Tag Archives: Analytics

WSO2Con Insights: Transforming the Ordnance Survey with WSO2’s Open Source Enterprise Middleware Platform

The British Ordnance Survey officially began in 1791.  Unofficially, it began some years before, when King George II commissioned a military survey of the Scottish Highlands. The work never really stopped. Today, over two hundred years later, Ordnance Survey Ltd is Great Britain’s national mapping agency: a 100% publicly owned, government-run company that’s one of the world’s largest producers of maps. They’re in the Guiness Book for the largest Minecraft map ever made – an 83-billion block behemoth that boggles map-makers around the globe.

Over the centuries, Ordnance Survey produced and sold some of the finest paper maps in the business. However they soon had a problem: people didn’t buy maps anymore. People downloaded maps. People accessed maps on a website. They just weren’t huge fans of the print and CD maps that the Ordnance Survey produced day in and day out.

The fault in our maps

Of course, the OS had to evolve. To solve the problem, they realized they had to move beyond retail and into selling data maps. The OS has a database called MasterMap, which is possibly the largest geospatial database in the world; it contains maps accurate to a single centimeter, updated some 10,000 times a day, underpinning some £100 billion worth of business activity in the UK alone. The OS wanted to make this database accessible. They needed a way to sell this data over the Internet; they wanted delivery mechanisms and a strategy.

The OS had been introducing technology to the map-making process since the 70’s, but this challenge was different. Their maps had to be supremely accessible – web pages, mobile phones, even someone on the highway looking for the next gas station, should all have to be able to access Ordnance Survey data without a fuss. They needed a system that understood context – the user on the smartphone might be using an official OS app for it; the user on the highway might be using something installed by the manufacturer or dealer who sold them the car; all of them would have to be treated and billed accordingly.

To do all this, they needed a robust API management solution that could recognize context, run the request into a system and deliver an output very, very fast.

Which is where WSO2 came in.

The wheels in motion

Initially, the OS worked with WSO2’s competition – Apigee. Apigee had a good APIM system, but they weren’t as good as the WSO2 platform in connecting to everything else. The initial QuickStart program proved WSO2 could do everything they wanted: within just two weeks, the OS had a POC system on their hands using WSO2 Complex Event Processor, WSO2 Identity Server, WSO2 API Manager and WSO2 Business Analytics Monitor, connected to Magento, which the OS was using.

WSO2’s comprehensive platform made everything significantly easier for the Ordnance Survey. Since the products integrated perfectly with each other, they no longer needed to look at many different vendors for everything they needed.

“When evaluating the vendors, we were looking for flexibility, we were looking for a willingness to get involved, to share information – to be on our side, I guess – and we were looking for a rich resource. Not a single product vendor with a range of products that would meet our needs,” said Hillary Corney, of the Ordnance Survey at WSO2Con Eu 2015.

The Ordnance Survey also liked the fact that WSO2 provided open-source without a premium price. Because Magento was also open source, and they had complete access to the code of the WSO2 solution, the OS team could very tightly integrate the two via SAML and SCIM.

“WSO2 is an open source platform, which allowed us to experiment early and learn in-depth without going through a complex procurement process, because in the government we have to go adhere to the EU tender process. And it’s a rich suite of products, which gave us confidence and allowed us to meet whatever circumstance we came up against,” added Corney. “The value add is really the speed of development; the fact that it’s open-source allows us to integrate, to customize it and bend the source code to our requirements in a way that’s not possible with straightforward off-the-shelf software. So I think that’s the biggest value for us – the flexibility.”

Ordnance – and the fact that it’s public sector – brought with it its own set of insights for WSO2 – especially in how public institutions work and the moving parts involved. As the engineers at WSO2 got used to these processes, we developed ways to get the project rolling without inflating the price, and WSO2 delivered exactly as promised. The Ordnance Survey is now working on not one, but two API delivery production environments with WSO2 software.

“The WSO2 team were embedded in our trenches, and the overall impression was that they really knew their stuff. It was one of the fastest proof of concept builds we’ve ever had; at the end of two weeks we were able to demonstrate almost everything – from start to finish.”

For further information on Ordnance Survey’s open source journey see Hillary Corney’s presentation slides at WSO2Con EU 2015.

WSO2Con Insights – AlmavivA Adopts Lean Approach to Public Administration with WSO2

The Italian Ministry of Economy was looking for a complete transformation in data management by redefining and organizing its own data, so that information of millions of employees of the Italian Public Administration would be unique and certified.

The proposed system spelt the integration of two main IT systems in the Ministry; one that handles personal data, and a second that handles economic data, so that the system would have one single point of management, and serve applications regarding salaries and personal data as a self-service for the Italian public sector employees.

The Ministry approached AlmavivA Group, Italy’s number one Information and Communication Technology provider, for a solution. Guiseppe Bertone, Solution Architect at AlmavivA S.p.A. said during his session at WSO2Con 2014 EU, in Barcelona, Spain that AlmavivA designed and proposed an ad hoc master data management (MDM) solution for the Ministry, based on WSO2 products to manage the data of 2.6 million employees.

Picking the Best Product Solution

He said that there was a set criteria that AlmavivA and their client listed out prior to choosing the right products and platform for the project. Some of the critical features were interoperability with existing IT components, high modularity, optimized for performance, and most importantly, open source. Comparing pre-built product solutions available in the market, Bertone and his team made a decision to use WSO2 products for the entire solution.

“WSO2 products fit the requirement. You can enable only the components that you need, and leave the rest of it out, unlike in pre-built solutions,” he said.

He added that there were many redundant repositories within the Ministry IT systems; datasets needed to be optimized and integrated with external systems, and a migration workflow for the existing data had to be defined.

The reference architecture for the MDM solution included interface, events, security, and data quality components, as well as the repository layer, which consists of four databases; master data, metadata, historical data and reference data.

The AlmavivA project ‘Anagrafca Unica’, roughly translating to ‘Unique Repository’, was initiated in March 2012.

The WSO2 Advantage

The mapped reference architecture was a total solution platform based on a set of WSO2 products;

WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) for interface services, the WSO2 Data Services Server (DSS) to access the repository layer and manage all life cycle services, WSO2 Identity Server (IS) as the security and identity component, WSO2 Message Broker (MB) for communication between applications, WSO2 Governance Registry (G-REG) to store configurations of all components, and the WSO2 Business Activity Monitor (BAM) to monitor services across the entire MDM solution. OracleDB is used as the repository layer.

With BAM being easily integrated to other WSO2 products, AlmavivA simply had to install only a specific BAM load inside each component, so that the statistics and real-time performance could be monitored. An additional console was added as an UI for the system’s custom procedures.

Another advantage of using WSO2 products was brought to light during the development stage; “Many aspects of WSO2 products can be simply configured from the web UI, or the developer studio for all WSO2 components. It’s really useful and easy to use,” explained Bertone.

In a covalent situation such as this, WSO2 deploys Carbon Apps. By creating a carbon app, a single file consisting of all components is created, so that once the file is deployed, the server knows which components to take, according to Bertone. “This is useful because once you have a system like this you can integrate it with an application cycle management solution already present in the customer environment, like we did,” he says. “We have now created a console where with a single click, the customer can pass from staging to production.”

AlmavivA is looking to expand Anagrafica Unica across the country to include all employees of the Italian Public Administration sector in the system, bringing the total user count to 3.5 million. Bertone and his team are also looking to serve data to external systems, such as the Ministry of Health, with more government institutions being added along the way.

For more information on AlmavivA’s development of the Master Data Management System, view the recording of Bertone’s WSO2Con EU presentation.

WSO2Con Insights – West Interactive Solves Multichannel Communications Challenge With Cloud Solution Powered by WSO2 Carbon Middleware

As the leading provider of technology-driven communication services, West Interactive has developed and managed large-scale, mission-critical transactions for clients’ communications needs for more than 25 years. However, Pranav Patel, West Interactive vice president of systems development, explained in a presentation at WSO2Con US 2013, past solutions deployed by the company weren’t flexible enough to support today’s dynamic business needs.

For West Interactive, the solution was to create West Connect, a cloud solution powered by WSO2 Carbon middleware that enables organizations to provide an improved, personalized experience for their customers.

The Multichannel Challenge

The primary business of West Interactive is to provide contact center solutions, which include cloud-based interactive voice recognition (IVR) and speech automation, mobile applications for customer care, and a hosted contact center—all based on carrier grade, scalable and reliable platform. The company now handles some 4 billion minutes of customer engagement annually.

“Today’s challenge is that there are multiple channels available,” Patel observed. “It’s no longer just a phone call or an IVR that people use to get in touch with your enterprise or customer care.  You have mobile apps, text messages, social media, email, the Web—and enterprises have to manage those and provide customer care solutions across all these channels.”

Patel then explained that, because today’s consumers demand anytime and anywhere access to data and services, across more channels of communication than ever before, it is not enough to simply provide the channels.

“These channels have to be wholly integrated,” Patel said. “The systems that provide these should be very intelligent—that’s the business challenge at hand.”

In seeking to address these business demands, West Interactive realized that the solution would rely, not on extending its existing legacy systems, but by taking advantage of a service-oriented architecture (SOA) based on modern middleware technologies.

West Connect for Modern Communications Demands

The resulting solution was West Connect, a cloud-enabled middleware platform based on a SOA, which is equipped with a set of technologies and core services that are open and flexible. It sits between the top layer of the architecture where there are applications across different channels, and the West Manage API services below, which is where the company can expose services or APIs for customers to use.

Describing West Connect, Patel noted, “The vision here is to build several services on top, as it provides for multichannel communication, multi-tenancy and services like identity management, context awareness, analytics, notifications, rules engine, and more.”

West Connect is based on several products within the cloud-enabled, fully multi-tenant and 100% open source WSO2 Carbon enterprise middleware platform. These include WSO2 Application Server, WSO2 Data Services Server, WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), WSO2 API Manager, WSO2 Identity Server, WSO2 Governance Registry, and WSO2 Business Activity Monitor (BAM)

In describing the roles of the products, Patel explained that, “The API will need WSO2 API Manager and Identity Server for exposing the APIs out. West Connect is essentially WSO2 ESB, Governance, and BAM. A lot of the services reside on the Application Server, and when you talk to databases you use the WSO2 Data Services Server.”

The WSO2 Advantage

Patel recounted the factors behind West Interactive’s decision to work with WSO2; “We wanted something we could do a POC with, that would start out quickly and wanted a low cost of entry. The flexible, pluggable architecture made it even much better; we can choose and pick only the products we want. And a low infrastructure footprint—we can run several of these products on a VM.”

WSO2 API Manager was also a major selling point for Patel. “API Manager really gives our business the ability to go outside, not just internally, cataloging the APIs and providing the APIs with documentation as part of the API store.”

Looking ahead, West Interactive is evaluating how other WSO2 products can contribute to expanded capabilities within West Connect.

According to Patel, “We still continue to evaluate all the WSO2 products out there and we can easily see some fitting right here, business rules, complex event processing, and also how to use things like App Factory. The work continues.”

For more information about how West Interactive uses WSO2 products to power West Connect, view Patel’s WSO2Con 2013 presentation.

WSO2Con Insights – Algar Telecom Delivers Innovation Through Next-Gen Server-Side JavaScript Framework

As telecommunications continue to compete on service, they look at new ways to enrich the customer experience. For Algar Telecom, one of those ways is enabling customers to create their own Web applications using the popular JavaScript language.

At WSO2Con US 2013, Cesar William Alvarenga, front-end engineer at Algar Telecom, described how the company  is taking advantage of Jaggery, WSO2’s server-side JavaScript framework for composing Web applications.

Building on Initial Success

Before describing the company’s use of Jaggery, Alvarenga began by talking about the company’s first project using WSO2 software: Algar Telecom OCS (online charging system). OCS is used to charge customers in real-time, based on their service usage, and all mobile and fixed line traffic will run through this platform. The traffic is passed through WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), transforming the data and integrating with legacy services.

“Today we are processing over 200,000 transactions per day and this number will increase every day,” Alvarenga said. “The performance of the ESB is agreeable and it supports our telecommunication requirements.”

Algar Telecom also uses WSO2 products to support its Coreo platform, which is used to deliver a range of applications. For example, Alvarenga noted, an application could let a user send in the airport and flight number and receive the flight information—all using SMS.

Currently Algar Telecom deploys WSO2 ESB and WSO2 Business Activity Monitor (BAM) across the Coreo platform, Alvarenga explained. WSO2 ESB is used to create an interface between all the Coreo modules and transform the data, while the company uses WSO2 BAM to collect and present all of the platform’s data. The company is now testing Jaggery to facilitate Web app development.

The Jaggery Advantage

“Web developers love JavaScript, but typically must alternate between two languages when they want to build applications on the server side,” Alvarenga said. “Using Jaggery allows our developers to work strictly with JavaScript to build Web applications across the Coreo platform.”

With Jaggery, users can generate HTML and they can exchange messages with JSON, Alvarenga observed; “Another benefit is you can reduce the number of layers in your solution. You can access directly the ESB or database for example, and this helps the developer to build a small solution, accessing directly the main services.”

Working in JavaScript using Jaggery also supports Algar Telecom’s vision of a mobile platform that inherently supports Web-native applications.

“I think the future evolution shows that the mobile platform will support these Web  applications,” Alvarenga said, “Today we have some operating systems that support only this type of application, like Ubuntu phone, HP WebOS. Tizen from Linux, and Firefox OS from Mozilla. Using Jaggery, you have a lot of functionality, so if you know JavaScript, for the server-side application, you don’t have to do much. It’s very easy.

Alvarenga wrapped up by providing a detailed explanation of how Jaggery is used with the Coreo platform—using the Jaggery template to generate HTML for the user, granting access to the user with Jaggery and an OAuth module, executing the application using the WS-Request module, and using the ActiveMQ module to get the result back to the user.

For more information about how Algar Telecom is using Jaggery and other WSO2 solutions to develop web and mobile applications, view Alvarenga’s WSO2Con 2013 presentation here.