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.
The 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 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.