To gain a lead in a market that has suffered a slump recently, Pam Golding Properties (PGP) has turned to technology to get its systems running properly, better serve its customers and to create an efficient working environment for its staff.
"We were struggling with our online systems because they were not integrating efficiently. We needed to link our web services with our database and various applications but soon realised our systems were very disjointed and were linked by an array of applications that just didn't make sense," says Henry Potgieter, infrastructure manager for PGP.
Bytes Systems Integration (SI) was chosen to make sense of the various applications and document the existing applications to allow all the systems to integrate seamlessly. The project which started in March 2008 was successfully completed five months later and achieved the integration and logical links between the database and the various applications and web services that PGP needed.
Bytes SI built an application that logically grouped the web services and created a services orientated architecture (SOA) layer that sits above the database and dynamically controls the links between the various applications and the database.
"When we started at PGP in the beginning of 2008, its application business logic resided in many systems and was tightly integrated into those systems. As a result its IT systems were difficult to use, slow and expensive to grow with the businesses needs," says Willem Odendaal, senior architect at Bytes SI.
One of the main goals of the solution was to document how PGP's current IT systems are built so that future systems can be easily built to this standard. The SOA layer implemented achieved this level of standard and will dictate the management principles for the future. In this way the collective teams have lead the way and implemented a solution that creates a benchmark and standard for all future applications to be built on within PGP.
The solution really paves the way forward for all future implementations as it has developed a logical and powerful foundation for future technology developments.
"We set out with a small team to start implementing the SOA architecture at Pam Golding. But as with any SOA architecture it is critical to have a successful pilot project, so for our pilot project we focused on providing services to be used by PGP internal intranet web site.
"The intranet website is used daily by hundreds of PGP offices around the country. During the pilot project we followed agile development practices like SCRUM and Continuous Integration with great success," adds Odendaal.
The application provides an integration layer that effectively links the database to the various web services.
The system is built on a .Net platform and makes use of web services, factories, cruise control for continuous integration and an NUnit testing application and uses SOA as the management principle.
According to Potgieter: "Our IT services have already seen marked benefits since having the SOA layer in place."
These benefits include reduced time to deliver on projects due to a well documented set of SOA services that address the most commonly used business requirements.
The project cost has also been reduces, with SOA allowing the company to hide complexity, simplify project deliverables and therefore reduce costs.
There is also a greater opportunity for integration.