Affinity Sutton is in the process of bringing together over 150 interfaces between disparate applications using Datadialogs’ Eden system.
Chris Battye, head of business systems, Affinity Sutton, said, “We have more than 150 application interfaces. They have been written by different people, over many years, on different operating systems, and in different languages or scripts, and involve a large number of disparate business applications With so many interfaces it is difficult to manage and control them effectively, so that if one fails the IMS department only know about it when the business identifies a data issue or inconsistency, prompting them to call the support desk.”
Affinity Sutton therefore needed a better understanding of its existing interfaces, to know immediately when they had failed and why, and to manage all of the interfaces within a common ‘hub’ to give the IT department much better control and visibility.
Affinity Sutton began talks with Datadialogs with the idea of using the Eden system to re-implement all of its existing interfaces. However, it soon became apparent that it would be a massive project as it would involve reverse engineering more than 150 interfaces, redesigning each of them (if required) and then re-implementing them. Added to which there would be a considerable amount of redundancy in the project as most of the interfaces work most of the time.
Datadialogs advised that Affinity Sutton wouldn’t need to re-implement all the interfaces; it simply needed to monitor what was there and only re-implement the interfaces that fail often. Affinity Sutton has decided on a phased implementation of Eden. The first phase will use Eden to monitor all of Affinity Sutton’s interfaces, checking that they are working properly, identifying failure points and emailing the relevant people when particular interfaces fail. The second phase will use Eden to re-implement the problem areas, which themselves will be built in Eden and will therefore be covered by the monitoring system.
Commenting on the other benefits, Battye said, “We can now rationalise the management of what seemed to be 150 distinct interfaces into a simpler and more manageable structure. For example, we previously considered each rent-payment file received and its flow through the various systems as one interface, but we can now view a single ‘rents’ interface that contains sub-levels for different payment types and individual files. This has given us a much better perspective on what we thought was an unmanageable and growing problem.”
Affinity Sutton and Datadialogs are also using Eden to build a web-based front-end for the monitoring system which shows the real-time state of each interface and allows users to drill-down as necessary. Once Affinity Sutton moves into the second phase of this project, it will use the same monitoring system to implement part or all of certain interfaces and to manually intervene when required.
Battye concluded, “The monitoring system lets us react to interface failures and potentially re-initiate them before the business even becomes aware of a problem, and because of the drill-down facility into the underlying application database, failures due to data inconsistencies can be resolved within the business, without the need for the IT department to be involved.”