All posts by Vichitra Godamunne

Delighting Customers with an API First Approach at Proximus

Proximus, the largest telecommunications provider in Belgium, has been around since 1930. At present, Proximus provides internet, TV, telephone, and network-based ICT services. Their brand portfolio includes Scarlet, NBRACE, tango, ClearMedia, TeleSign, Davinsi Labs, telindus, BEMOBILE, and bics. Collectively, these brands have presence beyond Europe – in the Middle East, Americas, Africa, and APAC.

APIs Are Great – Again

Proximus has 2,000 to 3,000 applicators in the entire organization, integrating internally and externally with partners, competitors, and customers. Most importantly, these integrations have to be managed. The scenario that would result in not doing so is endless difficulty and inconvenience. A decade ago, Proximus designed their architecture for managing commodity services such as authentication, authorization, routing, and monitoring. So far, so good.

Change came in the form of agile business transformation. By becoming more agile, they were looking to deliver services faster, of better quality, and at lower cost. Proximus achieved business agility by building functionality shaped building blocks that are re-usable and loosely coupled. These building blocks are used to provide their digital solutions, all at lower costs and higher quality. Agile transformation has been made possible by WSO2 API Manager, which supports any spectrum of the API lifecycle, and WSO2 Identity Server, a holistic identity and access management (IAM) solution. Both are open source.

“We had to rethink what we were doing and essentially look at making APIs great again,” says Sean Kelly, an enterprise architect at Proximus. They’ve already worked with APIs, mainly to offer services – but agile transformation means approaching everything differently. This began by bringing together architectural domains that are well-defined and separate. For one, there was a functional domain which operated on specific blocks of functionalities (such as customer address management). Then there was an important security domain that is responsible concerns such as GDPR compliance. The application domain handles patching, upgrading, migrations, and such. And finally, the infrastructure domain is needed for deployment.

Functional Domain in Detail

Sean explains the new approach at Proximus by using the functional domain as an example. The team at Proximus documented all business capabilities and they first defined the characteristics of a capability. For starters, a capability must be a subject matter expert i.e. a customer address management capability is the owner and master of this specific block of data. This capability is the single source of data for the particular function, with a specific team attached to it. Furthermore, business capabilities are also mutually exclusive – unique, but independent, self-contained, and well defined.

The implementation of this new API-first approach happened in a very structured manner. APIs at Proximus are lightweight and powerful, with simpler life cycles and release cycles. Product teams were empowered and the API management platform is more agile. Although the API management platform is a self-service one, there are certain controls in place. Collaboration plays a big role too. Given the number of architectural domains, collaboration could be a challenge and it required a shift in mindset across the organization.

Organizational Change from Service Orientation (SOA) to Resource-Based Architecture

Proximus adopted the Bimodal practice to deal with organizational change. Introduced by Gartner, Bimodal refers to the strategy of coping with change and it’s comprised of two modes (modes 1 and 2). As per Gartner’s definition, these 2 modes are cycles, and not separate groups or departments in the company. “Mode 1 is the marathon runner, that is, it refers to APIs that perform core business functions. Mode 2 is more like a sprinter. These are the APIs that respond to the environment, are closer to your customers, more agile, and typically more disruptive,” Sean explains. At Proximus, mode 1 is applied to internal APIs and existing SOA services. Mode 2 is applied to external APIs and this is where they publish their digital products, with a strong focus on security.

Apart from the Bimodal practice, Proximus has also adopted several principles. There’s no domain dumping model at Proximus, and they use concepts that are known and understood within the organization. They design for loose coupling, as vendor-neutral APIs are preferred and it allows them to change one component to another with minimal impact. Proximus also use industry standards such as O-Auth2, XACML, SID, JWTE, etc. Another is the use of smart endpoints and dumb pipes, which is to avoid business logic in a centralized middleware. Security is coded, rather than configured. As such, the code is typically only written once and then validated by security, making it easier to manage this process as well. Proximus also do not use the latest version of a particular technology offered – they prefer to trail behind the bleeding edge, as they’re on the lookout for the first round of patches and use the functionality with greater confidence at a later time. And finally, Proximus only builds components or purchases software that is cloud native.

Delighting Customers

The team at Proximus are satisfied with their API first approach and the resulting API marketplace. “We’re focusing on delighting our customers, delivering value, and doing all this at a lower cost. We use WSO2 to do what they do best. For us, WSO2 is an API management platform and we let them handle that while we focus on the business,” says Sean. As with any innovative business, there are more changes afoot at Proximus and they’re looking to take WSO2 along with them as their business evolves.

Watch Sean’s presentation for more information about the transformation at Proximus.

Check out our product pages for WSO2 API Manager and WSO2 Identity Server to find out how you can use these products in your enterprise.

Open Banking Implementations in Europe and Africa: The Story of Société Générale (So Far)

Investment and retail bank Société Générale has its headquarters in Paris, France plus 45 branches in 36 countries, representing over 18 million customers globally. Retail banking services support 3 business lines in the regions of Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean, and Russia. Their 2020 strategic plan is simply named “Transform to Grow.” Open is the keyword here. “We want an open approach to develop offers and client satisfaction,” says Jean-Louis Rocchisani, enterprise architect at Société Générale.

The Transformative Powers of Open Banking

Open banking plays a crucial role in Société Générale’s transformative approach to business growth. Their open banking journey started in 2015, having recognized the opportunities it presents for improving the time-to-market and reforming their business model. Their open banking efforts have not passed by unnoticed. Recently, Société Générale was selected as the most advanced company out of 44 listed companies in the French market. After investing in the needed architecture, Société Générale now looking to extend towards the bank as a platform model.

Société Générale also sees the the transformative power of technology and APIs in its future. “We’re currently in the proprietary model, but we see the opportunities to increase our distribution power by creating a smooth digital end-to-end process,” says Jean-Louis. “We’re also looking to monetize our services and most importantly, create interactions between service producers and customers – which is also quite hard to launch. But this is possible because we have APIs as a product.”

Société Générale is guided by open banking drivers in the many parts of the world that they operate in. These include PSD2 compliance and beyond in Europe, modernizing B2B2C models, and enhancing digital banking services (as is the case in Africa). Community plays a central role in Société Générale’s open banking efforts, as markets are different and evolving across countries, and working with local communities of financial service providers is essential.

Jean-Louis presenting at WSO2Con EU

How Société Générale Came Across WSO2 Open Banking

Société Générale and WSO2 have a strategic partnership that dates back to 2015, ever since the first successful implementation. Their first success story and the fact that WSO2 is open source were major deciding factors for Société Générale. SOSMART is the acronym for Société Générale’s architecture principles which are sustainable, open, modular and real-time, and API first. They were looking for a technology partner who would accompany them for the entirety of their open banking journey. WSO2 Open Banking provides the technology for open APIs, secure integration with banks and third parties, and integration analytics capabilities. “WSO2 has innovative products, efficient people, and a shared vision with us,” explains Jean-Louis.

Use Cases From Africa and Europe

Germany: This was the first use case implemented by Société Générale and is centered on equipment finance, financing for big customers through vendors. This project began by implementing a B2B2C platform using WSO2 Open Banking, using the support from local vendors. This platform is now extended to include international vendors as well, using a federated model rather than a shared one to improve its efficiency.

Czech Republic: A large bank in the Czech Republic needed to leverage PSD2 towards open APIs, using WSO2 Open Banking. The bank is now working with fintech developers and partners in the country, using the API platform which was launched. This bank is looking to close the gap between iteration and deployment and they’re satisfied with their progress so far.

Africa: Société Générale works on innovations to digital and mobile banking rather than regulatory compliance in their African business operations. They currently have 12 banks in Africa, all of whom are different despite sharing the same core banking system and is therefore difficult to scale use cases from one country to another. An API layer has reduced the time to market, and the next stage is to open this platform to fintechs and other service providers in the ecosystem.

France: Société Générale’s French overseas territories banks have to achieve PSD2 compliance. In spite of the tight deadline, Société Générale believes this can be achieved on time and are using WSO2 Open Banking to speed up the implementation.

What’s Next?

With experience gained from a string of successes, Société Générale has more exciting projects lined up together with WSO2 Open Banking. For Jean-Louis, technology is an enabler (and not a constraint) and he says, “We believe in an interoperable world, where technology opens up possibilities leading to more success stories.”

Listen to Jean-Louis’s complete presentation in this video.

WSO2 Open Banking helps you achieve regulatory compliance in Europe and Australia, with successful use cases from around the world. Learn all about its capabilities here.

Macmillan Learning and Ribbonfish: Solving Diverse Integration Needs to Help Students and Instructors Better

Macmillan Learning is a leader in the education publishing and EdTech industries, with a target market of over 9,000 colleges and 50,000 high schools in USA and Canada. Their partnerships with many of the world’s best researchers, educators, and administrators, as well as their emphasis on top quality content drive their business. Macmillan Learning teamed up with Ribbonfish, who specializes in offering service solutions to the media and publishing industries, to answer the changing needs of the education industry – helping both students and instructors improve their outcomes.

A Technology Strategy for an Evolving Industry

Macmillan Learning observed how the education industry has been evolving over the years and realized that they need a strategy to answer to the rapid developments that are taking place in this industry. Key among their goals was responding to market needs faster and providing students with interactive digital solutions to support their education.

However, the education industry is a seasonal one and Macmillan Learning wanted to ensure their new solutions caused the least amount of disruption, particularly during peak times. Another important consideration was the internal organizational structure. “You can’t develop a technology strategy in isolation, we need to be mindful of both the structure and culture of an organization. The culture needs to be improved, particularly when partnering with others and the structure needs to be standardized across the various teams,” says Sagar Bujbal, VP technology at Macmillan Learning.

Like any other business, Macmillan Learning integrates with many disparate systems. “Around 60 to 80% of your time is spent on supporting these various systems, rather than concentrating on innovation. When thinking about the right solutions implement, we really need to quantify the strengths and weaknesses of each of these systems,” says Paul King, a solutions architect at Ribbonfish. Both Paul and Sagar stress on the point that seamless integration in such a context requires architectural guardrails and governance. They explain that a well-defined target reference architecture (prior to development) with a long term vision, taking into account changes that will have to be encountered over the years, is a solid starting point. Best practices and utilizing out-of-box platform capabilities are further requirements for seamless integration.

Sagar and Paul presenting at WSO2Con USA

Selecting the Right Technology

Both Sagar and Paul believe that an enterprise integration platform is one of the most strategic technology decisions that a business makes. They were looking to build a target reference architecture that was business driven, rather than focusing on a particular technology and evaluated several technology vendors based on this. Macmillan Learning and Ribbonfish considered factors such as platform capabilities, maturity of the product, type of agility provided for developers, quality of production support, costs, and the vendor’s willingness to work closely with a business to solve their particular needs. Both were of the view that WSO2 Enterprise Integrator, with its integration runtimes, message brokering, business process modeling, and analytics capabilities, catered to their requirements.

Achieving Seamless Integration

Given the fact that integration needs at Macmillan Learning were diverse, Sagar and Paul decided on APIs as the de-facto standard for integrating all their systems. They also made sure that there was no direct coupling. Their current architecture includes the Macmillan Learning integration layer composed of WSO2 Enterprise Integrator along with Salesforce. Paul explains that one of their main goals when building the new architecture was to not over complicate things and using WSO2 helped, “One of the big things we really took from it when we selected WSO2 as a platform and service was that there are plenty of solutions within WSO2 itself.”

Paul and Sagar state that documenting the inventory of business processes and interactions contributed a lot to their success, as it helped them to better define their target reference architecture. They also believe that defining their integration techniques, constant communication with their engineering team, and weekly reviews of what they implemented helped them immensely.

More innovation is planned for Macmillan Learning and Ribbonfish. The huge scale of transformation at Macmillan Learning means that there is a continuous demand to meet these requirements. Proactive customer service plays a key role in this transformation. Macmillan Learning and Ribbonfish gain insights from interactions between customer care agents, students, and instructors to improve this transformation process and customer satisfaction. And as mentioned earlier, they will continue to review what they do for the best possible outcomes.

To learn more about how Macmillan Learning and Ribbonfish are working together, watch this video:

Everything you need to learn about WSO2 Enterprise Integrator is here.

Using Open Source Technology to Solve Complex Integration Needs at American Express Global Business Travel

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is a travel and meetings management company, which operates in 140 countries at present. They receive over 3 million messages and make 100 million service calls, all in one day! To effectively deal with the sheer volume of messages and calls, GBT launched Global Trip Record™, a platform that captures all global bookings on various transport companies in one system and functions as their single source of real-time and historic trip data.

A Strong Orchestration Layer: The Need of the Hour

GBT was looking for a strong orchestration layer on which to build this platform. They had an existing legacy system, part of which was a Java application that had thousands of lines of code across different files. For this reason, each redeployment required IT to shut-down, then re-start, the entire system. “No integration is easy and proprietary software doesn’t allow you to change much,” says Pradeep Chintam, software engineer at GBT. “As a developer, I like working with the code everyday. We were also looking for a product that allowed customization together with reliability. Hence, the decision to use WSO2 Enterprise Integrator,” he explains.

Eventually GBT decided on a microservices approach, yet they evaluated the pros and cons carefully first. Pradeep had a lot of questions on how microservices can be used to orchestrate between services, how to proceed with service discovery, and how to perform load balancing and fault tolerance. “When discussing microservices architecture, a lot of people are of the view that you should have smart endpoint and dumb pipes. I honestly don’t agree with that. What do we want from a solution – to follow principles to the letter or an application that functions without glitches? I think many people would choose the latter, no matter how important principles are,” says Pradeep. That was exactly what was done with WSO2 Enterprise Integrator when building their new platform.

GBT has many connecting systems and wanted to enforce a single entry point to their application. Thus, the architecture is built in way that everything connects via WSO2 Enterprise Integrator, and all orchestration between microservices happen within WSO2 Enterprise Integrator itself. This architecture has worked for 2 years to date, without a single instance of downtime.

Pradeep speaking at WSO2Con

The Deployment Model

Every message passes through at least thirty microservices and all the message transformation is handled by WSO2 Enterprise Integrator. GBT scales up their microservices so that they can handle hundreds of transactions and messages per second, but they scale the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) based on their needs. To accomplish this, GBT also also uses Apache Kafka to bring elasticity to the application, as they do not want to overload WSO2 Enterprise Integrator when connecting 30 different downstream vendors.

During the deployment model, the code is first checked into git. The architecture includes a Jenkins server where the build is triggered and it then passes to SonarQube which verifies all vulnerabilities and bugs. It is then packaged to CAR files. A plain ESB image is pulled, customized files are overwritten, and the CAR files are then copied to appropriate folders. After that, the final Docker image is created and published in their Nexus repository. Deployment is triggered in OpenShift which only receives the image tag number. OpenShift will then pull the image from Nexus, deploy it, and is finally ready to serve the request.

Unlike the industry standard, GBT does not use a governance registry in their architecture. As a result, Pradeep limited the number of instances and technologies. GBT uses a custom solution, where they use another ESB project which acts as their governance registry.

This solution is an integral component of GBT’s aim to provide travel management tools that offer millions of customers around the world the best possible travel experience. “The fact that WSO2 Enterprise Integrator is open source and allows for flexibility were big plus points for us. Apart from that, the support has been great. I’ve been using the product for over 6 years and I’ve only raised a support ticket once, which was solved within the day,” says Pradeep.

To learn more about how GBT created Global Trip Record™, watch this video:

Skate to Where the Puck Will Be: How Wells Fargo Created an Award Winning, Customer Facing API Channel

When studying Internet user habits, Wells Fargo came across a surprising revelation – although the amount of time that individuals spend online has leaped significantly over a 16 year time frame (from 2000 to 2016), only around 3% of that time is allocated to browsing about financial services. This got Eric Halverson, SVP, Head of Gateway Support & Services at Wells Fargo, thinking about their existing distribution channel and how it can be improved to provide better experiences for people. For Eric (and Wells Fargo), doing what’s right for customers means not only answering customer expectations, but exceeding them and building relationships that last a lifetime. Enter the Wells Fargo API Gateway, created using our open source WSO2 API Manager. This platform delivers all their products and services to customers’ digital experience of choice and supports all of Wells Fargo’s business units across the company.

Eric Halvorson presenting a keynote at WSO2Con USA 2018

Yet how do you begin to provide APIs to customers all around the world? Upon realizing there were no large banks in the US that had an API platform, a team of 4 from Wells Fargo spoke to banks in Europe and Southeast Asia, in addition to companies in the US who had built API platforms. Following which Wells Fargo decided to expand this particular team from 4 to 150 within six months. They also decided to use agile, and in essence live the agile manifesto, over the waterfall fashion. The API Gateway was launched on September 2016, with 5 APIs and DevPortal 1.0 (the latter was very basic at the time, although it had all the functionalities for integration).

Fast forward to July 2018, Wells Fargo had hundreds of implementations with many customers who are performing multiple API implementations. The platform provides streamlined on-boarding for both new and existing partners, round the clock operations and support, and multiple security layers in addition to the existing risk management controls. They’ve also launched DevPortal 2.0 which bagged a Monarch Award for its creativity and innovation.

Engaging with their community of customers and partner groups takes precedence for Wells Fargo. They’ve repeatedly heard from customers about the difficulties they face when implementing large scale platforms. Which is why from the project’s inception, Wells Fargo went that extra mile to ensure that customers can integrate easily. The fastest onboarding time so far? One day!

Customers and partnerships will continue to be at the forefront as Wells Fargo continues to explore the many API opportunities that are out there. Currently they’ve identified 3 areas of interest: creating API products for wholesale customers, partnerships with 3rd party platforms, and accelerate Wells Fargo integrations with vendor solutions. Eric explains further, “As we gain more experience with our customers and see how our integrations work, we’ll open up to more as we go along. It’s a constantly evolving strategy of trying to be where the puck will be – we want to be where the industry is moving before it gets there.”

Some use cases of the Wells Fargo API Gateway include account aggregation, ACH payments, and foreign exchange. Retail customers are a big beneficiary of account aggregation APIs, as they can control access to their data through a product named Control Tower™ which Wells Fargo introduced specifically for this purpose. Customers can check their account balance and activity data on approved aggregator sites. As the top ACH payment provider in the US, Wells Fargo has built up their transactional APIs to be re-used, allowing customers to move from one experience to another with minimal changes to their resources underlying the APIs. Customers who need to transfer funds internationally benefit from the foreign exchange platform, which is directly connected to customers’ ERP or customer portals. These customers can obtain a foreign exchange quote, book a deal, and settle the payments all in one go. “We’re making people’s lives richer by embedding financial services in the moment they’re at, and delivering services to where the customer is at rather than making them come to us,” concludes Eric.

Watch Eric’s presentation for more details about the Wells Fargo API Gateway.

Learn more about WSO2 API Manager. Did you know? We were named as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: API Management Solutions, Q4 2018 Report. You can download this report here, no details required.

Agile Digital Transformation Strategies and Success Stories at WSO2 Summit

A packed audience of CXOs and solutions architects greeted us at our first WSO2 Summit for the year in London recently! Held in several locations around the world, WSO2 Summit offers C-level executives and architects a valuable opportunity to speak to our leadership, and discuss how WSO2 technology can help organizations create successful digital transformation strategies.

This year’s Summits are held on the theme of enabling organizations to create their digital transformation strategies and put them into practice. Our CEO Tyler Jewell started the event in London with an introduction to the many reasons as to why enterprises can choose the open source WSO2 platform for digital agility. He also gave a brief recap of our performance last year, including the growth of our global customer base and the other exciting initiatives we have planned for this year.

Continuing on the topic of digital agility, our CTO and Co-Founder Paul Fremantle elaborated on why the only competitive organizations in the future will be those that create adaptive digital experiences for their customers. Paul discussed in detail about what he means by an adaptive enterprise, how enterprises can become more adaptive, and the needs of such enterprises i.e. both centralized and decentralized integration, and architectural units of composition. His talk concluded on the point that open source (and open cross cloud) is of immense value in the business architecture of an adaptive enterprise.

Business architecture and the importance of adapting to change also formed the basis of Asanka Abeysinghe’s discussion. Asanka, who’s the VP of architecture at the CTO office, shared the essential guidelines for building a business architecture – understand consumer behavior, seek to create new consumer experiences, select the right channel to engage with them, and take advantage of data to improve these experiences. He then explained how the different WSO2 product capabilities (API management, integration, identity and access management, and analytics) can be used to connect, create, secure, and govern digital enterprises.

WSO2 Summits also feature success stories of enterprises that have used our technology to create digital transformation strategies and innovative experiences for their customers/users. The first of these stories was presented by the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA), on how they used WSO2’s API management and integration capabilities to create myHealth NG application, enabling better interactions between patients and doctors, and thereby facilitating better primary healthcare services for individuals. Brian Muscat, a solutions architect from MITA who delivered this story, recounted the challenges which MITA had to overcome (such creating a secure and scalable application, creating an architecture resilient to change), in order for this project to become successful.

The other success story was presented by Wheeve (a WSO2 Partner), on how they used WSO2 technology to deliver business value for one of their customers in the engineering industry. Jack Hanison, CTO and Co-Founder of Wheeve, described how their customer faced certain data matching issues in several operational areas, which eventually had an impact on their financial reporting, revenue recognition, and overall customer perceptions of the organization. A cloud hosted WSO2 platform was used to overcome these challenges and improve business operations – resulting in cost savings for the organization.

A huge thank you to both Wheeve and Chakray who supported the WSO2 Summit in London as Partner Sponsors!

The Summit may have concluded in London, but we’re heading to Chicago and New York in June, and Sydney and Sao Paulo in October! If you’re in any one of these locations, do drop by to meet Tyler, Paul, and Asanka and discover what WSO2 technology can do for your enterprise.

MConnect: Digitally Transforming Government and Improving Services for Citizens

E-Government platforms are growing in popularity globally and with good reason – when implemented, these platforms help improve transparency, allow data exchange, support data-driven decisions, and lead to cost reduction. In Moldova, the government’s digital transformation agenda and strategy to modernize public services are overseen by the e-Government Center Moldova. This public institution has introduced MConnect – a cloud based interoperability platform powered by WSO2’s Integration capabilities.

“MConnect is the technical solution for the whole framework we do around data exchange in government,” says Artur Reaboi, enterprise architect at E-Government Center Moldova. Artur believes that there are two benefits to data exchange in government – it lowers the number of requests for documents from various government organizations and enables real-time access to data, thereby improving the efficiency of services. From the time that E-Government Center Moldova was initially set up in 2010, Moldova’s government had data-rich registries and the institution’s aim is to use MConnect to link these registries. This process is done via a centralized hub where E-Government Center Moldova is the sole organization responsible for this process, thereby ensuring operations run as smoothly as possible.

E-Government Center Moldova built a National Service Bus, based on WSO2 Enterprise Integrator, which they implemented together with WSO2 Certified Partner iello. Simplicity is a core characteristic of this platform. For example , data providers are encouraged to create generic services, where the National Service Bus is provided with increased data, which is then divided depending on the legal access of data consumers. MConnect consists of the following: interfaces for data consumption and data sources (mediation occurs between these interfaces), the MLog platform based on elasticsearch and has its special connector, and the planned Semantic Catalog (a registry of public data available at various data sources).

MConnect has demonstrated clear benefits since its implementation. Around 30 public authorities (from central ministries) are a part of this platform, and it’s now been expanded to include local public authorities. Artur estimates that E-Government Center Moldova processed approximately 25 million messages in 2017 – which is astounding for a country of 3 million. Furthermore, over 65 web services are in production and it only has an added latency of 100 milliseconds.

“Interoperability is a journey,” says Artur and his single most important piece of advice is that implementation is faster when centralized. Moreover, he encourages implementing generic services, considering the fact that it’s more cost-effective, and building a team of committed integration specialists (willing to stay for the long haul) for a project of this nature. More interesting plans are in the offing for E-Government Center Moldova, which include promoting Interoperability Law, implementing the previously mentioned Semantic Catalog, and modernizing public services to improve service quality for citizens.

Artur’s presentation has more details on the MConnect platform:

Learn more about the capabilities of WSO2 Enterprise Integrator and how it can be implemented in your digital transformation initiatives.

ING Model Bank: Customer-Centric Integration to Remain Competitive

How does banking middleware evolve with the times to offer new services to customers and stay competitive globally? ING Model Bank underwent this transformation by using WSO2’s integration platform to perform key functions, as it sought to ensure information integrity and security, high performance, and superior customer experiences.

Traditionally, banks have big hosts given the complexity of systems and the number of processes that need to be supported. Yet to adapt to customers’ evolving needs (and new services), such systems have to change. Transforming banking middleware stacks begin with identifying three main problems and altering approaches used to tackle them:

  • Oversimplification – avoid oversimplification. Be ready to manage an “in motion” architecture and learn to design for changes (lowering costs in the process as well).
  • Big migration – apart from consuming resources, big migrations freeze an organization’s capacity to respond to customer needs. Learn to design for micro-changes instead.
  • Separating customer needs from technology – customer needs evolve, and technology must support this and processes must be linked accordingly.

A common solution to the above is to use the Bus pattern, which is a mix of the Canonical Data Model and Common Command Set, with a common communication mechanism. Implementing a Bus pattern can be done using either a broker or broker-less approach. While both these approaches have their advantages, they also have several drawbacks such as adding delays and complexity to the deployment. In such a context, Miguel Garcia, an enterprise architect at ING Model Bank, advocates using a hybrid model: “It’s by far the simpler approach.” The hybrid model has the best of both broker and broker-less approaches, and can be deployed in common scenarios faced worldwide. ING uses WSO2 integration technology (WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus and WSO2 Message Broker), by creating one common BUS created on REST and EVENT APIs managing interactions between all applications (or components).

“We use WSO2 as a broker because we really like the simplicity,” says Miguel. By using WSO2 ESB, ING is able to deploy APIs automatically from their development lifecycle using Swagger definitions with zero down-time. Integration is also accelerated by the ESB’s ability to provide API prototyping using scripting. Having successfully transformed using WSO2’s integration capabilities, Miguel also shares some best practices for undertaking similar projects:

  • In-depth knowledge of the product (such as how it manages interactions in complex scenarios) is essential for deriving the best possible benefits from the product.
  • Use the latest version of the product.
  • Use a clear templating system for traceability, monitoring and logging.
  • Clear definition of the common message and its properties to manage messages.

To find out more about these best practices, watch Miguel’s presentation:

Explore WSO2’s integration platform and how your enterprise can derive benefits from it.

A Big Hello to John Saylor, Our New General Manager – Global Channel Sales

We’re delighted to welcome John Saylor to our team as the General Manager – Global Channel Sales. John will take ownership of our partner strategy, as we look ahead to developing a closer alignment with our partner ecosystem and delivering great digital transformation experiences for customers. He’s a passionate advocate of partnering to deliver success for organizations: “More feet on the street provides a market presence and momentum that propels companies forward in the industries as an industry leader that creates market drag for each partner’s solutions – everyone wins,” says John. In building a partner network, John plans to amplify the velocity of partner onboarding of WSO2 solutions, keeping the WSO2 brand intact with a new logo “Powered by WSO2” in solutions that utilize the WSO2 embedded technology.

John comes from a very impressive, diverse, and interesting professional background spanning 36 years. This includes 23 years at Quest Software (acquired by Dell), 11 years at Hewlett-Packard, and 2 years at Western Digital. He later used his expertise to start his own company, working with several technology companies to develop their businesses.

And what does John find compelling about WSO2? Its impressive growth and of course, the people! He’s full of enthusiasm for WSO2: “My attraction was WSO2’s acceleration in the marketplace that’s helping customers adopt a 24/7 cost-effective digital transformation with APIs, events and streams, while also working with software vendors to embed technology quickly, addressing security, governance and identity as well as Open Banking. The brilliant people at WSO2 is one of the biggest assets!”

John’s other big passions include his family, the ocean, travel, live music and sporting events, car shows, and charity events. In fact, if you find yourself in Laguna Beach in California where John’s based, he’d love to show you the surfing, sunsets, music venues, and arts events in the city.

It’s great to have you in the team John!

You can reach out to John on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @JSaylorIII

Creating an Award Winning, User-Friendly Digital Tax Portal Using WSO2’s Integration Platform

The Netherlands has a long history of water management, owing to a significant proportion of its landmass being below sea level. At present, there are 22 regional water management authorities in the country. One such water management authority is Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier (HHNK) which partially relies on citizens’ taxes to carry out its important work. Recently, HHNK created an online tax portal using WSO2’s integration platform, which reduced costs, improved efficiency and transparency, and facilitated a simpler tax payment process for Dutch citizens.

HHNK is responsible for various activities – building dams and dykes, sewage water purification, road safety (as some of these routes are based along dams and dykes), water storage, and crisis management. They engage with 1.2 million citizens and 30,000 companies who pay taxes, has water control assets amounting to 1,000 miles of embankments, 17,771 miles of canals, and overlooks an area of approximately 500,000 acres of land.

The digitization of the tax payment process has its beginnings in 2013, when the Dutch Government introduced a policy stating that all services offered by government agencies must be carried out electronically. At the same time, HHNK was also looking at ways to improve services to citizens. On assessing their technology architecture, they realized that there was minimal integration and a large number of applications (around 400 in fact at the time). HHNK was looking to implement a service oriented architecture (SOA) with decoupling and reusability of services along with a canonical data model. “People accessed data from an application, which was then taken to another application for uploading. This process resulted in errors at times. When there was integration, it was mostly point to point and we suffered a lot of vendor lock-in. By striving to an SOA and loosely coupled applications, we are now far more flexible than in the past,” elaborates Michel Zwart, Enterprise Architect at HHNK.

HHNK’s WSO2 ESB based architecture

The architecture, developed and implemented together with Yenlo (a WSO2 Premier Certified Partner), is comprised of back office applications providing tax services when users log-in to the portal. Specialized applications are in place for communications, archiving, and other services, such as the residence service for information collection. Business application services were built using WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus.

The new system has delivered wins for residents, employees, and HHNK. The portal is user-friendly, not only making the tax payment process convenient for citizens, but encouraging them to make their payments on time as well. The portal is transparent and provides an online statement of accounts for taxpayers. As for HHNK, they have been able to make some big cost savings. Telephone calls have reduced by 25%, saving them around €40,000 a year due to the presence of the online statement of accounts. They have managed to save about €350,000 a year on hiring costs through the reduction of internal resources, and lower banking costs as a result of direct online transfers. Overall, HHNK has experienced a total cost reduction between €400,000 to €600,000 a year.

There is more good news – HHNK even won an award for providing 100% digitally available services. With these successes, HHNK is looking ahead, and there are plans to introduce WSO2’s API Manager into their architecture. “We will continue to innovate with WSO2,” says Michel.

Watch Michel’s presentation below for a more in-depth discussion of how HHNK digitized their tax payment process.

Find out more about how you can optimize business processes, integrate legacy systems, create digital assets, and more with WSO2’s integration platform.