The following descriptions are a short showcase of some of the projects I’ve worked on in the recent past.

Core banking integration solution for rollout in African countries

I designed the WebSphere Message Broker framework for the African rollout of a major bank in South Africa.  The task involved conceptualizing the solution incorporating current solutions with the simultaneous rollout of a new core banking system.  I was responsible for designing a framework that is not only extremely flexible and robust, but that can also handle a big transaction load and cater for future growth.  Keeping with my motto that a solution must be as simple as possible to ensure maximum uptime was a real challenge in this scenario where everything needs to be parameter driven and customizable.  Fortunately I had a strong core team around me that took care of most of the complex programming needed to implement my designs.

As a second task I was responsible for the quality assurance of all the code.  Drawing on my experience with WebSphere Message Broker since 1999 this involved the compilation of a best practises guide detailing some of the peculiarities of the WebSphere Message Broker coding environment as well as a line by line scanning of the code looking for possible problems and identifying better and more optimal ways of coding the solution.  During this process I wrote several proofs to ensure code optimizations and I identified and suggested several critical changes that resulted in speed improvements between 80% and 200%.

Due to my nature and passion to create optimum efficient and clean code I also sometimes helped out the programmers with complicated debugging.  Combining my knowledge of WebSphere MQ, WebSphere Message Broker and integration experience gives me an unique perspective to tackle complex problems in the integration realm and I believe that I also added real value in this field.

Overall system performance in a complex integration solution that touches not only WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Message Broker, but several input mechanisms like queues, flat files, databases and web services calls are sometimes very difficult to analyze and control.  Deploy this over an active-active infrastructure, front-end it with IP sprayers and MQ gateways and route messages and files all over Africa and the problem to ensure a stable responsive system can be daunting.  Unfortunately I did not have enough time to do all tests, but preliminary work showed specific bottlenecks in XSLT transformations and the limit on the number of parallel deployed message flows.

Another task I relished was to get involved in some non-traditional coding for producing WebSphere Message Broker driven reporting and statistics.  I designed and programmed ESQL template procedures to achieve the following:

  1. Basic flow performance figures detailing number of transactions and time spent inside every flow broken down into hourly slots.  A typical report looks as follows:
  2. WebSphere MQ queue depth report showing warnings and errors with some configurations like excluding queues.  A typical report looks as follows:
  3. WebSphere MQ event analyzer interpreting WebSphere MQ events as populated in the system event queues.  A typical report looks as follows:
  4. Active message flow indicator.  A typical report looks as follows:
  5. Installation verification to cut short the testing of all moving parts relevant to WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Message Broker.  A typical report looks as follows:

After the initial design and hard work to ensure a stable and optimum system I looked forward to finishing off the project through production rollout, but unfortunately I was one of the casualties when the bank had to cut contractors and permanent employees to ensure a better bottom line for the shareholders.  But, I have full confidence in the team onsite to ensure a successful rollout and production stage and will hopefully soon be able to report here that the project was a huge success.

Health system integration

I was approached by my client during 2009 to help them make a technology decision on which integration platform to select.  After creating the selection criteria I worked closely with the integration vendors through “Proof of Technology” and “Proof of Concept” phases.  After the selection was made the client asked me to stay on in an advisory role as well as technical lead to design and implement the first few solutions.

The first application integrated their order system using traditional ftp messages in XML format to communicate with backend order and factory applications.  Subsequent applications are integrating SAP systems in Germany (via SCA SAP adapter) with backend systems in South Africa and Mauritius.  I was responsible for creating stable patterns and design, some coding and quality assurance of the code, all in WebSphere Message Broker.  I was also responsible for designing the WebSphere MQ network for delivery of reliable messaging.

Integration for a huge specialized retail environment

For this opportunity I was involved all the way from selling the solution, designing the solution, coding the solution to implementing it in production and all steps in between.  The heart of the solution integrates SAP (via tradition WebSphere SAP adapter), Siebel, WebMethods, flat files and custom databases using WebSphere Message Broker.  The core system receives orders from Siebel and custom databases communicating via stored procedures and web services and then correlates it with backend systems on SAP and custom databases.  Orders are also communicated to and from a WebMethods server to relay PKMS Manhattan messages to the warehouse system.

The customer needed minimal support people and in play with my “keep it simple, keep it stable” motto a big percentage of development went into supporting systems like automatic error correction, replay and reporting systems.  One of the core reporting systems is a self monitoring and statistics system that checks all peripheral systems, transaction load and warning systems to alert when systems are not responding or even when business parameters are not met.

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