Category Archives: Customers

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.

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, 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.

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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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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 solutions 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 products 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.

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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WSO2Con Insights–Trimble Builds an Enterprise PaaS Framework with Open Source

A large part of the value of Trimble solutions is that they enable customers to build and manage their own positioning-centric solutions for employees in the field—a key requirement for customers in the agriculture, construction, and transportation sectors. Trimble also needs this capability in-house, since its various divisions are set up to be entrepreneurial and have the speed and agility to execute. As Prakash Iyer, Trimble’s vice president for software architecture and strategy, explained during his session at WSO2Con 2013 US, building an enterprise platform as a service (PaaS) framework with open source solutions helped Trimble meet these goals.

The Move to a Cloud Platform

When Trimble first considered building a flexible development platform, the question was whether to go with a traditional platform versus a product-driven platform, Iyer recalled. With a traditional platform, by the time the hard work is done, the technology is likely to have changed, he noted. The better solution, the Trimble team realized, was a product-driven platform where selection of the platform elements is driven by the product. Users can then build applications on the platform and deliver them efficiently.

PrakashIyer1The Trimble Platform as a Service, known as TPaaS, provides the core services needed to build any modern enterprise application, and also provides an architectural framework to build loosely coupled SOA applications, Iyer explained. Providing a foundation for TPaaS are four multi-tenant, cloud-enabled WSO2 Carbon products: WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus, WSO2 API Manager, WSO2 Application Server, and WSO2 Identity Server.

“Our first implementation of TPaaS had Identity Server, App Server, API Manager and ESB. We didn’t use the whole stack but then we incrementally added to it,” Iyer noted. “We’re able to then build an app on that platform and then deliver it to the team, and prove it can be done efficiently. And that creates momentum.”

TPaaS Supports Internal and External Users

Iyer explained that Trimble’s development platform includes deployment infrastructure and managed hosting services, all of which help reduce the cost, time, and complexity of application development.

A key advantage of TPaaS is that it is accessible to Trimble’s network of partners and dealers, who often need to use the system to exchange data and flow transactions through it, Iyer said. It can be offered as a service framework to these partners and dealers to host their applications. He noted that the platform also provides a cloud container that can host any Trimble service, and act as a gateway to share any Trimble service for wider reuse.

The Benefits of Open Source

While the cost savings of open source were attractive, Iyer stated that other aspects of an open source licensing model were important.

“We can take WSO2 and customize it. If we don’t find everything we need, we can PrakashIyer3 customize it. We don’t have to take everything, just the part needed for us,” Iyer observed. “The other advantage is portability and ownership. I want to take my PaaS across multiple infrastructures and services; some divisions may want to deploy in Rackspace, some in Amazon, or even internally.”

Additionally, since technology changes so quickly, using WSO2 open source products allows  Trimble to avoid costly investments in solutions that will become out of date, or can’t be customized. Finally, there was the issue of focus. Iyer recalled that Trimble needed to build a solution, and using open source would allow the team to focus on those areas where Trimble could differentiate.

“My goal was always to eventually have everything from writing the code to deployment; things we could assemble and put together our own platform, and then we can focus on the applications,” Iyer said. “That was the strategic alignment part we shared with WSO2.”

For more information about Trimble’s development of an enterprise PaaS framework, view Iyer’s WSO2Con 2013 presentation.

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WSO2Con Insights – BarclaycardUS Optimizes Backend Services and Performance Across 10 Distinct Environments with WSO2 ESB

As one of the world’s largest and most respected financial services companies, with partnerships that include over 60 best-in-class companies and brands, BarclaycardUS is dedicated to making the purchasing experience simple and rewarding for its customer community. A key part of serving those customers is working with backend service providers using multiple protocols at very high volumes, explained Alex Brown, BarclaycardUS group lead, in his presentation at WSO2Con 2013 US.

For BarclaycardUS, the solution has been to integrate to integrate WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (WSO2 ESB) with its existing service-oriented architecture (SOA), and leverage REST APIs with the ESB to boost performance and monitoring across 10 distinct environments.

Different Partners with Different Domains

BarclaycardUS’ partnerships involve handling credit cards for large companies such as Apple and LL Bean, and specializing in the backend services for these types of businesses. Additionally, BarclaycardUS works with different vendors to conduct its credit checks, rewards and fulfillment.

“This creates an interesting perspective, since we have to integrate with a lot of different partners with unique and different needs,” Brown said.

AlexBrown-Barclaycard1According to Brown, the company has to accommodate applications and services relying on SOAP, REST, Android and Apple iOS mobile operating systems, Voice XML, and OFX, along with many different APIs. In the wake of increased cross-domain orchestration, BarclaycardUS realized the need for an ESB to serve as a common backbone for connecting these different services.

After exploring various offerings on the market, BarclaycardUS decided on WSO2 due to its ease-of-use and comprehensive middleware stack, which represented endless possibilities for growth.

“The other open source platforms we looked at during the time didn’t have that, and WSO2 was very complete and robust and supported all the modern protocols, which was a big advantage for us,” Brown explained.

Strengthening Services with WSO2 ESB

Today, Brown noted, “We’re leveraging the ESB and different parts of it, and we have a lot of different use cases.” At WSO2Con he reviewed three of those use cases to highlight how WSO2 ESB is enabling BarclaycardUS to optimize business services.

Prepaid Platform is a new service the company has rolled out, which works as a mobile application available on iPhone and Android application stores. It supports balance inquiry and mobile application and origination, Brown noted. The mobile bill payment platform also is leveraging external prepaid vendors.

“To do that, we had a mobile app that was talking in REST to the ESB, and behind the scenes AlexBrown-Barclaycard2 we had to orchestrate to many different systems,” Brown explained.

Core Domain Services: are hosted in many locations and pull data from data sources and different vendors. As a result, company wants to gain control over what is happening and have a cohesive view of service APIs in the organization, Brown explained. The company’s goal is to have customers, accounts, devices and some of these core domain services facade with each other. Working with the ESB, the company has an effective intermediary to do this.

“In the ESB, behind the scenes, it’s talking to many different things like partners, existing services we have, and different vendors—this is what we’re heading towards and is in production now,” Brown said.

Account Aggregators is a new service that is currently in development and will go live soon, Brown noted. It will address the challenge of screen scraping, programmatic collection of visual data, which can often be a heavy process that requires aggregators to login, pretend to be a customer, go through and load Web resources. BarclaycardUS didn’t want these aggregators to take valuable processing away from its regular customers. With the WSO2 ESB, BarclaycardUS can have its aggregators support the OFX standard used by banks and boost performance.

“In the ESB, the aggregators are coming in and are authenticating themselves, and I’m loading all of this data at exactly the same time. So the aggregators were able to get the info off of our website, scraping it in a minute or two—this takes less than a second, around 900 milliseconds—we’ve loaded 100% of that customer’s information and given it to the aggregator,” Brown said.

He added, “We’re also using the throttle, so if they’ve indicated they won’t go above a certain threshold but there are multiple aggregators, we need to make it so they don’t accidentally go above that threshold.”

Investing in the Future

In addition to WSO2 ESB, BarclaycardUS takes advantage of WSO2 Governance Registry and WSO2 Business Activity Monitor. Looking ahead, Brown noted, the company plans to further enhance existing services and the use of coesb-logo-h42mposite services.

“The goal is to make this a cohesive API,” Brown greg-logo-h42explained. “We’re finding that we have a lot of services that had to be handwritten, which involves talking with bam-logo-h42our backend service providers and developers, and taking the time to test and deploy.”

BarclaycardUS plans to integrate the WSO2 Identity Server into its system to implement OAuth for RESTful services, which will be important for mobile applications. Additionally, the company is looking at the potential to leverage the WSO2 Complex Event Processor to help manage business operations and events streams and the WSO2 API Manager to gain insight into metering and monitoring of different service consumers.

“It sounds like we’re going to get exactly what we need with WSO2 in 2014, it’s a very cool product we’re going to be playing with more.”

For more information about how BarclaycardUS works with different backend service providers across 10 distinct environments using the WSO2 Carbon enterprise middleware platform, see Brown’s WSO2Con 2013 full presentation.

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WSO2Con Insights – Accenture Solves IT Integration Challenges Using the Cloud-Enabled WSO2 ESB to Support the Accenture Cloud Platform

As the world’s largest independent technology and outsourcing services provider for nearly 25 years, Accenture has extensive experience in helping global clients navigate through the
complex cloud choices in the market. Igor Mameshin, a manager within the Accenture Cloud Platform (ACP), explained in a presentation at WSO2Con US 2013, how the company is using WSO2 technology to help address today’s cloud demands.

Mameshin explained that, as companies use hybrid cloud integration—combining private computing resources and public services with integration touch points between the two environments—new and more complex risks arise.

For Accenture, the solution was to build a cloud-based infrastructure that accelerates the successful adoption and integration of cloud services, without compromising quality, standards or security. The Accenture Cloud Platform, powered by WSO2’s enterprise middleware platform, Mameshin explained, provides a rich portfolio of application adapters that simplify the connectivity to external systems such as ERP applications like SAP, Salesforce.com, social platforms and other integration endpoints.

The Service Integration Challenge

“Governance was a challenge in the past, but the cloud introduces new and even more complex risks. Service interoperability is a critical problem to solve,” Mameshin observed. Without consistency to this solution, IT users take over the issues, and a company loses control over defining any IT infrastructure within its organization. Multiple business units in the enterprise go to multiple public providers. “Thus, you never know what goes on within the enterprise,” he said.

IgorMameshin-AccentureTo address integration challenges around connectivity, system configuration issues, application customizations, non-functional requirements, reliability, scalability, and security, Accenture realized that the solution could not rely on existing on-premises integration tools. The resulting solution was the Accenture Cloud Platform, a cloud-enabled middleware platform based on a SOA, to better implement the interoperability between the cloud and on-premises environments for its customers.

By acting as both a governance entity and a cloud broker, the Accenture Cloud Platform allows an enterprise to provision services in public cloud providers. Accenture currently works with Amazon Web Services, Azure, NTT Communications, and Terremark. A proof of concept was developed to explain the integration between Salesforce.com and SAP ERP using a cloud-based implementation of WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus.

Integration Approach Overview

Accenture has employed WSO2’s Enterprise Service Bus as a cloud-based integration backbone to pass messages from system to system, Mameshin explained. This has provided agility and flexibility to adapt to future change and growth. Moreover, it provides location transparency, transformation, routing, and protocol conversion, and it has helped with security issues, reliable messaging, and monitoring and management.

The platform has a management portal that provides a self-service interface where customers can engage with the service catalogue and pre-integrated multiple services, and order cloud services through this front-end. WSO2 ESB is installed on one of the virtual machines that Accenture has provisioned in the entity public cloud. IgorMameshin-Accenture2

Within WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus is WSO2’s Salesforce.com Certified Force.com Developer (SFDC) mediation library, which contains a set of ESB templates and offers operations that simplify a customer’s interactions with Salesforce.com. Supported operations include log in, log out, create, update, Query and QueryMore. On the Salesforce.com side, Accenture used SOAP API, REST API, and the WSO2 Salesforce.com Connector to work with these APIs. A new feature of the WSO2 Developer Studio integrated development environment (IDE) allows for developing integration flows when integrating via the Salesforce.com connector.

Mameshin noted that an advantage of WSO2’s application-level integration approach, which uses real-time integration based on the native application’s integration frameworks and APIs, is that it preserves the application’s data integrity. It also allows for real-time integration between Salesforce.com and SAP, he said, and provides application-level security and an audit trail.

In implementing WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus to create Accenture’s cloud platform, Mameshin concluded, “We established that WSO2 ESB is a powerful and stable product—it did the job quickly and correctly. It has been working for three months without needing to re-boot to fix any issues.”

For more information about how Accenture uses WSO2 products to power the Accenture Cloud Platform, see Mameshin’s WSO2Con 2013 full presentation.

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WSO2Con Insights – Spectrum Health Evolves Healthcare System with Custom SOA Infrastructure Solution Powered by WSO2 Carbon Middleware

As a leading not-for-profit, integrated, managed care health care organization, Spectrum Health’s subsidiaries include hospitals, treatment facilities, urgent-care facilities, as well as physician practices that serve the western Michigan area. In healthcare today, uptime is critical and there is an increasing demand for real-time results.

In his presentation at WSO2Con US 2013, Paul Tjapkes, Spectrum Health SOA architect discussed how the company is addressing these and other healthcare industry demands through its service-oriented architecture (SOA). The SOA, which takes advantage of WSO2’s open source middleware stack, has helped to merge Spectrum Health’s internal IT departments and optimize information sharing and security.

A Custom SOA Infrastructure Stack

An SOA training session served as the initial introduction to WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus, Tjapkes recalled: “We brought in because it was easy to put into a virtual machine and on users’ laptops. It worked great in training, so we ended up using it in production.”

Spectrum Health had worked with other ESB products, Tjapkes noted, but some of them required thousands of lines of code and hundreds of files just for a simple proxy to pass through. By contrast, he said that using WSO2 ESB, he and a colleague could create ten lines of configuration and a full proxy with security enabled. Since then, WSO2 ESB has become one of the company’s primary integration points.

PaulT-SpectrumFollowing its success with WSO2 ESB, Spectrum Health has implemented other WSO2 middleware products. WSO2 Governance Registry is used to communicate and manage service deployments across different environments, Tjapkes explained.

The company also uses WSO2 Business Activity Monitor (BAM), said Tjapkes, noting, “It’s important to know who’s doing what. My favorite use case is it gives us capacity planning info. We can see if a service spikes up in usage, so you potentially build out better capabilities there.”

Additionally, Spectrum Health relies on WSO2 Identity Server for its healthcare-focused XACML Policy Decision Point (PDP).

Insights for Success

In his presentation, Tjapkes also reflected on lessons that Spectrum Health learned in building its SOA infrastructure. The most important lesson was following a SOA roadmap to keep goals on track. Tjapkes explained that defining a multi-year plan, understanding the benefits and costs involved, and securing company executive support for the project are crucial for executing an effective roadmap.

“If you don’t have a plan, you’re not going to be happy with the results,” Tjapkes said. At thePaulT-Spectrum2 same time, he said, “Standards are what makes SOAs work, and it’s important to have vendors follow them as well.”

Tjapkes noted that an advantage of the open source community is that it’s founded on standards such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Service Definition Language (WSDL), XML/XSD, WS-Security, Transport Layer Security (TLS), and the X.509 ITU-T standard for a public key infrastructure (PKI) and privilege management infrastructure (PMI). These technologies need to become part of the business.

Tjapkes then highlighted the importance adhering to SOA principles and having a team dedicated to supporting the SOA, explaining that it’s important for the team to organize outside of projects, so that service development doesn’t become project-driven.

Tjapkes concluded, “We’re solving problems in a different way in healthcare than we have been traditionally. Our goal is to give our patients and members a better experience. I recently met with one of the VPs, and she told me we never could’ve accomplished what we did this year without the investment we made in SOA. After doing all the heavy lifting, we can finally focus on innovation.

For more information about how Spectrum Health created its custom SOA infrastructure solution, see Tjapkes’ WSO2Con 2013 full presentation.

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