Cultivating Technology Innovation in Cuba
Founded in 2002, the University of Informatics Sciences in Cuba has more than 12,000 professors, students and specialists actively studying and working on research each year, and it has already graduated more than 8,070 students in informatics science engineering. Working with the university is ALBET Engineering and Systems Inc., a Cuban enterprise dedicated to commercializing products and developing informatics services.
"This enterprise is now one of the top ten companies in the country with a remarkable participation in the Cuba-Venezuela relationship,” Mr. Infante Osorio said of ALBET, and he noted that revenues from the Cuba-Venezuela relationship totaled $150 million in one year alone.
Mr. Infante Osorio is chief of the university’s SOA Solutions department, which began thinking about SOA and how to enter the field two years ago. The department members recognized that they needed a methodology that would instantiate their own SOA reference architecture and enable its development and evolution over time.
The department also wanted to use a technology platform that would implement and support all of the requirements specified in the reference architecture. After evaluating available options, the department determined that the technology platform for them was WSO2.
Putting SOA Methodologies into Practice
In developing its SOA methodologies, Mr. Infante Osorio explained that the SOA Solutions department identified a set of disciplines in different stages and different layers that allowed the team to provide or develop different types of projects. For example, he explained, “If we want to develop an integration project, we use this methodology. If we want to build a composite application, we would use this methodology.”
Mr. Infante Osorio then reviewed some of the SOA methodologies that have been put into practice.
Services Lifecycle. The services lifecycle covers all stages, from service identification to design, implementation, testing and deployment. Since 2009, the WSO2 Governance Registry (originally named the WSO2 Registry) has been used to control services lifecycles.
Mr. Infante Osorio said that the department uses an IBM technique for composing business processes in different parts, including automated activities, shared renewed processes, human activities, and long-running processes. He noted that for automated activities, the department uses the WSO2 Business Rules Server (BRS), WSO2 Data Services Server, and WSO2 Application Server. For the shared renewed processes, the team uses the WSO2 Business Process Server (BPS). Meanwhile for long-running processes, Intalio is used because the WSO2 BPS hasn’t supported human activities to date.
Legacy access is based on the pattern from the “Enterprise Integration Patterns” book authored by Gregor Hohpe and Bobby Woolf, Mr. Infante Osorio said; “That ensures us access to the functionality deployed in the legacy application.” The department also uses it to extract information from the data store, the business logic of an application, or from the user interface of the application.
Security Architecture. The security architecture has a common set of requirements: authentication, authorization, audits, trust management, service integrity, and services confidentiality. WSO2 products used to support this architecture include the WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), WSO2 Identity Server, and WSO2 Web Services Framework for PHP.
For example, Mr. Infante Osorio explained that when a service call is made to the WSO2 ESB, it sends a XACML request to WSO2 Identity Server, which then sends a XACML response back to the ESB, either allowing or denying access.
Infrastructure Architecture. Exposing infrastructure services requires an IT group to set up, build, maintain, deploy, optimize, secure, and monitor all of the SOA components, Mr. Infante Osorio said. To handle integration and interoperability, the department has deployed the WSO2 ESB, WSO2 Identity Server, WSO2 Business Activity Monitor (BAM), WSO2 Governance Registry, WSO2 Application Server, WSO2 BPS, and WSO2 BRS.
Across the university’s implementations, the WSO2 Carbon Studio tool suite is used to develop data services and proxy services, create transformation using the Smooks framework, deploy remote artifacts inside the WSO2 stack, and build business processes with BPEL, Mr. Infante Osorio said.
Working with WSO2
Although the university uses much of the WSO2 Carbon platform, Mr. Infante Osorio observed that the department did not set out specifically to use WSO2’s software. In each case, WSO2 had a software product that fit the needs of the SOA reference architecture.
"We found that for the different requirements that we have, we can always go to WSO2,” Mr. Infante Osorio explained. “So when we wanted to create secure services, we saw that we have 15 security scenarios. And if the security services could not be changed, we have the ESB to ensure that it can be exposed in a secure way. So this was pretty amazing to us."
Because United States policies prohibit the Cuban university from purchasing services, the team has relied on the WSO2 community.
“We went to WSO2 for different services to maintain all those tools in a production environment, Mr. Infante Osorio said. “For some political reason, we cannot contract your services, so we went to mailing list.” There he said, the responses to his team’s questions were, “amazing…within minutes or two hours we’d get a response.”
Going forward, the university has a number of projects planned. These include creating plug-ins for security policy design, database configuration, and cluster configuration, Mr. Infante Osorio said. He also noted that the team plans to translate the WSO2 stack into Spanish, beginning with the WSO2 ESB.
Also on the horizon is moving to the cloud, so the department has begun trying out the WSO2 Stratos cloud middleware platform. Mr. Infante Osorio observed that the open source licensing is a great business model and source of management, and even better that, it's free.“ He added, “We are in the WSO2 camp, and confident and happy where they are going.”
To learn more about the SOA reference architecture and methodology developed at Universidad de las Ciencias Informáticas, view Mr. Infante Osorio’s full presentation here.