Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WSO2Con 2011

‎~ Last year Sep̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̨̨̨̨̨̨̨̨17th, we were at Water's edge, Battaramulla marking the 5th year of WSO2. Now after almost 1 year, we are at the same place for WSO2Con 2011 - Sri Lanka. As an interesting co-incident, today I (along with 20+ of my friends) marked my first year at WSO2 as a Software Engineer.
WSO2Con 2011 started in style today (Sep 13th), with the flavor and cultural touch of Sri Lanka. [13th, 14th, and 15th of Sep - WSO2Con Plus 12th and 16th Pre- and Post- Conference tutorials.]

The session was also live webcast through OxygenTank. The event was also actively tweeted by the audience and the event's official twitter page. There are a series of blog posts around the talks by the presenters and the audience. The presentation slides have already been shared by the speakers.

Cultural events and entertainment followed the technical sessions. WSO2Con proves that it is not a tech-only/geeky session. Rather it is a technology and networking event for the architects, intellectuals, technologists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and evangelists.

I summarize some of my favorite discussions from the WSO2Con 2011 below.

A Dynamic Telecommunications SOA platform - A WSO2 and 2° Co-creation

"A Dynamic Telecommunications SOA platform - A WSO2 and 2degrees Mobile Ltd Co-creation" was presented by Neeraj Satija, Software Development Manager, Two Degrees Mobile Limited, New Zealand, at WSO2Con 2011. It was one of the most interesting case studies from the users of WSO2 products, IMO. 2Degrees mobile has done quite an intensive research and has implemented lots of novel mobile services.

2degrees Mobile has 25% of the market of New Zealand. Neeraj started his session by presenting a brief history of wireless Telco Landscape in New Zealand and the 2degrees - WSO2 Alliance. Neeraj explained the rigorous evaluation and supplier selection approach of 2°. and how and why WSO2 was chosen among the other vendors including IBM, Oracle, and Mule, using a Capability Matrix.

The decision was to adopt SOA and light, flexible, scalable, technology stack - Hence the solution was Web Services and ESB. "Small company, open source, relatively newer, and from Sri Lanka - still had what is needed," Neeraj says ,"For us, WSO2 was the best among the all. Satisfied with WSO2, my trust and faith in WSO2 is justified. WSO2 is proved to be Scalable, light weight, and reliable."

Building a MobilePOS Solution with WSO2 Carbon and Apple iPod Touch

"Building a Mobile POS Solution with WSO2 Carbon and Apple iPod Touch" was presented by Thilanka Kiriporuwa, Head of Human Resources and Operations, Odel in the WSO2Con 2011, day-2. Kasun Indrasiri, Associate Technical Lead,  WSO2 joined Thilanka in this session. This session speaks something about ODEL which is one of the best shopping destinations in Sri Lanka and online. Hence it naturally grabbed most of our interests (as Sri Lankans).

In this session Thilanka explained how the MobilePOS application will be used in ODEL outlets, specifically the one in Alexandra Place, Colombo-07. WSO2 Mobile Application runs on Apple iPod touch and helps credit card swiping. The next time we go to ODEL, we will see this in action, providing improved user experience, eliminating those long queues during the busy Sundays.

On the other hand, Kasun was explaining the architecture of the Mobile POS solution, the technology behind it, and how WSO2 helped to achieve that. ODEL MobilePOS is exposed to the backend using JSON. The MobilePOS application was developed using Objective C. It talks to barcode scanner and credit card readers using APIs by LineaPro. Apple iPod is only the front end providing a JSON interface, where teh JSON is transformed into SOAP using WSO2 ESB. There is much more happening with the mobile gateway with WSO2 products at ODEL. Bar code scanning and credit card reading was supported by the iPod application 22 million sales have been done over the WSO2 Mobile Services Gateway solution at ODEL, so far.

"Even if you want to change the app to run on Android, nothing to change in code level for ODEL MobilePOS app, thanks to JSON," said Kasun, when answering one of the questions from the audience regarding why Apple iPhone was chosen over other mobile platforms such as Android. He also explained how the reporting component from WSO2 is used to generate various reports at ODEL. A white paper on this ODEL case study can be downloaded from the ODEL Case Study page in

Using WSO2 as a Mobile Services Platform

"Using WSO2 as a Mobile Services Platform" was a session presented by Simon Bilton, Head of Professional Services, Gödel Technologies Europe at WSO2Con 2011, which was yet another interesting user story of WSO2. In this session, Simon discussed how 'Transport for London' uses WSO2 ESB as the main platform for mobile services.

"Schematic of ESB solution with WSO2 ESB and WSO2 BAM as the core components..", Simon explained the architecture. Simon also showed a mini-version of the deployment diagram with WSO2 Components drawn on a paper, to the audience. He mentioned, "It is really huge to include all of them." Simon also foresees that WSO2 BAM2 will eliminate the remaining issues that the current system has.

"Open Source to the Rescue!", Simon points to the pure open source nature nature of WSO2, and how it was extended to meet the specific needs of their enterprise. "Why think outside the box, if the box can think itself?" asked Simon.

Quality - The key to successful SOA

Charitha Kankanamge, Senior Technical Lead and Manager, WSO2 did a session on "Quality - The key to successful SOA" at WSO2Con 2011. The session mainly discussed about the differences between the traditional QA and QA for SOA, and the challenges faced. The talk was followed by an interactive Q/A, where the audience shared their opinions regarding the talk, and discussed them with Charitha. Charitha didn't fail to point out that unlike the traditional testing, SOA testing requires serious research itself. Azeez pointed out that this enables the QA engineers in SOA to switch to development easily, and vice versa.

"When defining a testing methodology for your SOA, you should have a good understanding of services, mediation, and composition." pointed out Charitha. He mentioned that the complexity of SOA should not let the quality to be compromised. "Your QA team and Dev team should work together for your SOA testing. Everyone is responsible for the quality". You need a proper unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests, where some of them are automated, and SOA testing. Charitha also pointed out that there is no "automated manual tests". SOA testing over the cloud produces additional set of complexity.

"Discussing Testing is atleast a 10 hours task," Charitha announced after running out of time badly at his session, which everyone was actively involved.

Engineering to take over the world 
"Engineering to take over the world" by Samisa Abeysinghe, Vice President, Engineering, WSO2 was surely the best among the WSO2Con sessions, I would say. Samisa started his talk with a caution "This is just from my head and only from my head, and the definitions are not from Wikipedia or elsewhere." The talk was mostly the words of wisdom from his experience at WSO2.

Engineers are known for their analytical skills too, apart from the technical skills. I recall, during my level2, someone from the industry (sorry, I can't recall his name exactly) recommended engineers to follow an M.A in Economics degree. He suggested that only engineers can be good economists. 

We learn a lot of pure science in school and university. The applications of the science starts when we are at work. It is not just for engineering, I feel. It can be even marketing, sales, . You can learn 'Marketing Strategy' in school. But the 'Applied Marketing Strategy' starts when you apply the concepts and the theory in practice to the industry.

Samisa explained the support model of WSO2. As a pure open source company, WSO2 gains the revenue from the paid customers, who pay for the support. ""Feel their pain - Go to them; Listen to them; See what they do; Deal with what they deal," Samisa explained the secret of delivering the best support." "We do not just do what users want. Rather we invent solutions for their real problems." Users are not always correct. This was also mentioned in the key note of Sanjiva.

"One product - One build command - One team." We have the Carbon platform, and many products built on top of that. Also the products as services over the cloud, where Stratos becomes the cloud middleware platform. "One" is important. "It is one team with many sub teams. But the whole is greater than the sum" Samisa explained the synergy of the WSO2 team. We have the Team - "WSO2 Team", and we just have sub teams, and no departments. "At WSO2 we don't refer to the people as #resources. People are people."

"Our way is Apache way - Open - Passion & Commitment, Community, Respect, and Meritocracy." "In engineering, everyone can design, code, and test" Our inspiration comes from 'the team' itself. Existing and potential clients, academia, and competitors too inspire us. Samisa's talk was really interesting, with loads of photos taken from WSO2 and the team, giving a snapshot of the life of WSO2ers' life to the audience.

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