AlmavivA and WSO2 Help Italian Ministry of Economy and Finances to Manage Central Data Repository for 1.6 Million Employees
AlmavivA Uses WSO2 Middleware Platform to Drive Backend Processes of the Italian Ministry's Anagrafica Unica Master Data Management Solution
As part of the Italian government, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finances (MEF) is responsible for overseeing economic policy, public investments and spending. The Ministry not only interacts extensively with other government agencies but also with Italian citizens.
To ensure data consistency, MEF relies on Anagrafica Unica (Central Registry). The custom master data management (MDM) system handles self-service applications containing the salaries and personal information of employees with the Italian public sector and MEF operators. Built by AlmavivA Group using the WSO2 middleware platform to power the backend, Anagrafica Unica is used by some 1.6 million users across Italy for secure access to accurate information.
The Need for Centralized Master Data
For years, MEF maintained an internal architecture consisting of heterogeneous services. However, each application worked independently of one another and stored data separately, creating issues around system coordination, data management, and consistency. Realizing the need of MEF to centralize its master data, AlmavivA Group, Italy's top information and communication technology (ICT) provider, has designed an innovative solution, centered on the WSO2 platform.
"With the previous architecture, there was a heavy duplication of information," recalled Giuseppe Conigliaro, software engineering manager at AlmavivA Group. "Data was being shared between systems only when necessary using the extract, transform, load (ETL) process. A real centralized management of master data did not exist, since each application managed its own information as if it was master data."
MEF entrusted AlmavivA to develop a new solution that would effectively manage and facilitate data sharing between its various services.
"Our key objective was to centralize master data, so MEF could integrate different legacy systems with different data types," explained Marco Neri, innovation manager at AlmavivA Group.
"The componentized WSO2 platform meant that all the products were designed to work together seamlessly. This would speed our implementation process and allow us to easily add new WSO2 products in the future as needed."
Selecting Software to Meet Broad Solution Demands
MEF envisioned a self-service system that would offer a hub for handling the highly sensitive personal data of Italian public sector employees. Therefore AlmavivA had to address a number of considerations in selecting the database and middleware products to use. The solution needed to:
- Provide a data certificate to validate information within the system.
- Simplify the integration process to eliminate redundancies in streams, Web services and massive uploads.
- Gather information independent of available interfaces and decoupled from management components.
- Offer the flexibility to evolve toward a unique system for legal and economic personnel.
"It was important to consider the unique integrity of data in an open system," noted Giuseppe Bertone, solution architect at AlmavivA Group. "We had to look at how it would work with the different information systems of other agencies, such as the Ministry of Education."
Given the sensitivity of information being processed, MEF required that the solution be installed within its own data centers. Therefore AlmavivA focused its evaluation on software to support an MDM implementation that would run on-premises. After a comprehensive review process, AlmavivA selected an Oracle database and six pre-integrated products from the open source WSO2 enterprise middleware platform.
"We liked the flexibility provided both by WSO2's open source licensing and its platform, which is based on an OSGi-based architecture," Mr. Bertone explained. "In particular, the componentized WSO2 platform meant that all the products were designed to work together seamlessly. This would speed our implementation process and allow us to easily add new WSO2 products in the future as needed."
"Strong coordination with all entities involved in the Anagrafica Unica project is necessary for it to succeed. It's amazing to see how all these different systems fully integrate with WSO2's products."
Moving From Concept to Production
As AlmavivA began designing and building Anagrafica Unica, the company turned to the WSO2 technology article, "A Lean Approach to MDM using WSO2 Middleware Platform," for guidance on how to best leverage WSO2's software. Additionally, the solutions provider worked with the WSO2 support team to address questions as they arose in implementing the system.
Figure 1: Almaviva used the MDM architecture presented in the WSO2 technical article, A Lean Approach to MDM using WSO2 Middleware Platform," as a reference in developing the architecture for Anagrafica Unica.
The resulting MDM system architecture of two parts: a frontend and backend, which run on 20 Linux virtual machines through the MEF's data center.
The frontend of the system, built using Liferay open source enterprise portal software, is a portal that provides a user interface and serves as a persistence layer for the Oracle database.
At the backend is a repository layer provided by the Oracle database, which is integrated with five WSO2 middleware products serving different functions:
- WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (WSO2 ESB) handles mediation and transformation to maintain interface services and data quality.
- WSO2 Data Services Server, which exposes data sources as Web services and REST resources, supports the system's data life-cycle services.
- WSO2 Identity Server improves security by providing authentication and authorization services.
- WSO2 Message Broker facilitates events.
- WSO2 Governance Registry establishes governance and stewardship.
Figure 2: Almaviva's MDM architecture relies on an Oracle database for the MDM repository, along with five products from the WSO2 platform to support the middleware layer: WSO2 ESB, WSO2 Data Services Server, WSO2 Message Broker, WSO2 Identity Server, and WSO2 Governance Registry.
"Strong coordination with all entities involved in the Anagrafica Unica project is necessary for it to succeed," explains Annabella d'Elia, partnership manager at AlmavivA Group. "It's amazing to see how all these different systems fully integrate with WSO2's products."
Testing also was critical to ensuring that Anagrafica Unica would work effectively once it was moved into production.
"To establish the quality of data from our first loading," Mr. Conigliaro explained, "We used the same management services designed for the normal use of Anagrafica Unica and configured the data into batch mode."
Coordinating Systems and Services via MDM
Today, Anagrafica Unica provides master data for the demographic information of individuals across a number of agencies and organizations serving the Italian government, supporting more than 1.6 million users. On a monthly basis, Anagrafica Unica performs 250,000-plus write operations and another 2 million read operations.
Through the data propagation and synchronization functionality provided by Anagrafica Unica, MEF systems for attendance, production slips, and self-service functions, among others are updated on changes that occur in personal data. The system has been implemented using a publish/subscribe mechanism, which allows applications to be updated on changes concerning personal data.
First, asynchronous processes and changes to the Oracle database make notifications about the information. Then an exchange of information is made through an XML schema definition (XSD) shared with any other target subsystem, including applications or databases, where automatic re-propagation is configurable.
"We are thrilled by the impact that Anagrafica Unica has made so far in helping to streamline processes of data management and by the effectiveness of WSO2's middleware in supporting these operations."
"Ultimately, the process ends with the target system receiving the information regardless of the outcome of the subsequent processing," Bertone explains.
Continuing the MDM Evolution
Looking ahead, AlmavivA plans to expand the reach of Anagrafica Unica to include the remaining 1,600,000 employees within the Italian public sector. Additionally, the company is exploring new ways to extend the MEF's use of WSO2's software as the MDM system evolves.
"We are defining the drivers to base our next level of Anagrafica Unica's growth and examining how WSO2's middleware can support that effort," Mr. Conigliaro explains.
"We are thrilled by the impact that Anagrafica Unica has made so far in helping to streamline processes of data management and by the effectiveness of WSO2’s middleware in supporting these operations," adds Mr. Bertone. "We now look forward to working with WSO2 to develop the next steps for this system."