So at Microsoft TechEd Europe this year the strapline from the keynote was; It’s Time . It’s time for us to utilise the Cloud on our terms. I also thought there’d be time at the airport last Friday to write this blog but no chance, no time, just waiting in queues…if only they’d used Azure Topics to route us effectively…

So what sticks in my head my regarding the The Cloud OS: It’s Time theme? Hybrid Solutions , it was a theme repeated throughout the week, with many of the breakout sessions highlighting the progression in Microsoft products whether it be SQL, BizTalk, Office or .NET and the new features to support on-premises and cloud solutions.

With integration at the heart of most things we do at Smart421, I was interested to see Microsoft’s vision for integration particularly given the recent announcement of Windows Azure BizTalk Services (WABS) and I thought I’d briefly describe how the new features may be utilised.


Connect to the Cloud. BizTalk 2013, now includes Azure Service Bus adapters for simplified Azure connectivity. Why would you use this? The integration pattern discussed was Store and Forward, where an organisation may wish to insulate an on premises version of BizTalk from peaks and spikes or when destination systems are not online. By utilising Azure Service Bus queues to store messages, the on-prem BizTalk server is then free to process messages at it’s capacity or when destination systems are available.

Run in the Cloud. Due to large footprint of the BizTalk Server product, you may be able to save a considerable amount of time with Azure IaaS. Creating Dev and Test environments could be reduced to minutes with ready made BizTalk images ready to spin up at any time.

Build for the Cloud. WABS provide an easy way to expose service endpoints in the cloud, making B2B message exchange potentially simpler without having to expose on-prem services through a DMZ. EDI message exchange was given as an example, with ready made EDI adapters making EDI processing simple again potentially saving time.

With regard to the roadmap for WABS it will come as no surprise to hear that many of the BizTalk Server features will be finding there way into WABS but rest assured the investment in the on-prem version will continue for some time yet. If you’re an existing Microsoft customer and already bought into their stack, there is undoubted flexibility provided by the combination of on-premises, cloud infrastructure and platform services. As always, understanding how best to utilise what and when will be the challenge.

In my next blog I hope to talk in a bit more detail about some of the new features in SQL2014.

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Today myself and four other Smarties attended Norfolk’s first Mobile Development Conference at the Hethel Engineering Centre, which is right next to where they make Lotus Cars.

Conference Room

There is an obvious tie-up between Hethel and Lotus given that the main presentations were held in the Colin Chapman room (founder of Lotus cars) where one of Ayrton Senna’s “99T” F1 cars was stuck to the wall!

Mobile Development is one of the most exciting and diverse areas in IT at the moment and this conference did very well to have a wide coverage from games developers like MonoGame to Tim Ferguson, Head of Digital at one of our customers AVIVA and their mobile app lessons learnt from their various innovations and experiments.

The keynote by Neil Garner of @Proxama resonated with me very much, both in his memories of tech from past years (Nokia 7110 first Wap phone) to his honest assessment of NFC and rebuttal of the doubters who don’t see NFC taking off now. The ARM Trustzone was highlighted by Neil as a key element in providing security for NFC applications. There are Contactless terminals everywhere now and 9 of the top 10 device manufacturers are signed up to support NFC – Apple is the odd one out but aren’t they always?

Our own @JamesElsey1986 later showed that NFC is more flexible and powerful than you think using Android. James later tweeted:

Source code/slides from my #NFC workshop  Feel free to ask questions / give feedback. Thanks for attending! #MobDevCon

Matt Lacey presented two sessions, his first on tips for developing for Windows 8 included some real gems which will help us with our tailoring of our cross-platform Apps to work well on the new Windows platforms. I agree with Matt, who worked on PhoneGap’s Windows integration code that you have to be knowledgeable and experienced in developing native Apps to be able to build successful cross-platform Apps. Luckily Smart421 have a whole Microsoft practice to help us Java-oriented types out with that. Read Matt’s blog for more info and his slides from his second presentation on monetising Apps.

I was first on to present after lunch and talked about our work delivering cross-platform mobile experiences with Worklight – my slides are now up on slideshare. There was a general theme at the conference that cross-platform tools are coming of age and the compromise of user experience and performance when compared to native development is far outweighed by the much faster and cheaper overall costs of App development and maintenance. I just about managed to demo the new Worklight 6 Studio IDE and Console. I am really liking the improved jQueryMobile integration and want to find time to check out the new App Centre tools and automated testing when I get the chance.

Ruth John (@rumyra) of O2’s “The Lab” gave a kitty and puppy-tastic presentation on FireFoxOS and why Telefonica have taken it up especially in the emerging South American markets – it’s free, works well on low-end handsets with the FireFox operating system built on top of the Gecko layer as is Android. It will be really interesting to see if this will catch on in the UK and European markets in these times of austerity where people are perhaps not quite ready to splash a few hundred every year on the latest iOS gadgets.

There was also a really enlightening “sponsor presentation” by Basho on the subject of reclaiming the terms web scale, big data, dev ops and how the NHS is using Riak’s open source technology.

Massive thanks to Naked Element (Paul and Marie) and everyone involved in setting up the event, thanks to Hethel for such a great venue, the sponsors for the delicious lunch and the attendees for their support and kind comments.

P.S. Welcome to twitter @CharlesBSimms :-)

After the polished video intro (screen shot below and catch the full key note here) Brad Anderson (Corporate VP at Microsoft) kicked off TechEd Europe here in Madrid by highlighting the opportunities that we have available to us as at the moment in IT. He talked about innovation, helping customers differentiate themselves and how Microsoft aim to make others great, so whilst I definitely agree that with him, it was the resonance with so much of what we do at Smart that I really liked.


Four areas of innovation were discussed around; People Centric IT, Building better Apps for people, Data, and the Cloud Platform. Aligning to these were new product release announcements including SQL 2014 CTP, VS2013 and TFS2013 CTP, Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. Better still, a partnership with Oracle was announced which means Oracle is fully supported on Azure and Hyper-V (and from what I gathered Oracle images ready to spin up in Azure).

One of the best parts (and I tweeted at the time – @wanty1975 btw) was a video of one of our customers (Aviva) referenced as an example of mobile and Azure development combining to provide an innovative solution for their customers. Why was this so good? Well partly because my old boss was in the video…but more so because seeing real world examples, and close to home too help inspire and make me realise the opportunities we have available to us.

TechEd Pres

So a brief list of new features mentioned in the key note that you should be aware of:

  • BYOD – two-factor authentication making it easy to add devices (a MS Surface in the demo) to AD domains using Windows 8.1 (not sure what the experience would be like for other devices though??). The simple process means files are sync’d, permissios granted to corporate data and Line of Business (LoB) applications downloaded onto the device accessible via a company portal-like homepage.
  • VS and TFS 2013 – ALM benefits throughout the develoment lifecycle but I really liked InRelease (following a recent acquisition by Microsoft) which provides workflow and approval mechanisms for moving builds through environments. I could see this really helping to take the pain away from tracking builds through environments and ensuring everyone knows what versions are where. From a dev perspective I also thought the new Code Lens and Code Map features looked really helpful. These come under the banner of Situational Awareness and are designed to reduce the time and effort needed by developers when context switching. Code Lens integrates with TFS 2013 to provide details within the code base, such as tests passing/failed, who it was last checked in by and any recent check-ins. It helps developers understand who has done what, where and why, much more simply than the previous version/compare routine that we’ve all experienced. Code Map provides a diagramatic view of code (similar to architecture modelling tools) but this can be viewed at runtime in debug mode, like a call stack, helping developers familiarise themselves with code much quicker and easier.
  • SQL 2014 – some huge performance gains achieved through in-memory OLTP and row based access rather than page, therefore reducing locking issues and increasing performance. SQL will suggest what tables are ‘hot’ and recommend moving them into memory (I’m assuming they’re persisted to disk to fairly frequently!!). I also picked up on the ability to replicate an existing on-prem DB to Azure, to provide HA and DR via a right-click menu option…didn’t see or hear any more evidence of this but sounds like a great feature. Also HDInsight and Hadoop linkage to Excel to provide visualisations and insight to Big Data.
  • Windows Server and System Center 2012 R2 – providing the tools to make Hybrid cloud simple and easy, with tooling to help sync data, create replicas for DR purposes and significant performance benefits for virtualised machines.

So there are obviously things that I’ve missed and lots more to talk about but hopefully this represents a fair summary. I’ll also be tweeting any further nuggets throughout the week.

Custom Cocktails at Gartner AADI, London

Smart421 Custom Cocktails
Photo by

By popular demand we’ve decided to publish today the receipes from the customised cocktails we served last week at the Gartner AADI Summit in London.

Our guests absolutely loved the choice of 4 alcoholic and 2 non-alcoholic custom cocktails.

These were created specially for us by leading mixologist and bartender David Hurst and expert flair bartender David Oliveira at UK’s leading mobile bar company, Cocktailmaker ( @CocktailmakerUK ).

Handle with care… I mean flair.
Ok, both maybe!

Tip: depending on which you try, all these recipes will come out either red or purple (our company colours).

Any other colours you might obtain will be a total fluke and you should probably try again (in case you needed a good excuse…)

Cloud DR Breeze: Vodka, Grapefruit Juice, Cranberry Juice

Put plenty of ice in a highball glass, add a large shot of vodka and fill with equal measures of cranberry and grapefruit juice.

IaaS Cooler: Crème de Cassis, Crème de Fraise, Cranberry Juice, Lime Juice

Put one measure of each of the cassis, strawberry liqueur and cranberry juice into a shaker tin full of ice, add a squeeze of lime, shake well and strain in to a martini glass.

API Factory Collins: Vodka, Lemon Juice, Gomme, Strawberry, Soda Water

Put a large shot of vodka, a single shot of fresh lemon and half a shot of sugar syrup into an ice-filled shaker tin, shake well and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with soda water, garnish with a lemon wedge and serve.

Integration Martini: Coconut Rum, Cranberry Juice, Grapefruit Juice

Put a good scoop of ice in a highball glass, add a large shot of coconut rum and fill with equal measures of cranberry and grapefruit juice.

Service Factory Fizz: Strawberry, Orange Juice, Lime, Lemonade

Add a measure of strawberry puree to a shaker with 150ml of orange juice, squeeze and drop in a wedge of lime, fill with ice, shake well and strain into a highball glass half full of fresh ice. Top with lemonade.

SOA Water: Passion Fruit Juice, Orange Juice, Grenadine, Soda Water

Equal measures of passion fruit juice and orange juice are shaken in a tin with ice, the mix is poured into a highball glass and topped with soda. Pour grenadine carefully down the side of the glass.

Enjoy. Responsibly.

PS   did you see our more recent blog on The Smartini ?

Please Rate and Like this blog. Leave a Comment to tell us about your favourite. Come back later and Comment about the fun you had mixing these cocktails.

Photo: Industrial backdrop by Pilarts  Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Photo: Industrial backdrop by Pilarts Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I’d like to propose a best practice for rolling out new features in a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

Traditionally, when we roll out a major new feature, we often end up causing a breaking change to the service. We’re then faced with a choice: (a) Force all our consumers to upgrade to the new version, and making all our consumers hate us, or (b) continue to support the old version of the service as well as the new, making only our own teams hate us. Suck it up, plan (b) is the better option, but try telling that to the guy having to patch fixes in three concurrent versions of a service.

Now, there are patterns that can help here (more on that another day), but they all still mean more work for everyone.

Also, when we first roll out a feature is exactly the moment we understand it least. We’ve got absolutely no idea how people will use it, nor whether it will even turn out to be useful. By baking the feature into a new major version of the service, we’re taking all our options away. The feature will be hard to remove if we decide it isn’t useful, and if we want to change how it works, we’re back into a major version upgrade again.

To my mind, good engineering is largely about keeping your options open. It’d be nice if we can try a new feature with a subset of consumers first, iterating quickly with just that subset, gradually adding more consumers as we get more confident.

Enter the Feature Flags pattern. Feature flags allow you to turn features on an off at a moment’s notice. At its most basic, a feature flag just turns a feature on or off for everyone at once, but the idea is often extended to allow turning on features for specific users, or collections of users. This allows you to roll out a new feature to consumers gradually, over an extended period.

So, here’s the proposal:

  • Allow consumers to pass a set of feature flags dictating which features they’d like enabled in the service.
  • Whenever you build a major new feature that would otherwise cause a breaking change, only enable it when the feature flag is passed.
  • If appropriate to your environment, control access to feature flags like you would to any other resource – e.g. you might want to restrict access in the early days to just a single consumer, making it easier to iterate.
  • Once we’re comfortable with a feature, it becomes publicly available – i.e. anyone can toggle the flag.
  • Every so often (e.g. once every couple of years), create a new major version of the service, refactoring it to include popular, battle tested features by default. Also, take this as an opportunity to clean out the cupboard and abandon any features that aren’t well used.

What do you think? Comments and thoughts very welcome…


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Jeff Bezos Photo by John Keatley, Seattle's leading photographer

Jeff Bezos
Photo by John Keatley, Seattle’s leading photographer

Every time I hear this story, it makes me smile. From Kim Lane over at API Evangelist:

[…] one day Jeff Bezos issued a mandate, sometime back around 2002 (give or take a year):

  • All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.
  • Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.
  • There will be no other form of inter-process communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team’s data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.
  • It doesn’t matter what technology they use.
  • All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.

The mandate closed with:

Anyone who doesn’t do this will be fired. Thank you; have a nice day!

Assuming for the moment that this is true, the thing that makes me smile here isn’t the closing rhetoric. What Jeff described here is pretty well everything you need to know about successful SOA.

Look at the wording again. “All teams”. He didn’t say “all systems” or “all services”. Technology isn’t [the most] important. People are.

By focussing on teams rather than technology, Jeff ensured that Amazon’s embryonic SOA was business aligned. One, simple decision was all it took. Well, that and ten years of concerted effort of one of the brightest engineering teams on the planet.

Wow! SyncIpswich’s second meetup and around 80 people crammed into the Eastern Enterprise Hub in the James Hehir Building at University Campus Suffolk. Many of the attendees were working for local behemoths like BT but there were also a good mix of bootstrappers, Start Ups and tech entrepreneurs with all kinds of backgrounds (even spotted a Chartered Accountant).

Organisers Carl Farmer (@CarlFarmer), supported by Anders Fisher (@atleastimtrying) and others have done a great job with SyncIpswich, which we are proud to sponsor. The focus of this meetup was on building software quickly with good practices as well as a nice introduction to the Windows Azure Cloud.

Talk no 1. Continuous Delivery

The first presentation by Chris O’Dell from 7digital (@ChrisAnnOdell) described how Agile practices (CI, Kanban, etc) combined with their architectural evolution to SOA have reduced code to deploy times to half a day  at 7digital.  And, by the sound of it, makes their developers more productive by getting away from “DLL Hell” that used to be the bane of any Microsoft Windows developer’s life towards a loosely-coupled set of services and a public API.

7Digital Logo

Chris raised some really interesting points around developing small fine-grained service components – not being that familiar with .Net myself this seemed to be similar to what we are doing in the Java world with OSGi and Service Component Architecture. I do like the policy of developing new features on the trunk (no feature branches) but making good use of feature flags rather than old-fashioned branch & merge.

They are also using Git for the code version control and Chris showed the inversion of the classic Unit Test, Acceptance Test, QA triangle. Some in our own organisation are raising question marks about the usefulness of very granular unit tests so the approach taken by 7digital of increasing the number of Unit tests is interesting.

There were a lot of questions from the floor, I was particularly interested in how the small kanban teams (about 6 or 7 members in 5 or 6 teams I think) interact when there are common services. This is a key problem that us SOA architects need to get right to get the best value on services. Feature Flags is something that we’ve also thought about in the context of simplifying application testing by, for example, switching off authentication for functional testing.

It’s great to see a company like 7digital competing successfully with iTunes and Amazon in the digital music space. I’ll be checking out their API (and their JLS back catalogue !) in more detail this weekend.

Richard Astbury AzureTalk no 2. Starting out in Azure

The second talk of the night was by Richard Astbury (@richorama) of Two10 Degrees ( @two10degrees). Richard gave a nice introduction to Cloud computing and in particular using Microsoft Windows Azure, showing a picture of a MS data centre under construction, which was something I haven’t ever seen before. I think it really brought home the sheer scale and commodity nature of the Cloud and these facilities being full of containers of kit that is just thrown away or recycled when it stops working.

Building a website on Windows Azure from scratch can use a few main pre-canned routes like the obvious “Website”, “Virtual Machine” and “Cloud Service”.

And it now includes a “Mobile Service” which is of particular interest to me. Sadly, I didn’t have time to chat to Richard about this but it’s on my “To Do” list to get a Hello Smartie mobile service up and running. In fairness, Richard did do two masterful demos for Website, including a node.js based site which he even launched from his home computer (a Raspberry Pi no less). As Carl tweeted:

Deploying to Azure from a remote RaspberryPi at home… Impressive stuff from @richorama !

— SyncIpswich (@SyncIpswich) April 25, 2013

Well done to the people of Ipswich for turning out and drinking all the sponsored free beer!
SyncIpswich will run and run.

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IBM Forum London by HOK

IBM Forum, London, designed by HOK (
Photo courtesy of HOK

Integration architects and solutions designers interested in IBM’s WebSphere technology stack converged once again for the Spring (!) gathering 2013 WUG at IBM Forum Centre, South Bank, London on  21 March.  I was one of them.

Trends in the WebSphere Ecosystem – Innovation/Evolution

From my perspective, WebSphere seem to retain good ground mainly due to innovation & adaptation of the upcoming technologies in it’s stride. Catering for Mobile & The Cloud areas as well as fulfilling existing customer/partner’s needs by adding features. There was good interest shown by participants on applicability of WebSphere technologies in the Mobile world.

To be honest, I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic about this, as I’m hoping that the promise shown in the WebSphere brand needs to be realised to it’s potential by the end-users/customers.

Without innovation & evolution into these emerging technology areas, WebSphere brand will probably sustain existing customer base for some years but then could’ve started going down hill. Customers will always have changing needs/requirements to adapt & harness the potential of emerging technologies which if isn’t catered for, will result in them having to resort to alternative solutions – maybe slowly, but surely!

I’d like to share some highlights based on sessions I attended:

WebSphere MQ in the Mobile world (notably: WMQ Support for Web Sockets) WebSockets as we know is a two-way messaging (full duplex) protocol, part of HTML 5 & notably provides the facility to perform push notification from Server to browser (not the pseudo pushes as a result of polling etc.). Remember MQTT (MQ Telemetry Transport), a simple & lightweight messaging protocol? It’s been there for quite a number of years associated with real world applications (Sensors, Machine-To-Machine usage etc.) and been associated with WebSphere MQ from V7.1.

As the puts it succinctly: It is a publish/subscribe, designed for constrained devices and low-bandwidth, high-latency or unreliable networks. The design principles are to minimise network bandwidth and device resource requirements whilst also attempting to ensure reliability and some degree of assurance of delivery.

So, combining the two together (MQTT due to its reliable & light-weight nature & WebSockets due to its full duplex nature) usually involves doing extra work on both sides (at the least, on the client side if using a Messaging server that supports MQTT).

From WebSphere MQ Version the support for WebSocket is built-in!

  • Highly Scalable
  • Secure Push Notifications

This eliminates the need for a client library and hence the Web Browser (or any Web app based on HTML 5/WebSockets) could now be used to send and receive messages, Publish/Subscribe directly from WMQ. This effectively provides a wider range of options for mobile web apps too (based on HTML 5/WebSockets) for reliable messaging, Subscriptions etc. Seamless integration through the Messaging Server to the whole enterprise and beyond (ESB, Cloud, Third party Systems etc.).


  • Browsers should support WebSockets – some do & some don’t
  • Some work (scripting etc.) still needs doing on client side (e.g. JavaScript), that will manage the WebSockets connection. Apparently this (JavaScript Client Library) and other client libraries (C, .Net etc.) would be provided by IBM as part of WMQ (I was told by the presenter).
  • SSL/TLS adds significant network overhead – so use of wss needs careful consideration particularly in constrained/low-bandwidth scenarios.

Extra Bits

  • A Browser based dashboard with close to real-time reporting (a dynamic/active speed-dial display, using the JavaScript WebSockets Client library) connecting to a WMQ Server subscribing to a topic (For selective data feed on system performance characteristics CPU / Memory etc.)
  • The other (more interesting one) an EXCEL Spreadsheet with specific Cells populated by Macros (uses .Net WebSockets Client Library behind, I think) providing a similar dynamic/active speed-dial display. A MQ Server Push ending up in an Excel Spreadsheet!
  • FaceBook Messenger uses MQTT as their underlying messaging protocol.

WebSphere Message Broker 8 & DFDL Support

A gist of features, some of which were really interesting (from a value addition/diversified usage point of view):

Built-in WebSphere ExtremeScale caching

  • ExtremeScale caching: A Grid based (infinite hash map) caching technology that apparently have proved to provide a very high degree of scaling/elasticity for business class applications.
  • Use of recommended patterns such as Application State Store Pattern (Scale-up/scale-down: is more suited for a cloud based solution improving App Server Elasticity), Side-Caching Pattern (for a Gateway style implementation) provides a robust caching facility thus eliminating the need for custom/non-standard caching solutions.
  • Caching available at Broker, Execution Group, Flow, Node levels.

Worklight integration, provision of patterns for mobile services & Toolkit support for conversion from WMB service to Mobile service e.g. Mobile service created using specific pattern can Receive data in JSON and covert to native Broker format.

.NET Integration

  • Ability to directly invoke .NET programs through the CLR
  • C#, VB.NET natively added to WMB
  • .NET Assemblies into BAR files

Patterns based development - Provides a set of pre-built templates (based on best practice) & ability to create user defined patterns for reuse. Also, a web based pattern generation facility allows end users (which not much knowledge of WMB development) to configure and deploy these patterns directly onto broker.

DFDL Parser & Modelling Support: DFDL (Data Format Description Language) is a modelling language for describing text & binary data in a standard way (as data formats). Is is quite powerful as a variety of data formats (including industry Standard formats) are supported and it can be used for: Text, Binary & Bit level data, Fixed length, delimited, patterned, Bi-directional data, Nil & Out of range values etc.

As its a standard DFDL format is portable, editable & can be generated using tools – similar to XSD for XML data. DFDL builds upon W3C XML Schema 1.0 and uses a subset of XML Schema elements to model non-XML (text/binary data).

MRM Message Sets were used in earlier WMB days to model text/binary data. DFDL Support in WMB provides a powerful & standardised way to model & process data.

  • DFDL Parser (On-demand & streaming) is available for both ESQL & Java nodes.
  • Graphical Editor with Guided Wizards for DFDL modelling in Message Broker Toolkit.
  • DFDL SChema deployed as part of BAR file onto Broker, so no separate dictionary files to manage.

 Other WMB Features Worth noting:

  • Lineage of Data Analysis & Cross-tool data analysis using Infosphere Metadata Workbench
  • Improved Web Administration Console to send control commands (If my guess is right this should be using MQTT behind the scenes) with Role based access. Also, provides a public REST based management API.
  • Built-in Audit of Messages/data flowing through – persistence to DB2 and Oracle supported – MS SQL Server not supported.
  • Built-in Record, Capture & Replay Messages/Data facility using single or Multiple Brokers.
  • Simplified Cloud Provisioning through IBM PureSystems.

 ….and many more!

PS  I’ve also posted this on my personal blog

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What is the OTA?

The OpenTravel Alliance provides a community where companies in the electronic distribution supply chain work together to create an accepted structure for electronic messages, enabling suppliers and distributors to speak the same interoperability language, trading partner to trading partner.

What does the OTA look like?

A set of XML schemas (XSDs) that define travel-related entities organised into common and domain-specific types. Domains include Air, Rail, Hotel, Vehicle, Insurance, Cruise. AirPriceRS example below (from XMLSpy):


OTA Pros?

  • Off-the-shelf extensible set of components developed by the travel industry that can save valuable time and effort when designing your XML message structures.
  • Provides a common vocabulary.
  • Helps towards developing a canonical schema/data model .
  • The OTA is updated twice a year, and all schemas are backwardly compatible.
  • Maximum flexibility – all elements and attributes are optional which allows companies to choose which parts they want to use.
  • Enables companies to derive maximum value from legacy systems by wrapping them in a service façade.

OTA Cons?

  • Provider systems may only support subsets of the OTA.
  • Companies often have their own internal vocabulary for OTA entities – mapping from one to the other can be confusing.
  • Bespoke schemas will still be required. However, XML namespaces allow OTA and bespoke vocabularies to be used side-by-side.
  • If you make any custom extensions to the OTA, these will be lost when moving to a new OTA version.
  • The flexibility of OTA entities can sometimes result in unwieldy messages.

Why use the OTA?

The choice of whether to use the OTA or a bespoke solution will ultimately depend on how applicable the OTA is for a specific travel sector and the take-up of OTA by provider systems in that sector. Smart421’s experience of working with Virgin Atlantic to develop their SOA offering is that using the OTA is beneficial.


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As my conference season is fast approaching I have been looking at what will I be wearing this year. Well, Open Identity, Open Infrastructure and Open Integration are the themes of my Spring collection.

First up is Open Identity with the Gartner Identity and Access Management Summit ( #GartnerIAM ). I’m heading straight for the ForgeRock stand which I think will be buzzing this year as we’re seeing interest taking off in their products – and our partnership is really starting to get into its stride too.

Next up will be Open Infrastructure at the AWS Summit in London. This will be especially interesting following Smart421 winning two major AWS contracts recently and starting to operate in the SIAM role for National Rail Enquiries. My expectation is that this time around many more enterprises be declaring their AWS credentials – which is closer to my personal experience.

Last but not least, it’s Open Integration, back at Gartner for the Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit ( #GartnerAADI ) in London on 16-17 May. This time we’re showcasing how Smart421 is turning the Service Factory concept “inside-out” to create the Open Enterprise. If you want to see more then come along and meet us there.

All three themes all tie back to how we see the Future of Architecture developing and that’s getting quite exciting too.

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