Category Archives: Customers

Trimble, WSO2, and The Internet of Dirty Things

“It’s probably a simplification to say that you have to have muddy work boots to be a Trimble customer, but if you have muddy work boots, you know who we are.”

– Gregory Best, Senior Technologist, Trimble, speaking at WSO2Con US 2015

Trimble, founded in 1978, is a company where the Internet of Things is not just a catchphrase. For some reason, Trimble’s Wikipedia page doesn’t do it justice; ‘makes GPS positioning devices, laser rangefinders and UAVs’ barely scratches the surface of what Trimble does.

Consider: In 1990, a climber named Wally Berg led an expedition up Mount Everest. He carried with him a Trimble GPS device, which he planted on Everest at roughly the cruising altitude of a Boeing 747. The purpose was to try and figure out the real height of the tallest mountain in the world.

Take Disneyland.

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Disneyland has some 100 million dollars’ worth of extravagant and complex costumes. Tracking all of those was once a 180 person-hour job – 15 to 20 people, says Gregory, would work 8 to 10 hours a day to go through and hand-count everything. One Trimble division changed all that: by attaching lowly RFID tags to every costume, they managed to set up a system where one person pushes a cart up and down the aisle and all the costumes check in – a device role-call done via radio.

That’s 180 person-hours cut down to 2.

As Gregory says, if you can do it in one place, you can do it in another. If you can tag clothes, you can tag other things. Trimble, working with Ford and DeWalt, created a system where tagged tools are networked to a computer sitting in a dashboard. When the contractor has a specific job, the system is able to highlight what he needs. When he’s done, the system is able to check whether he’s returned everything and is free to go.

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“And if you can do that inside the truck, you can do that outside: so we can put tags on equipment and materials out on a storage yard, but the RFID tags on the outside of the truck can now add a GPS receiver. As the truck goes through the yard it can inventory everything and associate that with their GPS positions; now I know where everything I need to know is.”

This is IoT. Stripped to actual moving parts, IoT becomes a buzzword wrapped around transmitters, receivers, sensors and clever software.

The buck doesn’t stop here. Trimble’s applications of this technology take us into fleet management – where every truck is not just a vehicle, but a rolling mass of information on wheels, spewing out numbers for everything from speed to engine faults to fuel consumption; that veers into routing, where it’s never the shortest distance, but the most fuel-efficient journey that matters, with driving regulations that change from state to state. Where you’re able to tell if a truck is going too fast, and if its weight is causing it to handle different at those speeds.

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That leads up to being able to collect data from all sorts of different sources, analyze it and be able to tell truckers that gas is cheaper here than in the next state, and to be able to use all of these things to figure out the best possible route for any truck to take.

“But we can do better than that,” says Gregory, who seems to have made this his catchphrase. While Google has been building self-driving cars, Trimble’s been gunning for the big game: they’ve used Trimble positioning to automate massive CAT haul trucks. They pick up loads in very specific points, drop them off in very specific points, stop when they wants to refuel, and doing it in a very efficient, very safe way.

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A robot driving something this large is almost scary, when you think about it. And Trimble hasn’t stopped: they’re extending this to farming vehicles, and pairing that with survey data to control how much water, fertilizer and effluence is laid down on the field. Everything is optimized for the best harvest.

All of this inevitably demands some incredibly powerful software, and that’s what Trimble Connect is: a robust Platform-as-a-Service that provides the core components for any application and lets Trimble’s rather diversified businesses maintain a set of services on top of it. It’s accessible to Trimble’s network of partners and dealers and also provides a cloud container than can host any Trimble service. It’s built using four multi-tenant, cloud-enabled WSO2 middleware  products: WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus, WSO2 API Manager, WSO2 Application Server, and WSO2 Identity Server.

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This is crucial, because, as Gregory  explains, Trimble’s businesses are run separately and there’s not a lot of coordination between all of them; after all, it’s a huge leap from measuring the tops of mountains to automating giant machines that look like they came out of Mad Max. But because of this platform, Trimble is able to share technology and capability across all of these – if agriculture wants a geofencing capability and construction has one, they can just go take that capability. Thanks to WSO2 and a lot of hard work, Trimble can keep climbing those mountains and stalking giant fleets of IoT-enabled trucks. 

For more insight into Trimble and how they do things, watch Gregory Best’s talk at WSO2Con here. For more information on WSO2 and how our platform works, visit wso2.com/products.

Zeomega: Building on WSO2 for a Comprehensive Healthcare Solution

The typical health management platform is a complex mechanism. This is, after all, an industry with zero tolerance for faults: even the slightest mistake could mean a life in danger.

Building healthcare solutions is what Zeomega specializes in. The Texas-based firm delivers integrated informatics and business process management solutions. Zeomega’s clients collectively service more than 30 million individuals across the United States.

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WSO2 is a part of their success: key to Zeomega is Jiva, Zeomega’s population health management platform. Delivering analytics, workflow, content and patient engagement capabilities, Jiva uses key WSO2 products and provides a deployable PHM infrastructure that both healthcare providers and clients can use. A strong track record of integration and acquisitions keep both Zeomega and Jiva on top of what they do.

Attending WSO2Con Asia 2016 to explain all of this were Praveen Doddamani and Harshavardhan Gadham Mohanraj, Technical Leads at Zeomega. Their speech, titled Building on WSO2 for a Comprehensive Healthcare Solution, detailed how Jiva works and why. Let’s dig in.

The State of the Art

Jiva has the capability to integrate with various data repositories and management systems. During the initial days of integration, they built an ETL tool and a framework – using Python – to integrate data into Jiva, generally in the form of a CSV. It could also export data.

As their customer base expanded, this integration challenge became even more integral; their requirements changed to needing to load millions of records. To pull this off, Zeomega used the pyramid framework to build a RESTful web service that would do the job. They ended up building a SOAP system as well to better interface with their clients, and using these three tools, they could address batch integrations effectively.

When it comes to a deployment, however, with multiple servers, having these multiple systems turned out to be a burden, especially when clients needed a single API to be able to manipulate data; multiple systems with different tech stacks became roadblocks to both support and development.

The Fix

“We don’t want to rewrite our existing logic; we want to leverage the existing business logic and provide a healthcare solution to external applications and well as third-party vendors,” said Harshavardhan Mohanraj, who was co-presenting with Doddamani.

At this point, they started evaluating WSO2 for a solution to this problem. WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus and WSO2 API Manager are built for this purpose. The WSO2 ESB would allow them to retain their legacy business platform and still connect whatever they needed to. WSO2 API Manager would handle the complete API management lifecycle, allowing them to push out secure APIs for their real-time web services.

To do this, said Mohanraj, they created a Jiva API framework. The core Jiva platform is exposed through RabbitMQ. Data is sent and received to this core platform through a module with the WSO2 ESB; this handles the integration, data transformation, turning flat files (CSV/XML)  or anything else into the JSON actually processed by Jiva.

image01This functionality is exposed via WSO2 API Manager, which enables Zeomega to publish, deploy and manage the necessary SOAP and REST APIs.

In the future, said Mohanraj, they intend to shift Jiva from a monolithic structure to a less tightly coupled SOA model, with reusable components and better standards support. And to do this, they intend to use WSO2 – not just WSO2 ESB and WSO2 API Manager, but also WSO2 Identity Server and WSO2 Governance Registry.

“WSO2 products provide us with high performance, high availability, and better configurability,” said Mohanraj. “We want SOA governance, DevOps and flexibility. As a whole, we’re able to achieve a robust solution by integrating WSO2 products. We’re now moving away from spending more of our efforts on business infrastructure and we’re able to speed up agility by creating healthcare solutions.”

To learn more about Jiva and the WSO2 collaboration, watch the Zeomega talk at WSO2Con Asia 2016 here.

 

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 risk 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 information 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.

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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, 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.

OD Arch

“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.

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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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