Category Archives: Featured

Bringing an Efficient Home Care Solution to Life with WSO2 Technology

Senior citizens and disabled people—many in fragile health and requiring assistance—often have limited resources for managing their health and ensuring their security. Effective home care solutions allow such people to safely go about their day-to-day lives and enhances their quality of life. To aide home caregivers and patients, Raffaello Leschiera, a solution architect at Engineering Ingegneria Informatica, proposed a reference architecture for efficient home care using WSO2 technology at WSO2Con EU 2017.

Raffaello began by exploring the proposed reference architecture that connected and interfaced with all stakeholders, like the patient, his/her family and medical staff. Firstly, they need to collect data from medical devices in the patient’s home. Protocols like IEEE VU specifications are used and medical devices are mediated using Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards. Once collected, the data needs to be normalized and stored so it’s represented in the same way no matter which device it was collected from.

This data needs to run through analytics to monitor the patient’s health, process events and if needed, send notifications through various communication channels. Data integration channels using the HL7 standard protocol for health care is used to send this data to medical staff. The medical staff can then access it through web and mobile interfaces and an API gateway decouples all features from these user interfaces. And finally, the entire system needs to be synchronized and controlled by identity and access management to ensure security and privacy.

Reference architecture for a home care solution

Raffaello noted that WSO2’s comprehensive technology platform, particularly its integration and analytics capabilities, were the main reasons for picking WSO2 as their technology partner. The open source nature of the products was also a key deciding factor since Raffaello and his team work with many public administrators who prefer to adopt solutions that are completely open source. “WSO2 has a wide technology platform so you can find the right answer to every part of your problem,” said Rafaello. “And because all the products seamlessly integrate with each other it’s easy to focus on the domain problem rather than the technology problem,” he added.

To describe how WSO2 products were used for different tasks, Raffaello compared the home care solution to a football game:

  • Goalkeeper: WSO2 Microservices Framework for Java (WSO2 MSF4J) serves as the goalkeeper. This is the entire back-end of the system, which is based on lightweight microservices that are developed, deployed and monitored through MSF4J in a highly scalable and reliable manner with integrated security.
  • Defenders: WSO2 Data Analytics Server serves as one defender that receives data, analyzes it in real-time, and sends notifications. WSO2 Enterprise Integrator is the next defender who transforms disparate types of data into a normalized format and sends it to the hospital IT systems.
  • Forwards: WSO2 API Manager is one of the forwards, which faces the medical staff and is used to design, prototype and publish APIs and govern API usage. WSO2 IoT Server is another forward, which faces the medical devices for data collection, device management and protocol support.
  • Wings of the pitch: Here the WSO2 Identity Server takes care of all the strict security and privacy requirements.
  • Center of the pitch: Finally, WSO2 Governance Registry serves as the ‘Lionel Messi’ at the center of the pitch; in other words it governs the solution through surveillance just like how Messi would guide and lead his team to victory.
  • For this solution to work, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica needed a remote device that can track a patient’s movements within his/her home. Enter Joe Care (or the Joker pictured above). Joe Care is a remote presence device that is flexible and agile enough to move around the patient’s home. They used various technologies like Arduino boards, software that deals with movement and the sense of space as well handling (touch). It served as the medical eyes, ears, voice and fingers within the patient’s home.

    In the future Rafaello and his team aim to engage with users more, further analyze threat paths and include more technology like wearables that monitor movement and exercise. They would also like to create more intelligent early warning score models and move their entire solution to the cloud so more patients and operators can access it.

    Watch Rafaello’s presentation at WSO2Con EU 2017 below to learn more about their home care solution powered by WSO2.

A Smarter Transport Management System for London with the Help of WSO2

Transport for London (TfL) has a daily challenge – to keep a city of over 8 million people moving around the metropolis. Its magnitude can neither guarantee the transport system will always absorb commuters nor give them a congestion-free experience. It is a place where the smallest of changes would have a massive impact on your journey. Citing an example, Roland Major, a former enterprise architect at TfL, says that a London Underground strike once saw a 3% increase in traffic and a staggering 90 minute increase in journey time. Estimates project a 60% increase in congestion around central London by 2031.

Given all these complications, TfL decided to become more intelligent with technology to reduce commuter times, make the roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, and to slow the pace of traffic. Intelligence and data with a purpose are the buzzwords here. “We need better understanding of real-time demand. What insight can we get from our data, and how can we get innovative with all this information?” says Roland. He was actively involved with TfL’s Surface Intelligent Transport System (or SITS), a project that aims to better manage the city’s entire road space of pavements, cycle lanes, and motorways.

SITS’ business proposition is that it can offer billion pounds’ worth benefit to London by identifying delays in the road networks sooner than it is done at present: “We weren’t detecting incidents, and by the time we have detected them, they were already over. With technology, we can see these incidents early. We recognized that the market can do sensible things with our data,” says Roland. For example, within the traffic light system in London, TfL manages an estimated 7,000 junctions around the city and 14,000 magnetometers detect millions of daily events. This data is discarded after analysis; however, if used, TfL realized that the response time to delays improved by 15 minutes.

TfL has a 10 year plan in place, with all the of different required components mapped out. Data analytics form the core of this operational model. Data is obtained from GPS systems and bus routes. The road incidents are logged and used to determine what additional information is needed to understand and manage each leg of commuter journeys. All the data is hosted on the cloud and currently TfL is in the process of adding these components to the framework.

TfL’s transport management system

London’s new road management system relies on WSO2’s API management, integration, identity and access management, and analytics products for the intelligent work needed. These products are deployed on a private cloud managed by WSO2. The starting point – LondonWorks, a registry of all road works and street related events, both planned and current, in the Greater London area. LondonWorks is used to assess road networks, coordinate the various road works to minimize congestion and for inspection, compliance, and monitoring. Maps and forms of type data have been integrated to allow entry of incidents into the system and their identification on the map.

As their model progresses, TfL has ambitious plans for all the data they have streaming in – big data analytics to give them more insights to road movements, which will enable them to give the necessary alerts and empower them with smarter ways to deliver better, safer commuter experiences for London.

Watch Roland’s presentation for more details on TfL’s plans for London.

Explore the WSO2 middleware platform with its offerings in API management, integration, identity and access management, analytics, and IoT.

Did you know that WSO2 won TfL’s data analytics Hackathon contest? Learn all about it.

Why I Joined WSO2

On Tuesday, it was announced that I joined WSO2 as its CEO. This is an exciting and proud moment as it creates an opportunity to work with the (almost 500) geniuses employed by WSO2 and to engage our customers, partners, and competitors that are collectively contributing to making the massive and growing middleware segment better.

I joined WSO2 because I was inspired by the challenge to help us become a #1 provider in a competitive and technically challenging market.

My first experience with middleware was in the 90s while working at BEA, now owned by Oracle. It was an amazing experience to witness BEA’s transformation from C-based platform (Tuxedo) into the Internet, Java and JavaEE leader with Weblogic. Scott Dietzen, then the BEA CTO and recently the CEO that put Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG) through its IPO, lead BEA’s transformational efforts to create a strategy that leapfrogged BEA ahead of alternatives.

Due to:

  1. The rapid rise of cloud, and;
  2. Rapidly changing consumption models for developers with containers, microservices, serverless, and APIs, and;
  3. The rising complexity from streaming and analytics of real-time event-driven architectures attached to exabyte architectures connected to millions of systems, and;
  4. Corporate core competencies tied to an ability to transform data into insights with machine learning,

we are on the precipice of witnessing a new wave of cloud-scale, cloud-native middleware emerging that will be as significant as the C to JavaEE transformation we witnessed in the 90s. Scott’s achievements are personally inspiring and have no small influence on my choice to undertake this mission.

Leading WSO2 through this transformation is an ambitious, challenging, and exciting opportunity that is something worthy and respectful to the ridiculous talent we have already assembled.

I led Toba Capital’s first investment into WSO2 in 2011 and have been on its board since. Through that time, it became apparent that WSO2’s innovation engine was world class and repetitively produced intellectual property that was faster, easier, and safer superior to alternatives. These advancements are a reflection of WSO2’s internal culture of constant improvement combined with its advanced talent development with university rotations where we now have 132 people (27%) that have or are currently pursuing multiple degrees, master’s degrees, or PhDs.

The rate of innovation combined with an open source business model, customer-first experience, and all delivery functions (support, consulting, training) delivered directly by our engineers has let us establish meaningful relationships with 400 world-class enterprises that represent amazing cross-sections of the global economy managing 5 trillion transactions each year with our technology. Impressively, 25% of our customers come from financial services like BNY Mellon, Credit Agricole, HSBC, and BNP Paribas who have stressed our technology stack to meet expectations imposed by a dizzying array of regulations, security, and performance requirements.

In spite of these achievements, we are the lesser known vendor. While we have near zero churn with our customers who shout our praise and have us as their strategic platform, most describe WSO2 as ‘unknown’, which is a polite way to imply ‘misunderstood’. WSO2 has not conformed to mainstream positioning, go to market, and delivery and most regard us different.
This non-conformance creates tremendous advantages WSO2 passes along to our customers, but not fully appreciated by the rest of the market:

  1. Our team-based, non-commission approach to sales ensures that our customers are always first placed ahead of compensation or the company’s bottom line;
  2. Our 100% open source platform ensures broad community participation leading to better performance, stability, and advancement;
  3. Our delivery through our engineers ensures that customers engage with experts that can fix anything instead of working through layers of management and support abstractions delaying resolution and satisfaction;
  4. We have an efficient operating model that does not depend upon cash from investors, debtors, or the public markets giving us freedom to grow in ways beneficial to our customer’s interests;
  5. Our no-politics and open culture have lead to an industry low employee turnover and rich diversity with 33% female employees and 34% of our leadership positions are held by women.

My most recent venture was Codenvy, which we sold to Red Hat in June. The people at Codenvy made it special and transformed us to the #1 vendor in a highly competitive cloud IDE space. The Codenvy journey was one where we rode the container and cloud-native wave, as the marriage between container-services and hosted developer workspaces were a combination that allowed the growth of cloud IDEs to effectively compete with desktop alternatives pushed by JetBrains and Microsoft.

Containers and cloud-native concepts are redefining the consumption models for how developers work with and deploy middleware. These technologies are causing a middleware rethink, especially in a world where orchestrators like Kubernetes and chaos monkeys scale and destroy unpredictably while the system maintains constant resiliency. For many vendors, talking cloud-native is great marketing fodder, but overlook the reality that their platform will require a reset. Our competitors with proprietary licenses and huge cash burn will struggle to demonstrate true innovation in this space.

With WSO2, we’ve been building a new cloud-native technology stack. Our open source projects include Ballerina (a programming language for integration), MSF4J (a low RAM microservice framework), Carbon (an instant boot server framework), and Siddhi (a streaming SQL framework). Collectively, they are compelling building blocks to create cloud-native middleware for integration, API management, analytics, identity and access management, and IoT.

If you are container-first, serverless, microservices, cloud-native, or developer-first … or you are an enemy to mega cloud lock-in and proprietary business models, then we will demonstrate to you middleware services that can run in any cloud, outperform any vendor, provide rock-solid stability, and backed by our customer-first, engineer-delivered business model. Please engage our team and discover why we are a hidden gem in middleware.

With the amazing people at WSO2 as the backbone, we can and will do with WSO2’s transformation that BEA did with Java.
And for those reasons?—?the people, the challenge, the technology, and the fun?—?is why I joined WSO2.

Time for a CEO Change in WSO2

Getting ready to dance with Ballerina and more with Tyler taking the lead

It is my pleasure to announce that effective today, I have stepped down from my job as CEO of WSO2 and that Tyler Jewell will be taking over. Nope; I am not going anywhere?—?I will remain as Chief Architect and will also become Chairman of the Board. Tyler will be joining the board too, of course.

Tyler Jewell, CEO of WSO2

Tyler is no stranger to WSO2 — he first reached out to me via a cold-call email in November 2010 while he was head of investments in Quest Software. Quest went on to make a $4M investment in May 2011 and Tyler joined our board at the time. After Quest was acquired by Dell, Tyler left and went to Oracle as VP of Cloud and later returned to become a partner in Toba Capital, the VC firm set up by the ex-Quest Chairman Vinny Smith after he completed the acquisition. Tyler re-joined our board then. Later, Toba acquired Dell’s investments including the WSO2 shares and became a larger shareholder. In 2013, after we fought off an acquisition offer, Toba bought the shares of Intel Capital (our first investor) and other shares and ended up as the largest shareholder of WSO2. Tyler remained on our board throughout and was a key part of surviving that acquisition challenge!

In 2013, Tyler also founded Codenvy, became its CEO and built it to become the leader in cloud IDEs and developer workspaces as a service. In June this year, he sold the company to RedHat. After successfully completing the transaction, Tyler left RedHat in August.

Was bringing Tyler on board initiated by our shareholders?

No. I reached out to Tyler, convinced him, then the board members and finally the shareholders that this is the right thing for WSO2.

I am handing WSO2 over to Tyler because I believe that this is absolutely the right thing to do for WSO2 and all its stakeholders; i.e., shareholders, employees, partners and of course our customers.

Why?

Paul and I (along with a 3rd person who’s long gone) started WSO2 more than 12 years ago. We’ve had a pretty good run in these years?—?we now have a 5-product portfolio that offers a superb digital transformation platform, 400+ customers, 490 employees, a recurring revenue business that’s growing really well and one that will be profitable this year. Yes, profitable.

Oh and Dr. Paul’s back as CTO too, after finishing his Ph.D. in IoT Security.

So we’re doing ok. OK, so why now then?

We also have a few additional rocket ships we’re building. However, let me first focus on Ballerina?—?the new programming language we’re creating.

Ballerina will end integration as we know it. It will also dramatically simplify writing microservices. Importantly, it will end the reign of configuration-over-code in enterprise app development and will make code great again. Yeah it’s a big deal.
Ballerina is what I’ve been focusing on for the last year and more. While my Ph.D. was not in programming languages, I have a long history of working on languages and really enjoy the power language creation gives to shape how people think. Ballerina embodies everything that I’ve learned in my nearly 30 years of being in the IT industry and absolutely embodies what WSO2 has learned in the last 12 years of its existence. Yeah it’s serious shit.

Um, again, why?

While I’m pretty good in technical stuff (if I may say so myself ;-)), taking such a rocket ship and positioning it to the market, driving its evangelization and making it win in the marketplace is not where I know I’m the best in the world at. I also know that a lot of that needs to happen in the US, the land where technology trends are created.

OTOH, Tyler is incredibly good at that stuff. (He’s actually pretty damned good (maybe even incredibly good) at technical stuff too .. but he really is incredibly good at that stuff.) Ballerina and WSO2 deserve to have the best in the world guiding its market leadership vision, strategy, plan and execution.

This is absolutely not just about Ballerina either. We have several other rocket ships in our portfolio and more on the way. Plus, our entire portfolio of products really is simply a hell of a lot better than anything else to digitally transform an enterprise. Tyler will, of course, own that too and will help improve the positioning, packaging and marketing of our digital transformation story to get it to market domination status. In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Tyler also understands that this is a massive long term opportunity that he’s taking on. We’re both not in a hurry?—?we have the legs and stamina to take on the market in a marathon and beat them.

That is why I’m leaving as CEO and giving control of WSO2 to Tyler.

What will I be doing?

I’m not going anywhere?—?I will be a having a ball putting 100% of my energy into my Chief Architect role, a title I gave myself a few years ago. In that role I will continue to nurture Ballerina and the rest of the WSO2 products’ overall design, architecture and scope.

At the board level I will be the chairman of the board as well.

Culture, values, Sri Lanka and all that kind of stuff

In the past twelve years I, and really all the people who’ve been part of the WSO2 journey, have built an awesome culture in WSO2 based on a set of core values that are all about doing the right thing for all stakeholders of our mission and oriented towards making the world a better place. Importantly, we’re also a culture that is always learning and always improving both at an individual level (for all involved) as well as at the company level.

It is silly to think that a change in CEO, especially the annoying, opinionated and (apparently, even though I don’t buy it) stubborn founding CEO, will not have some impact on how things will be done.

Culture is of course not a constant. Those of you have been subjected to my various preaching sessions in the last 12 years will remember this quote by Chamath Palihapitiya about culture that I’ve repeated often:

Fight for the culture the way it should be…not the way it was or the way it’s becoming.

So of course things will change, but will only change the way we all make it change.

. . .

I’ve always told people that if you want to be successful you must aim for the stars?—?and maybe you’ll at least land on the moon. The hard work of the last 12 years has us orbiting the moon, ready to slingshot off it and head for the stars.

As the founder of WSO2, I have always given it everything I had. I’m looking forward to continuing to do that and to “come home” to the technical world which I love, to help WSO2 slingshot off the moon and head for the stars.

. . .

It’s been a privilege and an honor to start a company and grow it from birth to a reasonable sized global business with operations in Sri Lanka, UK, US, and Brazil. I’ve learned a few things along the way (e.g., I’m finally able to read a P&L .. but not a balance sheet yet; it’s BS after all) and can safely say I lost no hair doing it.

I’m most thrilled, humbled and proud of the people I’ve worked with. There are so many people who’ve been here through the entire journey?—?basically never leaving after they joined. We have all grown, and not just in years, but in maturity, in smarts and just overall as human beings through the WSO2 journey.

Another aspect I’m very proud of is the more than 100 folks who’ve left WSO2 to go to graduate school. Of that, around 50 have now completed PhDs in Computer Science. I’m very bullish on people getting more and more education (and Ph.D. is hardly the end) and it’s great that so many have done that. And more are on the way?—?and many of the people who have worked in WSO2 for many years have earned PhDs of their own, even though we don’t call them doctor!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has made the last 12+ years amazing, awesome and incredibly educational for me.

. . .

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling sad to give my baby over to someone else. From amongst all the people in the world, I believe Tyler Jewell will do a fantastic job taking this toddler and making it into a teenager!

So actually I’m not sad but excited instead. Excited at the potential we have in front of us. Excited by working with Tyler. Excited at the thought of having more time to be technical and write code again.

Exciting times ahead :-). Good luck Tyler!

Welcome Back Paul: Our old and new CTO!

Paul met Sanjiva back in 1998 (almost a lifetime ago for some!). Their shared vision for the future encouraged them to leave IBM and start up their own open source company — WSO2. They soon ramped up their first project, Apache Axis2, and became one of the most competitive middleware companies in the industry.

Paul has been with us for the most part of our journey but decided to take some time off to work on his Ph.D., something he had wanted to do for quite a while. He now comes back as Dr. Paul Fremantle, our newly reinstated CTO. “He is someone who will challenge you and expect you to challenge him back,” said Sanjiva. So we welcome you back with open arms and are looking forward to being challenged.

Here’s a little bit of what Paul has been doing over the last two and a half years. For his Ph.D. he focused on security for IoT devices. As he pointed out, we feel that buying a device gives us control over our data, but in reality, the control is with the companies that manufacture these devices. During his research and after going through a lot of painful mathematics, he was able to create a new architecture model, OAuthing, which

  • Provides a simple way for you to take ownership of the device through an improved federated identity approach for IoT
  • Creates an instance of the server that handles a device for each user (personal cloud middleware)
  • Enables pseudonymity by not having to share your identity by default

His research directly influenced the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and was even partly used in our own WSO2 IoT Server!

Even with all of this going on, he managed to pick up the hobby of making musical instruments and has now leveled up from crafting ukuleles to mandolins and guitars. He says his current pet project of making a violin (one of the hardest yet) is the complete opposite of software development. In software development, if you make a mistake you can easily learn from it, iterate and fix it. But the smallest mistake in violin-making means you have to start right from the beginning all over again!

“I’ve been trying to learn patience, but I can’t seem to learn it quick enough,” jokes Paul. Glad to have you back Paul. We all look forward to working with you again.

We’re Celebrating Our People This Year!

We turned 12 last month and to celebrate this year we picked 12 amazing humans of WSO2 (by popular vote) and shared their stories. The people at WSO2 are our biggest asset and the drivers of our success. Here are some of those who have inspired us all:

Flora Ariyapala – Assistant Administration Officer

“I can’t pick the best memory. I’ve never had a bad day here. This is family. This is my home,” said Flora with a gleam in her eye while talking about her workplace — one she has been at for the past 12 years. Her stint at WSO2 is what she calls her first “proper” job. From being one of the first employees at WSO2 she has grown to be the person you look for in times of need, very similar to when you look for your mom at home. Be it having all the biscuit jars in our pantry filled, making sure you get a plaster for that scratch or looking after each and every employee like they were her own children (including the ones in their 30’s). Flora has played numerous roles in WSO2 and her unwavering dedication and affection towards the WSO2 family are admirable. We’re nothing but grateful for everything that Flora has done for us.

Nandika Jayawardana – Associate Director and Architect

You come to know a person for who they are when they are under stress or when they are in power. Nandika has been in both these situations at WSO2, mostly at the same time. Yet he’s calm and down-to-earth at all times and never projects his emotions, no matter how frustrated he is. “He’s a person who makes everyone laugh even when they’re panicking about emerging deadlines or in a “war room”,” said his team. As a starting member of the team, Nandika has proven to be a friendly, kind-hearted and knowledgeable person for the past 12 years. For a guy who’s as smart as he is, he’s surprisingly humble. He also knows what it means to be truly empathetic. When it comes to Nandika we’re told that “You surely know that you have enjoyed work life if you have worked with him.”. Thanks for being super cool, Nandika!

Jackie Wheeler – Vice President of Technical Content

Jackie is a thrill-seeker who has a wide spectrum of interests ranging from the Burning Man and bats to karaoke, skiing, and sailing. In addition to this, she’s a self-published author of four novels, a fantastic singer and a black belt in martial arts. Yes, she can kick your a** while singing about our documentation! That’s not all, she even put aside her fear of heights and went skydiving. When asked what her favorite thing at WSO2 was she said “The people. I’ve come to see Sri Lanka as a second home and the team as my extended family. We’ve had too many fun adventures and hilarious times, usually involving tuk tuks.” And we love her too; everyone raves about her leadership and writing skills. You’re a true rock star, Jackie!

Kapila Chandana – Assistant Administration Officer

Often found rushing to the scene of a faulty AC or making sure the lobby is equipped with music by The Chainsmokers or Daler Mehndi, Kapila a.k.a. KC is also a part-time comedian and Superman — in-house of course. Don’t be alarmed if you see him with a hammer or a sharp tool, this brave ex-soldier is your friendly fixer-upper for all things broken. He seems to have an ever-ready thumbs up or a salute and a Tennison Cooray-esque joke every time you greet him. He will gladly be your go-to-man when running an event or an executive business meeting, just to make sure nothing falls apart — it’s almost as if the words “no” or “can’t” don’t exist in his vocabulary. Kapila has nothing but undying love and affection towards WSO2, a place that he refers to as the “talent spot”. He’s even won the outstanding contribution award for 3 years in a row for the three and a half years he’s been here. KC, what a dude!

Asma Cader – Senior Marketing Officer

Asma Cader affectionately known as Aso exuberates confidence, isn’t afraid to speak her mind and stands up for both herself and others. Her bubbly personality is so lovable that people often overlook her constant insults. A lover of all things Disney and Pixar, she’s an avid collector of Minion merchandise and anything fluffy. She even went through a ‘Frozen’ phase where everyone had the pleasure of listening to her endlessly singing ‘Do you want to build a snowman’…for a year! But what she lacks in singing she makes up for in basketball. Her command of the sport makes her one of the best players at WSO2. She also thinks she’d be a suitable mascot for BallerinaLang and is dedicated to making it the most popular programming language out there. Thank you for being you, Aso!

Sumedha Rubasinghe – Director of IoT Architecture

Most of Sumedha’s stories can’t (and shouldn’t!) be shared in public. One that can be shared, however, is the time he convinced a team member to report his height and weight to HR, to attend a company trip! While Sumedha is famously known for his pranks, everyone agrees that he is one of the best mentors around. He identifies his team mates’ talents quickly and encourages them to work on their strengths. Sumedha is an all rounder — he’s a fantastic storyteller, an amazing singer, and conga player, a part-time banana cultivator and an IoT and API guru. The number of tools in his massive pickup truck show his enthusiasm in creating anything cool. Keep inspiring us all Sumedha!

Danesha Unantenne – Associate Lead in Administration

Danesha makes sure everyone at WSO2 is well fed and happy. Not only does she let us choose from fantastic lunch options, she hides in the pantry and eats them too…for testing purposes of course. Her inability to say no has roped her into many games of basketball, a sport she’s slowly warming up to. She recollects her favorite memory at WSO2 as the time she climbed Sanjiva’s (our CEO’s) desk to reach for chocolate stuck on the ceiling. “Fortunately he wasn’t there. He would have kicked me out,” said Danesha. She is the epitome of going the extra mile and is always willing to help you out. Her team overlooks (tries) her extraordinary gift of talking non-stop, loves her open-mindedness and considers her as a ‘machan’ (dude). We’re very lucky to have you Danesha!

Asela Pathberiya – Technical Lead

With multiple titles such as ‘one man army’, an ‘ambassador for the WSO2 security domain’, and ‘father of XACML’, Asela is an integral part of WSO2. He is a celebrity in his own right as the writer of one of the most popular blogs (http://xacmlinfo.org/) in the security space. He is also famously known for carrying a water bottle around whenever he’s overseas (not to drink, but because only toilet paper isn’t ideal). He is a mentor to many and generously shares his knowledge with everyone. Asela has been a devoted employee at WSO2 for the past 8 years and has made it his home. He has quite literally lived in each Sri Lankan WSO2 office (our snooze room and gym showers are very accommodating) and the popular belief is that had he not got married he would still be living at Palm Grove. “Although Asela worked remotely in Finland for a short period of time, he migrated back to Sri Lanka because of his attachment to the company and its people,” said a colleague. He even had a go bag with toiletries in his car whenever he had to work late. We really admire your dedication Asela!

Evanthika Amarasiri – Senior Technical Lead

Traveling from Kiribathgoda? Meet the owner of “(Evan)Thika travels”, a term coined by her colleagues who make use of her carpool service. Evanthika was born to be a mentor and has been a pseudo therapist at WSO2 for the past 10 years. She guides both newcomers and those who’ve been at WSO2 for a while. Her teammates call her their best friend and counselor and she’s known to be a hardcore techie fashionista — not a combo you see often. “The culture is what makes me love WSO2. Becoming the quality assurance lead here was pretty special too,” said Evanthika about her experience at WSO2. She’s always cheerful and is the first person to yell “I’m in” if there’s any fun activity. She gives people due credit and makes sure everyone around her is having a great time. Thank you for being a good sport, Evanthika!

Sriskandarajah Suhothayan – Associate Director and Architect

Suho is the kind of team player that hits home runs. So much so that even his intern project became a hugely successful product – WSO2 Siddhi (CEP engine) – that’s currently used by Uber. “That was pretty memorable,” recalled Suho. He’s well known for his leadership skills and intelligence and is also one of the friendliest guys with the best sense of humor. “Even though Suho’s a busy person, he always helps and advises team members on their problems,” said his colleagues. He often goes on walks where he falls into deep thinking — the faster he walks the more he thinks. Even when he sits down he starts shaking his leg to fuel his thought. Fidget spinners are clearly not for everyone. Despite his excellent work ethic, he’s rather a slob when it comes to his car, often waiting til it rains so the dirt washes off. That’s ok Suho, we get it. Thank you for prioritizing WSO2!

Dimuthu Leelarathne, Director – Solutions Architecture

“She’s one of the pillars of WSO2, is an exemplary lady and everything that WSO2 stands for. Everyone looks up to her, especially all the new female engineers” said one of Dimuthu’s team members. If there’s anyone in the team that has a “never say die” attitude, it’s Dimuthu. She wasn’t raised to be a quitter, which is evident in how she taught herself to swim…online! Dimuthu is a hard working, committed person who brings the best out of everyone she mentors. She’s fun loving and always enthusiastic about trying out new things. You can tell how much her team loves her by the song they wrote for her when she returned from maternity leave. Keep shining Dimuthu!

Sameera Jayasoma, Director – Platform Architecture

“Oka podi wadak (It’s a small job)”, Sameera said. Days into the project, everyone realizes it isn’t. It never is. We’re assuming he said the same about BallerinaLang. All stories about Sameera are R-rated and best kept a secret. We can probably talk about his talents as a cha cha dancer, but let’s not go there. The things he loves most in life can be ranked in this order: Leopards, photography (which he’s extremely talented at), table tennis and then perhaps his wife. He’s an excellent leader who drives his team while looking into every individual’s needs. His vast technical knowledge makes him a great problem solver too. But don’t expect a serious response from this brilliant mind when talking about life, he’ll most likely act dumb and avoid it. Thanks for being the cool smart you, Sameera!

We’d like to thank each and everyone — past, present and future — who have shaped and will shape WSO2 into an exciting place to work in.

Here’s to many more years of hard work and fun!

WSO2Con EU 2017: The countdown for #digitaltransformation begins

The time has come to eagerly await our next user conference in Europe. With inspiring keynotes, in-depth technical sessions, customer success stories and a hackathon, we’ll be counting down to these three days of knowledge-sharing and fun networking events. WSO2Con EU 2017 will run from November 6 – 8 at Royal Garden Hotel in London.

Our user conference is ideal for CIOs, CTOs, architects, integration engineers and developers from all industries who are looking to digitally transform their businesses. We’ve announced most of the speakers and will be adding more customer sessions in the days to come. Check out our agenda for details.

So why should you attend our conference? You will be able to

  • Meet with experienced WSO2 architects who can understand your business goals and technical architecture.
  • Meet other customers who are in different stages of their journey with WSO2 and discuss how they have succeeded in meeting their goals of digital transformation.

Here’s a short clip by Jonathan Marsh, vice president of IoT at WSO2, on what other benefits you can get by attending.

Here are some of the exciting new things at this year’s conference:

  • A dedicated track for Ballerina that deep-dives into how you can use Ballerina for all your integration needs.
  • A hackathon on microservices that will let you get down and dirty with Ballerina and use it for real world integration use cases.
  • The Oxygen Bar gives you the chance to meet our solutions architecture team face-to-face. Request a demo or simply have a meaningful discussion on how WSO2 can help your enterprise innovate.

Also don’t miss out on

  • The opening keynote by WSO2 Founder, CEO and Chief Architect Sanjiva Weerawarana on how you can navigate the digital transformation landscape followed by a series of keynotes by industry thought leaders.
  • Real-world success stories of how our customers used WSO2 to digitally transform. You can expect talks from Travis Perkins, SUVA, Informatica, Finam and more.
  • A keynote by WSO2 Head of Financial Solution Seshika Fernando on the advantages of open banking and how WSO2 can help you help you become PSD2 compliant.
  • Technical sessions on API management, integration, identity and access management, analytics and IoT ranging from high-level introductions to advanced hands-on sessions.
  • A dedicated strategy track specially designed for CxOs that explores how you can address your enterprise challenges with the right technology and strategies.
  • A networking event that will let you mingle with like-minded peers over light music and tapas.
  • A conference after party that will help you cut loose and go wild!

Now doesn’t that sound exciting? If you haven’t registered already, you have until August 31 to get our early bird offer. Get your tickets now and don’t miss out!

Cashing in on APIs – Leveraging Technology to Boost Your Business

Even if you’re not an excessively tech-savvy individual, you most likely would have used a mobile application in your mobile device via an internet connection, used a Gmail client, Twitter, Facebook, or mobile apps, or purchased something online. In a tech world, you’re already reaping the benefits of application programming interfaces (APIs). The use of APIs is becoming even more popular today as service providers are scrambling to embrace the Internet of Things. With the availability of new tracking devices, smart homes, smart vehicles, mobile phones and tablets, consumers now have more options on how they consume applications.

Let’s take a step back and try to understand what this all means. An API is a term that’s used to denote a well-defined interface to access certain resources – in other words a service available to an end-user. If you haven’t worked with web APIs before, you may think it’s a type of service exposed over the Internet to perform certain operations. APIs are the foundation of today’s software engineering industry and enterprises are jumping on the bandwagon to reap the benefits of using them to integrate and automate to make their online services more appealing and user-friendly to end-users. Well-designed APIs will enable your business to expose content or services to internal and external audiences in a versatile manner. Today, most organizations use APIs to build their solutions internally and expose these services to the world at large. APIs will immensely benefit both service development teams as well as service consumers.

A good, yet simple example that illustrates this well is a weather update application that’s available on your mobile device. This application that typically runs on a device will not be able to provide weather forecasts of a specific area without connecting to an external service. However, it can call a GPS device on your mobile device or request the user to retrieve location coordinates of a specific area for which you want a forecast. Once you’ve defined your geographical location, the mobile application can simply call a weather service API and request the required information. What’s important to note here is that you don’t need to perform any complicated tasks, do calculations, or run an analysis on the mobile device. You can simply push relevant parameters to an API and obtain the results you want.

If you view this same example from one level up, you’d see that there’s a client application and a service and both of these are connected by an API. That’s essentially what an API does; it can integrate your services, data, content, and processes with external parties in a very effective and efficient manner. So, what’s the difference between services and APIs? Essentially, the functions of both are the same, but a slight differentiator would be that an API would generally have a well-defined interface to its services. That said, there’s a notable difference between managed and normal web APIs/services. Managed APIs are often enriched with additional features on top of a standard API or service. These are referred to quality of services or QoS. Common QoSs include security, access control, throttling, and usage monitoring. Security forms the foundation any API infrastructure across the entire digital value chain. Malicious users can access your systems the same as legitimate users would, therefore it’s important to enable security at all points of engagement. Usage monitoring helps enterprises to improve their APIs, attract the right app developers, troubleshoot problems and, ultimately, translate these to better business decision.

Boosting efficiency to become more competitive

Enterprises too are seeing the potential benefits of APIs to propel business growth, irrespective of the size and nature of the business and the industry they operate in. The key is to get started now to be able to maintain a competitive edge. A typical example is the extensive use of APIs in the hospitality industry; for instance, the owner of a restaurant or a small hotel would operate a simple website and some internal services. But at some point, when the business grows, they cannot maintain the same internal system and work with external parties. At this stage, business owners would need to think about consuming external services and exposing their services to the external world. And that’s when APIs and API management solutions come into play.

Large, global companies in the financial, transportation, logistics, and consumer sectors have already started to expose their systems and services to the outside world as APIs. The real benefit lies with being able to seamlessly integrate internal systems with those external ones to leverage benefits like creating properly structured services that are synced within the company, e.g. human resources department exposing non-sensitive employee data to other departments that need this information. A typical example is an online retail business that would need a payment solution to integrate with its system. Such a solution would not need to be implemented from scratch, rather the business can expose APIs via already available payment solution providers like Stripe, Zuora, or PayPal.

To explain this further, let’s consider a restaurant owner who can expose menus and ordering services via APIs. This will enable external developers to consume these APIs with their apps and incorporate the restaurant’s menus and services into the travel applications they’re building. When exposing APIs, the restaurant owner would need to consider throttling, a process responsible for regulating the rate at which the application is processing, as well as the security aspect of exposing these APIs. On top of these, a service provider may need some insights into the usage of these APIs – for instance, details about service consumers (like which apps have been invoked more), usage patterns (most popular food types), traffic patterns (peak order times), etc in order to make certain business decisions and make the service more efficient. For this, you might need sort of analytics and usage monitoring capabilities as part of your overall API management solution.

How Internal Services Can Expose Services to External World Via APIs

how internal services can expose services via APIs

Ultimately what you achieve in terms of business benefits is brand awareness by becoming a smart business. Moreover, in addition to profits gained from direct API consumption, users can earn additional revenue by charging users for API/service usage. This concept is known as API monetization and most API management solutions already have this feature in-built as an extension, enabling creative users to turn cool ideas into revenue generating APIs within minutes. And open source products have proved to be most useful to meet all your API management requirements as its cost effective and easy to deploy.

Turning a Software Product Company Into a Cloud Company

From 2011 to 2015 Software as a Service (SaaS) adoption in enterprises grew fivefold from 13% to 74%. The trend still continues with public cloud services worldwide growing by 18% in 2017. With this growth, the pressure to become a cloud company in order to remain competitive is increasing.

We at WSO2 have already gone through the transition and in this blog I would like to share a few experiences and give you some pointers on becoming a cloud company. This will help you to go from being an on-premise business to adopting a cloud and as-a-service model. First, let’s explore why you need to make the move. Being a cloud company brings many benefits for both you and your customers.

Here are some of the customer benefits that we identified:

  • Customers don’t have to pay a lot of money upfront, so the cost of entry becomes low.
  • With the pay-as-you-go model customers don’t invest a lot of money unnecessarily.
  • Everything is already set up by the vendors so customers can go-to-market faster.
  • Customers don’t need to maintain infrastructure and can now outsource their operations including uptime, upgrades, and security.
  • Most cloud vendors care about having APIs and integration points so customers can typically integrate their system with other solutions.
  • Customers can easily scale up or down as required.
  • Web user interfaces are mainly used so they can work from anywhere.
  • Since these are shared deployments customers have an entire community around them that will help find bugs and fixes before they even notice them.

Also, there are quite a few vendor benefits that you can reap:

  • Its cost-effective delivery model lets you address new markets with lower expenses.
  • By enabling a self-service model for your customers you can cater to lower levels of the market as well as to larger geographies.
  • You receive faster feedback on your products because customers will notice any faults and let you know immediately.
  • There is less shelfware because people start using your products much faster and the chances of them buying a license and not using the product at all are low.
  • Because of this you gain recurring revenue and adopting a subscription model rather than a booking model allows you to predict next month’s revenue much better.

Now that you know why you should become a cloud company, ask yourself how this would affect your organization. Moving to an as-a-service model affects every single part of your organization including research and development, operations, security, sales, presales, support, and finance among others.

Research and Development (R&D)

In the waterfall model teams typically work on one big release every year or so and follow that up with a wave of upgrades for enterprise customers. The iterative cloud-first model is much faster. For example, if a product manager identifies a new market segment your team will be able to easily get the new features out in weeks or even days. The feedback they receive will also be faster since people will start using the features as soon as it’s released. This can be a very gratifying experience for developers but if something doesn’t work, they can’t make excuses and blame the customer for not configuring it correctly.

This also impacts testing, upgrading, and troubleshooting. Testing is key. There is lower tolerance if something is not working because it affects everyone using it, not just the client who happens to deploy it first. You need to pay a lot more attention to automated tests, acceptance tests, staging environments and more. Since it’s a shared deployment, teams get access to shared files, environments and servers that allow you to troubleshoot and fix issues faster.

You need to make sure your products are ready for the cloud before you launch them. They need to be able to scale for growing numbers of customers. When I first joined the company, the products were able to run in multi-tenant mode, but when we scaled for thousands of customers we started having issues which we needed to fix.

Usability is another aspect that customers have high expectations for. Cloud users expect a seamless experience that makes it easy for them to understand, configure and use the products themselves.

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Operations

In typical software companies, the extent of operations includes an internal information services team that maintains emails, WiFi, etc. Apart from this they provide a team that goes to customer sites, when the need is required, to help them deploy and fix things.

When you become a cloud business, operations become a key factor. You need to have a team that is dedicated to updating, installing and monitoring your services to make sure they are up and running all the time. Your need to hire or grow a team with a different mentality from traditional development. Pick some engineers who may be in development but have the ops way of thinking. On one hand, it’s very gratifying to know that the systems are up and running and the customers are happy because of you. On the other hand, it’s very different from normal development work where you just write the code and people use it. It’s also a 24/7 role because we now live in an era of globalization where either your customers or your customer’s customers have clients all over the world.

Cloud also increases the visibility of failures. Your customers will quickly notice if something is wrong so you need to introduce new processes for security, postmortems, shifts, and rotation models and implement an alerting system that lets your customers know if something is broken. Monitoring is also key so that you get early warnings and end up preventing a fire rather than putting it out.

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Transparency

That’s why you need transparency. When we first launched our cloud we were not very transparent. When things went wrong, we worked on fixing them but a lot of the times customers would be confused as to whether it’s something they’re doing wrong or if it’s something wrong with the service. We have implemented an uptime dashboard so that all our paying customers can check whether the services are up or down. We have also implemented a notification system that sends an email alert to customers when there is an outage and again when the problem is fixed. They also receive postmortem reports for further insight. When our formal SLAs with uptime guarantees are not met we give our customers credit.

The most important thing is to communicate. Cloud is a services business so you need to be very transparent and let your customers know what’s happening. They need to trust in you and your service, understand how the system works and know exactly what they are getting from it.

Security

Culturally in most industries today, cloud and SaaS is accepted. But security is a key factor for a lot of customers when choosing a cloud vendor. There are compliance factors that need to be in place. For example, if you have payments in the cloud then PCI compliance is a must. You need to conduct audits, have an internal security team and use external security services. You need to use encryption where ever you can.

In general, make sure you document all your procedures. Document the way you work with your software, run the server, etc. We ourselves have a fairly long security processes document that we share with all our customers, which validates to them that we treat security as an extremely important factor.

Source: http://www.zdnet.com/article/industry-cloud-research-security-and-data-protection-is-still-the-most-important-feature-for/

Sales

Currently, you have an existing sales team and existing products that you sell. When cloud comes into the picture, it will have an impact on your sales. You need to consider a few factors with regards to this:

  • Decide whether to let your team sell both the enterprise and cloud products or the enterprise product first and then the cloud as a service.
  • Decide on what the pricing levels should be if your service needs to address lower tiers of the market.
  • Figure out how to protect your larger enterprise sales from being cannibalized.
  • Make sure you offset the old revenue with your new revenue.
  • Give a clear message to your current and future customers to decrease the confusion caused by introducing these new services.
  • Distinguish between the customers who can take advantage of self-service and those who will need more help.

At WSO2, we try to align our pricing for cloud so that even people with lower budgets can use it. Our sales team actively promotes our cloud services to those customers that fit the model best. We get a smaller revenue from these customers but at the same time, we don’t spend as much time and effort to enroll them and customize their solution because of the self-service feature. It’s a win-win because our account managers can focus more on our bigger customers who need more assistance.

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Pricing

You will have to experiment with pricing. We’ve been doing the same. There are three main pricing model: freemium, trial and commercial. Some vendors will offer their solutions for free at certain tiers. In our case, we have a free trial because we found that optimal for the nature of our solutions. Overall, try to make the pricing predictable and easy to understand for your customers. Charge in terms that make sense to your customer rather than based on the resources you spend, but also do your math and make sure you don’t lose money.

Presales and services

How do you go about hand-holding? Is it okay for customers to work in a self-service mode and understand how to use everything on their own, or do they still need help with customizations? You need to be able to distinguish between smaller issues that customers can deal with on their own and bigger projects like customization.

Then, you need to figure out how to serve customers across geographies. What can you automate and what requires human presence? For example, you can embed some tutorials and run automated nurturing campaigns during the trial period so that they can easily understand how to use the service efficiently. You also need to have a way for your customers to request for help, either through a ticket-based model where customer ask for help as and when they need it or on a project-based model where for example, you work with them to create a proof-of-concept.

Support

You need to create a support model that works for you. Will you give a certain amount of community support through user forums? Would you prefer ticket-based support? Will the product team handle support or will you have a dedicated team? These are the questions you’ll need to ask yourself. At WSO2 we have a rotation model for support. The engineers who actually work on the products work in the support team on rotation, so they know exactly what the customers want, what issues they might be facing and how to quickly solve them.

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Finance

Typically for enterprise software, finances are calculated from a bookings perspective. You record it as soon as you get the deal. Cloud follows a subscription model with recurring revenue. With bookings, you can’t really predict the actual amount of revenue you will get. Looking at your monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is a good way of predicting next month’s revenue and how much you are growing.

Average revenue per customer (ARPC) is another important factor to consider. When you grow that figure, it means that you are getting more money from the richer customers, so you can spend more money to attract new customers.

The churn rate is also very important. The lower your churn rate (meaning the customers are happy and stay with you longer) and higher the average revenue per customer – the higher your lifetime value (LTV) from a customer is. If your LTV is higher than your customer acquisition cost (CAC), then you can spend more money on acquiring customers and make more money from them.

Becoming a cloud company has a cultural impact throughout your organization. The factors we talked about previously are all departments and teams in your company. They need to change the way they think and do their work. You can either go into this by creating smaller teams that follow the new model and work beside those that follow the older model and incrementally shifting to an as-a-service model or with a big bang where all your teams are transitioned to the new model at once. I would recommend you to start with some projects and dedicated teams, show their success and expand the team. This way you don’t disrupt any of the existing products and teams but coexist during this transition.

I hope this blog has helped you understand what it takes to moe to the new cloud and as-a-service model. For more information you can watch my webinar on this topic. Good luck!

Nutanix: How WSO2’s Identity Server Enhanced Customer Experience

Nutanix is a leader in hyper converged systems with a mission to make infrastructure invisible by delivering an enterprise cloud platform that enables you to focus on the applications and services that power your business. At WSO2Con USA 2017, Director of SaaS and Tools Engineering at Nutanix Manoj Thirutheri explored how WSO2 Identity Server helped them enhance their customer experience to stay competitive against large vendors like HP, Microsoft and Cisco.

Nutanix provides over 4450 customers across the globe with a hyperconvergence appliance that has storage, virtualization and network components overlaid by an intelligent software layer in order to minimize the need for infrastructure. “Customer experience is the last mile of digital transformation,” Manoj said while stressing on the importance of creating an integrated ecosystem of customers and partners to be successful. They currently maintain multiple web portals for customer support, partner support, and the community. One of their top priorities is to make customer experiences as simple and seamless as possible. They needed to create a more seamless sign-on experience for their portals and mobile apps to maintain growth.

Because of the speed at which Nutanix was growing, many identity silos existed, which meant the same customer was identified in multiple ways. They had non-standard and insecure authentication and authorization mechanisms in place which made them vulnerable and hindered their user experience. Furthermore, their ability to be agile and innovate fast was deterred by the proprietary technology they used, which was not open or extendable. “The bottom line is, we didn’t know what our customers or partners were doing. We were lost,” notes Manoj. Having a 360 view of their customers’ activities and keeping track of them across the different portals were key requirements of their solution to these challenges.

As shown in the diagram below, Nutanix used WSO2 Identity Server to overcome their major identity and access management challenges. Manoj then explained the architecture from the bottom up. The highly available WSO2 Identity Server cluster is load balanced across multiple regions for high redundancy. Next, they built an intelligent API layer, which exposed all the APIs including user management, tenant management, service provider and identity provider APIs. By doing so they avoided vendor lock-in and didn’t couple their functionality to any technology, be it open source or proprietary. The third layer consisted of their own entitlement system called My Nutanix where customers and partners register and access the service providers. The green boxes at the top depict the service providers including the following:

  • The customer portal enables customers to access the services offered in My Nutanix.
  • The partner portal allows partners to perform deal registrations among other things.
  • The community portal is open source and can be used by anyone. Here, they use WSO2 Identity Server to authenticate the users through basic OAuth over Transport Layer Security (TLS), which allows them to track the users and gain new customer prospects.
  • They also have the educational and training portal in addition to many other service providers that are still in development.

Nutanix currently uses many industry standards for authentication including OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, and SAML 2.0, which are all supported out-of-the-box by WSO2 Identity Server. They also use WSO2 Identity Server for Just-in-Time (JIT) provisioning of users. Nutanix performs SMS-based multi-factor authentication (MFA) by using WSO2 Identity Server connectors to integrate with Twilio, which allows you to programmatically send and receive text messages using its web service APIs. In addition, they integrate with their partners through the Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) provided by WSO2 Identity Server.

Apart from these implemented features, Nutanix is working on leveraging more capabilities of WSO2 Identity Server. They will soon bring in multi-tenancy because every customer has their own tenant with their own isolated roles. They will also experiment with a service-based authentication, a fairly new concept to them, which uses certificates to authenticate the user and creates the service accounts within WSO2 Identity Server. As Manoj states, “Two services, no human interaction”.

Having a product that is open source, supported multiple security protocols, and can scale was key. WSO2 Identity Server met all these requirements. WSO2 Identity Server helped create a seamless single sign-on experience for their customers, partners and prospects, while keeping track of all their actions. A key advantage that helped sustain Nutanix’s rapid growth was WSO2 Identity Server’s high scalability and availability and its ability to support a rapid increase in the number of users from 1000 to 100,000 in just two years. It met all of Nutanix’s requirements including out-of-the-box support for many standard protocols, multi-factor authentication (both SMS-based and Google authenticator), identity federation, multi-tenancy and tenant management. Furthermore, Nutanix also used WSO2 Managed Cloud, which provides excellent support.

“We now have a bunch of happy customers and partners. We ourselves are also very happy with WSO2 Identity Server,” Manoj added.To learn more about how Nutanix leveraged WSO2 watch Manoj’s talk at WSO2Con USA 2017.