In-Depth

Nominees for Application Engineering

2006 Innovator Awards ADT's annual Innovator Awards recognize IT development teams who have solved their company's business problems by deploying unique solutions. This year 31 nominees entered their application development projects in the five categories listed below. For the next month, nominees and their projects will be profiled. The winners in all five categories, based on judging by a group of consultants at Keane, will be announced in ADT's May issue. Tell us who you think should win. Scroll down and vote for the best project in the application engineering category.


Categories

  • Application Engineering

    Emphasizes the use of software engineering tools and practices. Includes the use of Extreme Programming (XP) concepts, the Unified Modeling Language (UML), Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE), object-oriented analysis and design tools, automated testing tools, methodologies, project management, process management, configuration management tools and/or productivity measurement tools in an innovative corporate development project.

  • Data Warehousing

    Emphasizes the design and development processes and tools used in enterprise data warehousing projects, including: data mining tools, online transaction processing systems, data extraction and transformation tools, database management systems, universal data management systems, query and reporting tools.

    Click here to see the nominees for this category.

  • E-Business Application Development

    Emphasizes efforts to develop a corporate application architecture that incorporates legacy systems, client/server systems and the Internet. The judges will evaluate how the finished application affects business processes, as well as the tools and technologies employed. This category also emphasizes the use of multi-tier development tools for development of enterprise-wide applications that can include Web-based and wireless clients. Examples include RAD tools, data modelers, visual 4GLs, Java tools, Internet tools, wireless development tools and development frameworks.

    Click here to see the nominees for this category.

  • Middleware/Application Integration

    Emphasizes the use of middleware, integration and messaging technologies within an application architecture. Relevant tools can include transaction managers, object request brokers, RPC-based schemes, XML-based technologies, object transaction monitors, Web services, application integration tools, message-oriented middleware (MOM) alternatives, and publish and subscribe systems. Also emphasizes the use of middleware to link multiple packaged and/or packaged and internally developed applications, and multivendor DBMS systems to allow seamless integration between dissimilar systems.

    Click here to see the nominees for this category.

  • Open Source

    Emphasizes the use of open-source technologies and tools by corporate development teams building internal, proprietary applications or for extending the capabilities of existing systems. Projects that combine traditional development methods with open-source offerings as well as projects relying solely on open-source technologies are relevant to this category.

    Click here to see the Nominees for this category


Nominees for Application Engineering

Nominee: BMC Software

Industry: High Technology

Goal: Maintain and grow market share in systems management products.

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Business Problem: BMC's development team needed to re-architect its aging PATROL systems management product line in 8-10 months. The new end-to-end systems management platform required the functionality to diagnose complex problems, while offering simple installation. The team also had to combine three earlier architectures (PATROL 3, PATROL 7 and PATROL Express) into one infrastructure.

Application Solution: The development team built the new BMC Performance Manager using an Agile (Scrum) software development lifecycle based on two-week iterations. Software tools for the project included the Eclipse Platform, Oracle, JBoss Application Server, JUnit regression testing framework and Maven software management tool. Project requirements were reprioritized for each iteration based on project and customer requirements. Maven helped the team, which included about 200 developers and quality assurance testers, keep track of requirements, story cards, tasks, iteration and release status. The solution architecture encapsulated cross-platform hosting components as well as a central database and Web-based portal. BMC Performance Manager provides monitoring, alert notification, event management, reporting and historical trending from a central console. A major challenge in this project was the integration of five different infrastructure components. Once integration was achieved, the last four months of the development effort were used to build and test the integrated system.
click here to read full submission.


Nominee: Compuware

Industry: High Technology

Goal: To comply with federal mandates.

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Business Problem: Working under a federal mandate, Ohio needed to consolidate information in 88 disparate county child welfare systems so that the case files would be readily accessible to welfare workers statewide, regardless of county.

Child welfare workers in the field were unable to readily view case files for individual children in the system and determine what care they had been provided and by which county because each county employed unique or incompatible paper-based and automated systems.

Application Solution: To build a new system that would provide child welfare case workers with secure, readily available access to 120,000 active case files statewide using a Web interface.

The SACWIS development team is able to effectively manage the system’s complexity because the project is partitioned into five loosely coupled subsystems based on a service oriented architecture. The project combines the agile nature of small team development with the overall architectural control provided by a model-driven approach. Through fast prototyping of functionality and short, two-week development iterations, business users are able to rapidly verify system functionality.

click here to read full submission.


Nominee: Convergys

Industry: High Technology

Goal: To reduce costs by consolidating software vendors and products.

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Business Problem: Traditionally, Convergys allowed its numerous development teams to select their own configuration management solutions and to develop the processes to manage their CM environments. In 2003, Convergys embarked on a plan to develop a consistent CM environment across all its projects.

Application Solution: Convergys set up a four-person Work Management Configuration Management team to select a CM tool that would be used by all its project teams. Following an internal review and evaluation, the WMCM elected to standardize Telelogic SYNERGY/CM, a tool suite for task-based change and configuration management.

Telelogic SYNERGY/CM provides task-based management of software objects, which Convergys felt was critical to successfully managing its project. In addition, Convergys created a Work Management System, an in-house tool for managing enhancement requests and trouble tickets and then created an interface between WMS and SYNERGY/CM. The WMCM team also created a Web portal for access to content about the project, documentation related to the Teleogic toolkit, scripts and other features.

click here to read full submission.


Nominee: Digital Insight

Industry: Finance

Goal: Overcome several challenges related to application builds.

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Business Problem: Digital Insight, an online banking provider for financial institutions, found itself grappling with several problems related to its application build processes. Errors in builds would go undetected long after they first appeared--sometimes as late as QA certification; detecting build errors required doing a time-consuming analysis of text files produced during the build; and gathering metrics about the build was impossible because critical information was not being saved.

Application Solution: Digital Insight decided the solution to these and other problems was to underpin its build process with software configuration management tools from BuildForge. The two products the company selected were BuildForge FullControl and FullThrottle.

FullControl captures information about software components, configurations, resources and user activities to create a complete picture of a release. Critical release information combined with software artifacts and change management processes and events enable development managers to trace source changes, defects and test suites in each release. In addition, they can quickly diagnose errors as they occur within an application in production.

FullThrottle accelerates builds by transforming idle servers into optimized build clusters, thus speeding build processing time. Large-scale deployments to server farms can be automated and executed consistently each time. The result is radical improvements in build and release times with much less effort.

The new system gives Digital Insight’s development team the ability to measure quality in more meaningful ways throughout the development cycle and it is now able to see if quality is improving or declining throughout the release.

click here to read full submission.


Nominee: Electronic Arts, Redwood Shores Studio

Industry: Electronic games

Goal: Decrease costs and improve product quality by standardizing game development process.

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Business Problem: Retool a homegrown configuration management system to improve quality and project speed across all of EA’s game titles. The new system had to be non-disruptive and support dispersed development teams’ existing tools and practices.

Application Solution: EA used BuildForge FullControl and FullThrottle to build a configuration management framework to institute standardized “build” and “release” processes across development teams. The architecture features a BuildForge centralized management console on an Apache server with a resident MySQL database and an embedded execution engine, which connects other products, including existing tools, to form a process management system. The new system makes it easier for geographically dispersed teams to communicate and run common processes. Data for each build is tracked throughout the project lifecycle and tasks are automated from one stage to another.

click here to read full submission.


Nominee: Sun Microsystems, Sun Preventive Services

Industry: High Technology

Goal: Streamline an increasingly complicated rules engine used for risk analysis.

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Business Problem: In 1999, Sun decided to build an in-house, rules engine for risk analysis. Ten Sun developers, using PERL and Java, built the system over a period of 2.5 years. As the use of the system expanded, so did its complexity, making the creation, maintenance and management of rules knowledge increasingly difficult. In addition, converting human knowledge into new rules required unique developer and program level talent to code the rules into the system.

Application Solution: Following a review of the leading business rules engine products, Sun selected Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor. The features that influenced Sun’s decision to select Blaze Advisor include its enterprise rules repository, enhanced rules metadata properties and its powerful querying capability.

Sun’s use of Blaze Advisor within its diagnostic system illustrates the power of rules in a complex customer-facing application. Blaze Advisor provides Sun with an enterprise-class Java-based solution that has been designed and customized to improve its interaction with its customers on a daily basis. This also provides a flexible framework to interact with customers for alerts across the various channels of communication.

The original system required the work of 10 Sun programmers over 2.5 years. The new system built with Blaze Advisor took seven programmers, two knowledge engineers, and two Blaze Advisor consultants 5 months to get the entire system running in production.

The core rules engine of Blaze Advisor has been faster and more efficient than the team expected. Rule creation and maintenance has been simplified and streamlined. Senior-level knowledge engineers are able to maintain complex rules packages using a built-in IDE. As expected, the non-developers have been able to use templates to make changes to the system faster, and it has allowed knowledge engineers to focus on more complex issues.

click here to read full submission.


You be the Judge

Judges from Keane chose the winners that will appear in the May issue. Vote now and tell us who you’d choose in the Application Engineering category.
Judges from Keane chose the winners that will appear in the May issue. Vote now and tell us who you’d choose in the Application Engineering category.

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