Building Components in anBy John McCormick | Posted 2006-03-06 Email Print
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The TransUnion subsidiary's pioneering service-oriented architecture approach to software development helps it quickly build credit reporting and scoring applications.
TrueCredit offers consumers credit reporting, credit scoring and related financial services through a series of Web applications on both its own and its partners' Web sites.
Six years ago, the company was looking for a way to build credit reporting and scoring applications that could be used by more than one company. It started out using J2EE, the enterprise edition of the Java development platform; JBoss development tools; Resin application servers; and a homegrown communications protocol that allowed the components they developed to message each other. Its hardware platform at the time was based on 32-bit Intel Pentium processors from California Digital.
But within a few years, it was starting to run into some constraints. The company needed a larger memory module to support the 100 services it had developed, a more robust set of application development tools to develop components faster and more efficiently, and a way to monitor all the components that it had built.
"We got to the point where we were spending as much time maintaining our infrastructure as we were implementing functional business requirements," Metzger says.
The company set out to find a better application development platform. And, in 2003, it moved to BEA's WebLogic Java-based package.
The software suite, according to Blake Connell, a BEA product marketing director, includes a stack of products, including WebLogic Server, a Java enteprise edition-based applications server; WebLogic Integration, a tool that helps developers integrate software; WebLogic Portal, a way for people to easily access applications; and
WebLogic Workshop, a set of developer tools for building applications. The entire suite runs on BEA JRockit and other compatible Java Virtual Machines, which translate Java code to operating systems and servers.
TrueCredit had looked at other products, including IBM's WebSphere, but, Metzger says, it felt at the time that BEA was significantly ahead in areas that were important to TrueCredit from a software stack perspective, such as orchestrating the workflow of components.
WebLogic Integration has a workflow engine, which helps a company create a schematic of its components and diagram how and when those components are supposed to interact with other components.
This engine allows TrueCredit to define workflow processes inside its applications, many of which are forms-based—meaning that consumers request credit information from TrueCredit and its partners by filling out online forms that ask a series of questions. How a consumer goes from one question to the next is the workflow. WebLogic Integration can set up many of these processes.
"Rather than taking an approach of finding an application server from one vendor and a workflow system from another," Metzger explains, "BEA was furthest along in having all of those capabilities from a single source."
TrueCredit: Charging Ahead with SOA