Te Wānanga Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa are in the process of producing an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), and developing a real-time data warehousing solution. This will provide them with the capability to run operational reports against integrated and processed, organisationally-consistent data, without the significant latency that would be expected from most data warehousing solutions.

The ESB, data warehouse, and reporting are being developed in conjunction with, and according to, a cross-organisational ontology, allowing for consistent use of terms, reduction in development costs, and reduced technical debt. This ontology can be used in discussions with business users, and to describe and communicate development roadmaps and milestones throughout the business.

The purpose of this case study is to highlight some of the innovation that Aware Group is currently driving within tertiary organisations.

Challenges
Existing integrations between systems is minimal, tightly-coupled, and script-based. This results in a high-cost barrier to changing systems, and slows development times for further integration. They have one data-mart pulling primarily from their student management system. This contains no cross-system integration and is tightly coupled to that system, both technically and in the terminology used to describe data. Lack of clarity around definitions has caused difficulty in collaboration between teams, and the nature of the data mart prevents many cases from being met.

To resolve these challenges, the team at Te Wānanga wanted to create an integration solution that was built both to decouple their systems where possible, and to integrate with
a data warehousing solution by design.

How Product Helped
Upon initial engagement with Aware Group, a prototype ESB was produced in collaboration with Te Wānanga. This has since been developed to include three systems, with multiple API layers of integration. This has already allowed the decoupling of these systems, with organisationally modelled entities driving integration across messaging queues, rather than scripts. Current ESB development is focused on producing this system and adding an additional two endpoints.

In parallel, Aware Group is working with the analysts and SMEs at Te Wānanga to create an ontology of their entities and relationships. This will power their Entity Relationship Diagram, data dictionary, and alignment of all ESB APIs. Using this, a real-time ESB-driven data warehouse framework is being developed, allowing Te Wānanga staff to develop and maintain event-based updates when new entities are pushed to the ESB.

Due to the use of the ontology-driven design, minimal additional transformation is required within the data warehouse, with improved performance and development speed. This also allows for systems to be swapped out without the normal data warehouse development that would be required for such a switch. In addition, the data definitions agreed-upon by the business make for reduced barriers to uptake of the data warehouse and promote involvement of the appropriate SMEs and analysts early in the process.

Results, Return on Investment and Future Plans
This solution is currently undergoing active development, anticipating full release and complete handover by the end of November; however, the Aware team has supported several related benefits:

  • Upskilling of three Te Wānanga developers from no experience with Microsoft ESB tools to a high level of expertise.
  • Identification of several data definitions in current use that are inconsistently used across the organization.

This project has been underway for a few months. Progress is quickly being made towards a complete production system supported by staff that are empowered to take ownership of the entire solution.

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