as systems that could take data from marketing channels, process and react with the required information under the average human reaction time of 200 milliseconds.

More specifically, they needed systems that detect patterns at very high speeds, passing data in such a way that as to enable the full machinery to deliver complete results in under 200 milliseconds.

This is where the WSO2 Complex Event Processor comes into the picture. Experian were working with some serious names in data analytics – like Google – and they began using the WSO2 CEP to analyze the customer data in real-time.

Experian Architecture

The first step, is taking log files from digital platforms at the user level – cookies, if you will – to develop batch prediction models which help them decide what to promote to different users. The next step was to move out of purely historical data. Experian developed a Java application that simulates Google data; this data streams into WSO2 CEP.

“What happens there is Siddhi is running the queries to identify the events that are relevant for further analysis, and driving that in into a Java-based platform,” said Garcia-Navarro “We take the latest events that we’ve identified from the streaming application, and we take those events to re-run the score with the latest information that is available to users, and re-optimizing that with MarketSwitch.”

The system would constantly re-examine their data, updating it and fine-tuning it with the latest information, and drive the final, optimised decision back for execution on the marketing platforms. The challenge? In order to keep the whole system’s operation under 200 milliseconds, this particular sub-system had to do all of this at a mere 50 milliseconds. That’s a staggeringly small amount of time.

After a pause, he added, “This 50 milliseconds has now been brought down to between 3 and 5 milliseconds.”

From code to credit

WSO2’s involvement began, ironically, not in the field of marketing analytics, but with analyzing credit risk. Experian had a product (now called PowerCurve) traditionally built for mainframes in the credit risk space; it allowed credit risk analysts to design business rules visually. They wanted to use this along with MarketSwitch to examine a user’s propensity to buy something.

Marketswitch

After the initial QuickStart program, Experian’s internal integrator – they have a team set aside for this – took it to the rest of the company. Even within Experian’s ocean of established technology stacks and software, the WSO2 CEP made a splash big enough to be a critical product. The first implementation connected to WSO2 CEP through WSO2 ESB. Later iterations directly connected to the Siddi processing engine.

Experian likes the way WSO2 has worked for them on this.

“We explored all the typical suspects,” said Garcia-Navarro. “The CEP world is well known, and CEP for high-frequency trading had been in use for years. We explored all those commercial providers, but we chose WSO2 for three key reasons:

The first is because it’s open source. We believe that whenever possible we need to start embracing open source much more widely in business.

The second one is the depth of knowledge of the support provided. WSO2 takes a lot of pride in their support model; they claim – rightly – that they don’t have pre-engineers, but engineers who work on on the product providing the support needed for clients. And when you start working with them you see the depth of skills and expertise that they have. That’s a big plus for us.

The final one is the depth of offerings. CEP we’ve built the prototype for and implemented in house in our data centers and infrastructure. We’re starting to look into many aspects – the next one we’re looking into is ESB, but not the only one. “

Right now, Experian is pushing Complex Event Processor to the limits. Because of the nature of their business, they’re heavily interested in the next steps that we take with CEP and some of the new things we’re working on in the data and analytics space.

For more information on Experian’s work with WSO2, view Rafael’s presentation at WSO2Con EU 2015.

WSO2Con Insights: Transforming the Ordnance Survey with WSO2’s Open Source Enterprise Middleware Platform

The British Ordnance Survey officially began in 1791.  Unofficially, it began some years before,OD logo when King George II commissioned a military survey of the Scottish Highlands. The work never really stopped. Today, over two hundred years later, Ordnance Survey Ltd is Great Britain’s national mapping agency: a 100% publicly owned, government-run company that’s one of the world’s largest producers of maps. They’re in the Guiness Book for the largest Minecraft map ever made – an 83-billion block behemoth that boggles map-makers around the globe.

Over the centuries, Ordnance Survey produced and sold some of the finest paper maps in the business. However they soon had a problem: people didn’t buy maps anymore. People downloaded maps. People accessed maps on a website. They just weren’t huge fans of the print and CD maps that the Ordnance Survey produced day in and day out.

The fault in our maps

Of course, the OS had to evolve. To solve the problem, they realized they had to move beyond retail and into selling data maps. The OS has a database called MasterMap, which is possibly the largest geospatial database in the world; it contains maps accurate to a single centimeter, updated some 10,000 times a day, underpinning some £100 billion worth of business activity in the UK alone. The OS wanted to make this database accessible. They needed a way to sell this data over the Internet; they wanted delivery mechanisms and a strategy. os-maps-devices-banner_1

The OS had been introducing technology to the map-making process since the 70’s, but this challenge was different. Their maps had to be supremely accessible – web pages, mobile phones, even someone on the highway looking for the next gas station, should all have to be able to access Ordnance Survey data without a fuss. They needed a system that understood context – the user on the smartphone might be using an official OS app for it; the user on the highway might be using something installed by the manufacturer or dealer who sold them the car; all of them would have to be treated and billed accordingly.

To do all this, they needed a robust API management solution that could recognize context, run the request into a system and deliver an output very, very fast.

Which is where WSO2 came in.

The wheels in motion

Initially, the OS worked with WSO2’s competition – Apigee. Apigee had a good APIM system, but they weren’t as good as the WSO2 platform in connecting to everything else. The initial QuickStart program proved WSO2 could do everything they wanted: within just two weeks, the OS had a POC system on their hands using WSO2 Complex Event Processor, WSO2 Identity Server, WSO2 API Manager and WSO2 Business Analytics Monitor, connected to Magento, which the OS was using.

WSO2’s comprehensive platform made everything significantly easier for the Ordnance Survey. Since the products integrated perfectly with each other, they no longer needed to look at many different vendors for everything they needed.

“When evaluating the vendors, we were looking for flexibility, we were looking for a willingness to get involved, to share information – to be on our side, I guess – and we were looking for a rich resource. Not a single product vendor with a range of products that would meet our needs,” said Hillary Corney, of the Ordnance Survey at WSO2Con Eu 2015.

The Ordnance Survey also liked the fact that WSO2 provided open-source without a premium price. Because Magento was also open source, and they had complete access to the code of the WSO2 solution, the OS team could very tightly integrate the two via SAML and SCIM.

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“WSO2 is an open source platform, which allowed us to experiment early and learn in-depth without going through a complex procurement process, because in the government we have to go adhere to the EU tender process. And it’s a rich suite of products, which gave us confidence and allowed us to meet whatever circumstance we came up against,” added Corney. “The value add is really the speed of development; the fact that it’s open-source allows us to integrate, to customize it and bend the source code to our requirements in a way that’s not possible with straightforward off-the-shelf software. So I think that’s the biggest value for us – the flexibility.”

Ordnance – and the fact that it’s public sector – brought with it its own set of insights for WSO2 – especially in how public institutions work and the moving parts involved. As the engineers at WSO2 got used to these processes, we developed ways to get the project rolling without inflating the price, and WSO2 delivered exactly as promised. The Ordnance Survey is now working on not one, but two API delivery production environments with WSO2 software.

“The WSO2 team were embedded in our trenches, and the overall impression was that they really knew their stuff. It was one of the fastest proof of concept builds we’ve ever had; at the end of two weeks we were able to demonstrate almost everything – from start to finish.”

For further information on Ordnance Survey’s open source journey see Hillary Corney’s presentation slides at WSO2Con EU 2015.

Slides Ordnance Survey

WSO2Con Insights: How Government of Moldova efficiently digitized public services

Iurie Turcanu, the executive director of the eGovernment Center in Moldova, describes his country as “small but ambitious”. Indeed, few would suspect that Moldova, which officially declared itself a republic after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, would be one of the few nations in the world to leap headfirst into e-Government.

“Two years ago our government set a primary objective for our nation – to digitize all publicMoldova services. That was a real challenge, because we have to do this fast and with relatively small budgets.” said Turcanu at WSO2Con EU 2015, where he and Artur Reaboi, an enterprise architect at the e-Government Center of Moldova, explained how they implemented this national interoperability platform, which streamlines public services delivery, both for citizens and businesses, as well as optimizing internal governmental business processes.

Apparently unfazed, they began to build a platform with the help of the WSO2 middleware platform.

The Foundation for e-Transformation 

The government as a platform, or, as the World Bank puts it, the “Governance eTransformation Project” was undertaken by Turcanu and his team at the e-Government Center of Moldova, under the purview of the State Chancellory. Of course, they hit a number of problems on the way.

The first was the way things worked:

  1. Lack of communication between authorities, or even subdivisions of the same authority.

  2. Financial obstacles – some organizations sell data or access to data

  3. Technological obstacles – lack of standards, incompatibility, lack of documentation

The second set of problems lay in the scope of the problem. This was not a simple system of websites: they needed to built a system that would provide a unified connection bus between the different arms of government – judiciary, taxation, customs and more – and the citizens, and this needed to be accomplished with an absolute minimum of cost, time and human resources.

Government as a PlatformThey needed authentication solutions for the fundamental task of identifying the citizen. They needed to gather different data structures, technologies and weave a single central system in between all these moving parts. They needed electronic messaging to communicate information to citizens. They needed electronic payment systems. Finally, they needed hosting to have the whole structure running.

This was also a relatively central system, which meant it needed the one thing that would be devastating to get wrong: scalability. Indeed, as Reaboi, explains, this was one of the first doubts their sponsors had.

“The WSO2 solution answered all of our problems,” says Reaboi. “Our requirements were many and had to cover many contexts…and future needs. This is why we use lots of WSO2 products; in the middle of this is the WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus.”

The end product is highly flexible. A public agency can come to them and be given the relevant interfaces to access the data they needed; where it came from or what format it was originally saved as, would not matter to the agency – the business of transforming the data is handled by the WSO2 Data Services Server and the ESB, which allowed them to open up data locked in diverse legacy systems without having to modify the existing data or software.

The WSO2 stack’s inherent multi-tenancy and tabletperformance let them scale this model quickly. Their test project, before it was announced to the public, took on some 5000 messages per second with only 2 ESB nodes. For 3.5 million people, they reasoned, that was more than enough scalability.  

Today, much of Moldova’s government services are online. Everything from citizen IDs to payment mechanisms has been launched, driving not just digitization, but governmental reform towards a more efficient way of running a country. Indeed, as Turcanu put it, “In fact, it is the basis for public services engineering which is going on parallel to this reform. It acts as the core element of the public service engineering reform of Moldova.”

The e-Government Center hasn’t stopped. They’re now working on electronic visas, electronic procurement systems, a system for developing online registry and permit solutions – the idea is to digitize everything by 2020. Looking on their progress, WSO2 is proud to be right at the heart of Moldova’s trailblazing achievements.  

To further understand Moldova’s eTransformation project see Artur Reaboi’s full talk at WSO2Con EU 2015.

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WSO2Con Insights: South Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) Focus on Open Platforms to Drive Innovation within Healthcare Services Industry

Spending in the healthcare industry continues to grow, reaching $2.8 trillion spent annually. However, excess costs from inefficient services and administrative waste prevent the industry from actually delivering the greatest health value for the investments citizens make. John Supra, Deputy Director for Operations and Information Management and CIO at South Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) is tackling this challenge head on.

In his WSO2Con 2014 keynote, Supra discussed the efforts to modernize state Medicaid systems to reduce the per-capita cost of healthcare in South Carolina’s Medicaid program while improving the patient experience. He also discussed the critical role that open technologies and platforms play in driving innovation within the healthcare industry.

Vision: Automate the Basics to Increase Services

Through October 2013, SCDHHS’ Medicaid program relied 100% on paper-based applications. For state employees handling eligibility and enrollment, the work involved moving paper from one place to another, leaving no time to deliver value-added services that would improve the customer’s experience.John Supra2

Supra recalled that he and his team saw an opportunity to transform the process of connecting and sharing information and bring in new possibilities, such as services to support healthy living and improved scheduling experiences through software applications.

Supra explained, “Shouldn’t the experience be like, ‘Give me the data, allow me to check the data electronically, choose a plan because Medicaid has different plans, figure out who the providers are in your area because we know where you live, maybe schedule an initial appointment because we know that primary care matters for healthy outcomes. Then we connect to healthy living. This is why thinking from a platform perspective is so critical to our state’s Medicaid program and actually drives different behaviors in Medicaid and the government.”

Ending the Monolithic Era

A key aspect of realizing the SCDHHS vision for improved services is re-architecting the state’s Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS), Supra observed. The current system is a single, monolithic system with limited APIs and interfaces, closed systems, and flat file data exchanges, he explains. The system is also expensive to maintain, making it difficult to innovate.

Significantly, Supra noted, basic enterprise services, such as collaboration, communication, and shared document imaging systems don’t exist since the system operates from the perspective that everything is a silo. Additionally, the data the team has to run its programs typically comes back a month later, meaning the system can’t be adjusted dynamically.

“We need to destroy it and think about a modular MMIS,” Supra stated. “Breaking this up into components that are based on enterprise services and open source platforms will allow us to think about reporting analytics separately in nearly real time.”

Bringing Greater Transparency to Healthcare

Although the vision is to transform the platform, like many private enterprises SCDHHS has started with a focused project that offers clear benefits. The project, Supra explained, is the New South Carolina Health Data Transparency Site. Through the site, the team is working to provide hospital, nursing home and procedure data, as well as data about their federally qualified health centers (FQHC). Most of the data can be downloaded for personal use, and a user can view and sort within the application.

John Supra1Unlike other projects where it may take months to make a minor change, Supra and his team developed the website in a matter of months using open source technologies, taking publicly available data and existing data in the department’s network to build a system with a strong user experience.

The website has started the conversation of transforming healthcare and health delivery policy, Supra observes. “We’ve provided data that starts to ask ‘Why is the system like that? How does it relate to policy-making? How does it relate to decision making?” he explained. “It also takes a burden off our staff who used to chase this data around when people asked. We tell them it’s available on the site, and we support them by saying ‘click here.’ It’s an important start because often people are making policy decisions without good data.”

Supra noted that his team now aims to take some of the work going on in the private sector and employer-sponsored insurance, to drive information to consumers and help them understand the choices they make.

Open Source Spurs Innovation

As Supra and his team continue to drive innovation, he views open source as playing a central role.

“Like our health transparency site, open source gives myself as a CIO the opportunity to bring things into our environment, to test them, to set up an API, to show that value without some of the procurement challenges,” Supra explained. Open source also allows innovative companies to participate without having to navigate all the contractual language involved in government procurement, he added.

Among the open source technologies Supra and his team have been evaluating are WSO2 Application Server and WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus. Additionally, Supra noted that, as SCDHHS moves into a more DevOps-centric approach, the department is looking at WSO2 App Factory and WSO2 API Manager and how they can help to make the environment more interoperable and accessible.

“As open source tech on government procurement, it makes it easy for us to bring in the technology, to really experiment with it, and we’ve been working with the WSO2 team for eight to nine months on that experimentation.”

For more information about how to drive innovation within the healthcare services industry, see Supra’s WSO2Con US 2014 full presentation.

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Guest Blog: Speeding Delivery of Affordable E-Health With WSO2

The good news is that modern technology is helping us to live longer. According to the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme, some 25% of the population in the European Union will be over 65 by the year 2020, and the number of people aged 65 to 80 years will rise by 40% between 2010 and 2030.

The challenge before us is to ensure that as people age, we can enable them to live independently and experience the highest quality of life possible—and do so in a way that is affordable for individuals and governments. Addressing that demand has been a key priority here in the Active Independent Living (AIL) group within Barcelona Digital Technology Center (BDigital).

We have built eKauri, a non-invasive e-health and smart home platform that empowers seniors to gain autonomy, participate in modern society, and achieve independence through eKauri1solutions based on information and communications technologies (ICT). It includes a patient application that provides a range of services activated by the users—for example a home media center and video conferencing—plus sensors that monitor the patient’s activities and environment. A second care center module gives caregivers and managers tools for such activities as monitoring and managing patients and handling patient alarms, among many others.

The cloud-enabled eKauri platform takes advantage of credit-card sized Raspberry Pi computers and Z-Wave wireless home automation devices within patients’ homes. It also relies on four eKauri2products from the open source WSO2 Carbon enterprise middleware platform: WSO2 API Manager, WSO2 Identity Server, WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus and WSO2 Application Server. Together, these products enable eKauri to tie together data, applications and services across a range of applications, computers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Notably, all WSO2 products extend from its Carbon base, so it created a seamless environment that allowed for our programmers to rapidly gain an understanding of the technology as well as accelerate our integration and product development.

Because our charter is to develop technology that commercial partners can then deliver as solutions to the market, we wanted to provide a minimally viable version that our commercial partners could start using by January 2015. By speeding our development with WSO2, we were able to complete the first minimally viable version of eKauri in October 2014, three months ahead of schedule, and we already have a built-in market and clients that want to pay for the product.

With a rapidly aging population worldwide, we need to move quickly to bring new solutions to market that enhance the health and quality of life for senior citizens. WSO2 has played an important role in helping us meet that demand with eKauri.

WSO2 recently published a case study about our use of its products with eKauri. You can read it here: http://wso2.com/casestudies/bdigital-delivers-e-health-and-smart-home-platform-using-the-wso2-carbon-platformJoan_Protasio

 

Joan Protasio, AIL Software Engineer, BDigital E-Health R&D Group

WSO2Con Insights – AlmavivA Adopts Lean Approach to Public Administration with WSO2

The Italian Ministry of Economy was looking for a complete transformation in data management by redefining and organizing its own data, so that information of millions of employees of the Italian Public Administration would be unique and certified.

The proposed system spelt the integration of two main IT systems in the Ministry; one that handles personal data, and a second that handles economic data, so that the system would have one single point of management, and serve applications regarding salaries and personal data as a self-service for the Italian public sector employees.

The Ministry approached AlmavivA Group, Italy’s number one Information and Communication Technology provider, for a solution. Guiseppe Bertone, Solution Architect at AlmavivA S.p.A. said during his session at WSO2Con 2014 EU, in Barcelona, Spain that AlmavivA designed and proposed an ad hoc master data management (MDM) solution for the Ministry, based on WSO2 products to manage the data of 2.6 million employees.

Picking the Best Product Solution

He said that there was a set criteria that AlmavivA and their client listed out prior to choosing the right products and platform for the project. Some of the critical features were interoperability with existing IT components, high modularity, optimized for performance, and most importantly, open source. Comparing pre-built product solutions available in the market, Bertone and his team made a decision to use WSO2 products for the entire solution.

“WSO2 products fit the requirement. You can enable only the components that you need, and leave the rest of it out, unlike in pre-built solutions,” he said.  almaviv1

He added that there were many redundant repositories within the Ministry IT systems; datasets needed to be optimized and integrated with external systems, and a migration workflow for the existing data had to be defined.

The reference architecture for the MDM solution included interface, events, security, and data quality components, as well as the repository layer, which consists of four databases; master data, meta data, historical data and reference data.  

The AlmavivA project ‘Anagrafca Unica’, roughly translating to ‘Unique Repository’, was initiated in March 2012.

The WSO2 Advantage

The mapped reference architecture was a total solution platform based on a set of WSO2 products;   almaviv2

WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) for interface services, the WSO2 Data Services Server (DSS) to access the repository layer and manage all life cycle services, WSO2 Identity Server (IS) as the security and identity component, WSO2 Message Broker (MB) for communication between applications, WSO2 Governance Registry (G-REG) to store configurations of all components, and the WSO2 Business Activity Monitor (BAM) to monitor services across the entire MDM solution. OracleDB is used as the repository layer.

With BAM being easily integrated to other WSO2 products, AlmavivA simply had to install only a specific BAM load inside each component, so that the statistics and real-time performance could be monitored. An additional console was added as an UI for the system’s custom procedures.

Another advantage of using WSO2 products was brought to light during the development stage; “Many aspects of WSO2 products can be simply configured from the web UI, or the developer studio for all WSO2 components. It’s really useful and easy to use,” explained Bertone.

In a covalent situation such as this, WSO2 deploys Carbon Apps. By creating a carbon app, a single file consisting of all components is created, so that once the file is deployed, the server knows which components to take, according to Bertone. “This is useful because once you have a system like this you can integrate it with an application cycle management solution already present in the customer environment, like we did,” he says. “We have now created a console where with a single click, the customer can pass from staging to production.”

AlmavivA is looking to expand Anagrafica Unica across the country to include all employees of the Italian Public Administration sector in the system, bringing the total user count to 3.5 million. Bertone and his team are also looking to serve data to external systems, such as the Ministry of Health, with more government institutions being added along the way.

For more information on AlmavivA’s development of the Master Data Management System, view the recording of Bertone’s WSO2Con EU presentation.

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