Category Archives: News

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!

Retailers optimize multichannel IT implementations

From the simple setup that involved using a TV and a domestic telephone line, e-commerce has greatly evolved since its introduction by Michael Aldrich in the late 1970s. Today it includes more innovative ways to shop online including mobile devices as well as connected stores.

In order to keep pace with the growing demands of today’s customers and partners, retail businesses need to deliver connected and personalized experiences across stores, the web, mobile and social channels. Becoming a connected enterprise helps to offer these experiences to consumers.

For the enterprise, a connected retail business will help to increase the reach of the business, explore and discover new business opportunities, and increase revenue. But that’s easier said than done. The complexity of the IT landscape, which consists of multiple disparate systems linked together and exposed through several interfaces and channels, pose many challenges.

Kasun Indrasiri, an architect at WSO2, authored the white paper “Connected Retail Reference Architecture,” that discusses the importance of creating a connected retail system today and explains how a complete middleware platform can help address these challenges and meet the demands of multichannel retail IT requirements.

Here are some insights from his white paper.

Among some of the key hurdles an enterprise would need to overcome to become connected is to develop transparent, collaborative, and real-time supply chains through seamless interaction with all systems to optimize underlying inventory stores. Managing multiple channels through which data and sales management are performed has also become extremely difficult due to its large scale.

To this end, a retail enterprise can adopt a comprehensive solution that will connect the dots and eventually facilitate the creation of a fully functional ecosystem. This ecosystem must contain various layers including an integration layer that allows merchandising, order management, supply chain, and distribution systems to communicate with each other. It should also have an API management layer that will be used to expose functionalities directly to customers and external users while business analytics in the analytics layer will be used to gather insightful information that’s key and relevant to the business.

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A successful connected retail enterprise will seamlessly connect, manage and control its service layers, underlying web services, and all other business services.

An architecture such as this can help create a rich customer experience through fast delivery and checkout procedures, manage multiple channels through which data and sales management are performed, and seamlessly upload price updates so that it propagates to all parts of the retail ecosystem.

To learn more about how products within the comprehensive, open source WSO2 enterprise middleware platform can be used to meet a retail enterprise’s IT requirements, you can download Kasun’s whitepaper by visiting http://wso2.com/whitepapers/connected-retail-reference-architecture.  

 

WSO2 named as Cool Vendor by Gartner!

Gartner has just named WSO2 as a Cool Vendor in The Internet of Things Analytics, 2016 report.

What does this mean?

Gartner’s IoT Analytics report examines what things vendors are doing in the IoT analytics space. ‘Cool Vendor’ is their designation for vendors that are particularly innovative. “WSO2 is one of the few open-source IoT analytics vendors with an end-to-end IoT platform, extensive application integration capabilities and state-of-the-art analytics features,” reads the report.

We’re grateful (and humbled) to be named here. We’ve been named Cool Vendor eight years ago for our Mashup Server product, but this one’s all for IoT analytics. Let’s drill down into what we’re being recognized for.

Our overarching analytics platform WSO2 Data Analytics Server (DAS), with WSO2 Machine Learner and WSO2 Complex Event Processor available for those who need only a specific subset of DAS’s full functionality. WSO2 DAS can handle all of the needs of IoT analytics – from batch to streaming to predictive analytics to visualization to alerts. These offerings are available as downloads to run on servers, can be run on the cloud on a PaaS and in virtual machines, and we can even host and manage the service for you.

Our strength comes in how well these three integrate with other products to form an IoT platform that can adapt to your needs. As Gartner notes, “the IoT platform uses traditional WSO2 application integration capabilities, including the WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus, adapters to a wide range of platforms and applications, the WSO2 API Manager and other capabilities.” Iot server, which spans all IoT related capability, is also on the way. It handles device management and many others and folds into the rest of our platform – of course, everything’s open source.

Of course, you needn’t take our word for it. Gartner’s report is readily available at https://www.gartner.com/doc/3314217/cool-vendors-internet-things-analytics. Do pay them a visit and see exactly why they chose us as cool vendors. To learn more about analytics “on the edge”, as it were, visit http://wso2.com/analytics and http://wso2.com/iot to see what we can do for you.

Transform Your Enterprise IT: Integrate and Automate

Most enterprises deal with a variety of common IT problems to which they would find quick fixes. One such example is the need to maintain five different usernames and passwords to login to five different systems. Another typical example is the closing of a sales deal – the sales department would conclude the deal and ensure the goods are delivered; this would be updated on the sales records, however, when the finance department reconciles invoices against sales at the end of the quarter, there might be mismatches because the invoicing process was missed.

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To address these issues, most enterprises will use a combination of basic IT and collaboration software to manage day-to-day requirements. And over time, these requirements will change, prompting a slight shift in the enterprise’s IT landscape too. This may result in a situation where different teams within the organization will find the most efficient ways to carry out tasks and meet their IT requirements with the use of packaged software, possibly by building their own, or even subscribing to more SaaS-type offerings.

While this might temporarily fix specific problems, it will pose long-term challenges as such measures are often not pre-planned or do not follow a particular IT roadmap. The actual negative effects of individual teams working in silos would only be felt when the company starts to grow and the use of various systems increase as well. Eventually, the use of several systems that don’t talk to each other will cause operational issues and even hurt motivation among employees.

The recurrent problems with these multiple systems working in silos include extensive manual effort, errors, blame, rework, frustration, complaints, and the need to manage multiple passwords. These in turn result in inefficiencies.

To address these challenges, the enterprise needs an easy-to-implement, cost-effective solution. There’s no guarantee though that there would be a plug and play type of system or one that could be customized to meet the enterprise’s exact requirements. The enterprise would seek a unique, bespoke solution that would either mean they change the way they work with existing software or rethink the software itself.

The most viable option would be to integrate the systems (which, of course, have proven to be efficient to meet a specific requirement) used by different functions and then explore some sort of automation that will provide relief to employees.

WSO2’s highly-acclaimed open-source middleware platform has the capabilities that enable seamless integration of IT applications, thus streamlining day-to-day business activities of a given enterprise. This in turn will boost efficiency and integration across business functions and teams and improve overall productivity as well.

For instance, WSO2 Identity Server (WSO2 IS) can define an identification for a user in a particular organization, enabling him/her to log into multiple systems on-cloud or on-premise with a single username/password.

The enterprise too will benefit as WSO2 IS offers provisioning capabilities that allow your IT to register and auto-provision new employees across multiple systems as well as easily de-provision them when they leave the organization.

WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus can meet all your integration challenges with its capability to connect various systems that speak different languages. It also comes with a defined set of connectors to further support integration of systems, be it on the cloud or on-premise.

Once all of your systems have been integrated, you can leverage WSO2 Data Analytics Server (WSO2 DAS) to pull reports from different functions within your organization and automatically collate data that will translate to valuable information required to make business decisions. WSO2 DAS has in-built dashboard capabilities that will automatically create and publish dashboards on a real-time basis.

Moreover, all WSO2’s products are 100% open source, which gives enterprises the freedom of choice and empowers the business with limitless possibilities to expand.

Learn more about WSO2’s comprehensive and open platform for your connected enterprise.

For more details on how to establish friendly enterprise IT and get more love from your team, watch this talk by WSO2’s VP Operations, Shevan Goonetilleke.

Modern Solution Development: The Battle Between ‘Retaining’ and ‘Changing’ Technology

In today’s fast-paced technology world, change is constant and rapid. New concepts continually emerge, gain traction, disappear, and reemerge. While it’s important to embrace this evolution, core concepts that work in older technology should not be tossed out either.  

During his closing keynote at WSO2Con USA 2015, Dr. Donald Ferguson – former vice president and CTO of Dell, identified concepts independent of the specific technology realization in order to highlight requirements that current technologies don’t meet.

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He noted that although concepts such as loose coupling, service delivery, and asynchronous messaging have been used for various different technologies like common object request broker architecture (CORBA), Web services, and service-oriented architecture (SOA), each of these is just an improvement, yet based on the same ideas. “The key thing when going forward is to make sure that we don’t loose some of the things that we managed to bring forward because they were good,” he adds.

He explains these similarities, improvements, and limitations are apparent when comparing SOA to microservices for instance; features such as programming style, code type, messaging type, and the use of databases are similar in both concepts whereas there are certain important distinctions in means of evolution, systematic change, and scaling. “It’s more about how you do it – the internal architecture, than the externals. With one exception – smart endpoints and dumb pipes” says Ferguson. This concept encourages the microservice community to use a light-weight message bus (a hub) that acts solely as a message router and leaves the smart part of things (receiving a request, applying appropriate logic and producing a response) to the service itself.

But as Ferguson states, “You don’t want just a hub, you want it to be active”. If you open any book on enterprise application design patterns, they first show you what not to do – a monolithic point-to-point architecture. To avoid doing this you need to connect everything through a hub that needs to be able to reformat, route and combine messages as well as understand different protocols and data types that will travel across it. This is where middleware, or specifically the enterprise service bus (ESB) becomes important.

Ferguson notes that dumb fast messaging seems more appealing than using a powerful ESB but it just repeats the fallacies of quick point-to-point connections. Using an active hub and taking advantage of middleware to do it is much more advantageous because it adds value and improves robustness, reusability and scalability.

He further adds that any organization can realize tremendous value from microservices and other new technology; however, this could sometimes result in the risk of losing benefits like interface dependency and optimized composition that emerged in the past. “This needs to be done through application design patterns and middleware that empowers them…that’s part of the value WSO2 is,”he concludes.

WSO2’s complete middleware stack includes the WSO2 integration, API management, security and analytics platforms. By leveraging these components and more you can easily develop modern solutions despite what technology you use.

To learn more, watch Don Ferguson’s presentation at WSO2Con US 2015.

 

How you can Increase Agility and Expandability with Event Driven Architecture (EDA)

From ordering your favorite kind of pizza or a taxi to manufacturing and financial processes, everything is event driven today. People expect to do everything immediately, get instant feedback on the status of their request, and interact in real-time with anybody involved in the process.

John Mathon, the former vice president of enterprise evangelism at WSO2, wrote a white paper which explores how you can keep pace with these demands by implementing event driven architecture (EDA) in your enterprise.

EDA is essentially a messaging system that notifies interested parties of events that occur in order for them to benefit from it. The publish/subscribe model was implemented in the earliest real-time event-driven systems. Anonymity, discoverability and guaranteed delivery were a few of the characteristics that made it popular.

But this simple model deemed insufficient for the demanding and varied needs of subscribers, notes Mathon. Here came the rise of the enterprise service bus (ESB), which standardized enterprise integration patterns, the business process server (BPS) which allowed messages to trigger business processes that dealt with events and business activity monitor, now named data analytics server (DAS), to monitor the health of enterprises through statistics.

These tools became standard components in an EDA and are useful even today, which is why IoT is reusing pub/subs all over again.

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The easiest, fastest and most efficient way of implementing EDA in your enterprise is to incorporate already existing event-driven technologies. You may think writing dedicated software would be more cost efficient and cater more to your specific needs, but in the long run the cost of maintenance would be over a dozen times more than the initial cost of development.

Existing tools are designed to increase performance and reliability of your system. It’s also easy for non-programmers to use because of features such as drag-and-drop components. They can handle large loads and are robust, secure and resilient to failure.

You can choose a specific tool for a specific problem. For example, long-running processes use BPS and short-running ones use message broker (MB). Also, when the tools are combined together it can provide additional power by working together to achieve one goal.

The problem with combining tools is that they can each be large monolithic entities that require significant communication bandwidth and can cause increased load on servers. WSO2 solves this problem because all the tools you require are built as light-weight components with the same base framework making it possible to combine them in the same Java runtime.

When implementing an EDA you need to keep in mind the message flow rates and the characteristic of the message flows. Make sure not to create extremely large messages or do a lot of computation during processing. You also need to consider whether you will be designing for microservices; your architecture design depends on this. API management is another key factor that you need to keep in mind. And lastly, you need to know which tool to use for which job.

WSO2 offers a full suite of open source components for EDA to implement highly scalable and reliable enterprise grade solutions. This includes a complete middleware stack, which includes the WSO2 integration, analytics, security and API management platforms.

For more details download John’s whitepaper here.

Connected Finance: Unleashing the True Potential of Finance with Technology

Evolution in technology has made customers more demanding, and at the same time, created new opportunities for financial institutions. The meteoric evolution of technology has prompted customers to look for quick and convenient ways to carry out banking needs, making mobile and online services popular. Financial companies need to make sure that they can deliver these services independent of location in a secure manner. It has also become compulsory to accommodate mobile payments and virtual payments in the connected finance ecosystem, resulting in a complex IT landscape.

Enterprises in the financial industry recognize the importance of delivering these needs to remain competitive; however, the challenge is to build a real-time system that centrally connects everything. Services and APIs are used to seamlessly connect the various backend components to build a robust connected ecosystem.

Asanka Abeysinghe, VP of Solutions Architecture at WSO2, recently authored a white paper – Connected Finance Reference Architecture – in which he discusses the significance of creating a connected finance system. He also explains how a middleware platform can be used to address each and every challenge faced at implementation.

Here are some highlights from this white paper.

The connected finance architecture will primarily facilitate regular, day-to-day functionalities, as well as call center-type functionalities, virtual payments, credit card payments and payment gateways. It will also make the vast amounts of data centrally accessible, allowing decision makers to gain business insights via customized reports and dashboards.

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Given the sensitive nature of the industry, this aspect is important and needs to be addressed properly. For this, the architecture should connect all the systems and ensure all security measures have been incorporated. Each and every transaction should be closely monitored while ensuring all transactions flow through the same layer allowing the company to  monitor, manage, and govern financial transactions.

In addition, Asanka explores the role of event-driven architecture (EDA) in the connected finance ecosystem along with an architectural pattern for monitoring gateways. He discusses how WSO2’s complete cloud architecture enables enterprises to implement a hybrid deployment that complies with the tight regulations of the financial industry.

For any financial company, becoming a connected business will help to provide customers a better service as well as enable them to become more efficient and profitable overall.

For more details on the Connected Finance Reference Architecture, download and read the white paper here.

Introducing WSO2 Gateway Framework – A Slight Change in Course Post Alpha Release

In November 2015, we announced a high performance, lightweight, and configuration-driven message gateway – WSO2 Gateway – based on standard gateway patterns. We made available an Alpha version with a plan to announce general availability this year. This product provides fully decoupled protocol handling layers and message processing layers, making it easier for users to configure messaging behavior at each layer independently.

A few months later, and as we progressed with our GA release plan, we realized there was a broader need and changed our strategy to instead use this component as a framework for all WSO2 integration-based products: the gateway framework will become the core of other gateways, such as the API gateway of our API management offering, and power the next generation of our enterprise service bus.
The original gateway code is still accessible on GitHub.