Based on Capita's approach to enterprise integration, AmberPoint's SOA Management System and BEA's AquaLogic, the project is at the heart of the DSA's channel shift to online services and is an integral part of its move towards a services based architecture to enable the sharing of data and business process through services, with other agencies within the Driver and Vehicle Operators Group (DVO).
The DSA is an Executive Agency of the British Department for Transport (DfT) and is part of the Driver, Vehicle and Operator (DVO) Group. The DVO Group has three strategic priorities — better services for customers, better compliance and better value for money. In support of these priorities, the Group is developing a one-stop service strategy, focused on the needs of its private and commercial customers. Its goal is to provide more "joined-up" customer services which make compliance simpler and which deliver significant improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. Capita IT Service is the outsourced IT services provider to the DSA.
'The DSA needed to deliver both new business processes as well as migrate to a new platform as a result of legacy and obsolescence,' said Neil Marley, Enterprise Integration Architect at Capita IT Services. 'We also wanted to ensure we were meeting the strategic objectives of the Driver and Vehicle Operators Group, particularly with regards to the channel shift to internet-based self service and the wider agenda across other departmental agencies. We knew a strategy encompassing SOA to enable the required Enterprise Integration was the way forward in terms of delivering against these objectives, and that management capabilities would be critical to this effort. After a rigorous evaluation of SOA management providers, we selected AmberPoint for its architectural advantages and its comprehensive approach to governance. We adopted them as our SOA management platform of choice.'
AmberPoint's software is based on a distributed architecture for SOA governance. Key components include agents, analytical servers and management consoles – all web services based and built from the ground up to operate in a distributed fashion. AmberPoint's SOA Management System uses a policy-based management approach that helps organisations achieve better, more adaptive end-to-end control of evolving services-based applications.
This is achieved by dynamically implementing policies in the runtime environment. "One of the benefits brought by SOA is greater adaptability in the use of outsourced IT services,' said Rob Hailstone, Director of IDC's European Service Oriented Architecture and Application Platforms service. 'However, organisations still need to keep ownership of services that they decide to outsource, and this requires solid management technology that can monitor and manage business policies such as service level agreements, exception handling and enforcement of compliance standards."
The DSA has a track record for taking the initiative in meeting IT objectives, and this project provides the DSA with the opportunity to take a further step forward and be one of the first Agencies to go live with its one stop self service applications for internal use, as well as external use by the general public, with the added ability for integration across other agencies in the department.
'The DSA's aim is to promote road safety through improving driving standards by testing drivers, motorcyclists and driving instructors through the theory test and practical driving test,' added Marley. 'It also maintains the registers of approved driving Instructors, large goods vehicle Instructors, pass plus pupils, ORDIT, fleet trainers and supervises training for learner motorcyclists. By far, the main service it provides is booking, canceling and changing dates for driving tests for the general public. With a demand level of 1.8M tests a year and candidates all learning at different speeds, the DSA is flooded with people continually phoning to find out if there are any cancellations â€“ usually from teenagers who are keen to take their test. In the past, this has been handled by call centre agents, automated speech recognition and the tactical change to the DSA legacy application to surface elements of the booking business process to the internet. One of our objectives was to move the DSA away from a silo-based approach to a single, online self-service booking application that is easier to manage, monitor, share and use with ASR and IBS being an integral part of this phase of the migration.'
The first phase of the system will go live to internal users within the next month. Then in the summer, the system will go live to external users with driving instructors being responsible for their own data online. Early internal efficiency metrics from ongoing pilots of the system from July 2005 to January 2006 show that the Internet Booking Service accounted for more than 43% of all bookings.
As a result, the use of the automated speech recognition has reduced significantly, in line with the DSA's channel shift to online self service. 'Our work with Capita will serve as a framework for adoption of SOA by other UK government agencies and indeed worldwide,' said John Hubinger, AmberPoint's CEO. 'Bringing together Capita's leading business process outsourcing experience, our technology expertise and BEA AquaLogic, we have a very powerful combination of software and services.'
Said Chris Hill, Director, Government & Defence at BEA Systems: 'Our partnership with AmberPoint has resulted in many large-scale, production-class SOA-based systems. From our joint deployments, we've seen how potent a combination BEA and AmberPoint can be for companies looking to gain more business value from SOA. By integrating their solutions with our AquaLogic product family, AmberPoint brings enterprise-class SOA management capabilities to the BEA Services Infrastructure initiative." BEA AquaLogic Service Bus delivers the service-oriented infrastructure for increased IT agility and closer alignment with business needs.
It seamlessly delivers the integration capabilities of an Enterprise Service Bus with operational service management in a single software product. This accelerates service publishing, configuration and deployment, and simplifies management of shared services across the SOA. Capita IT Services and the DSA is the latest UK customer to adopt and deploy AmberPoint's award-winning SOA software. Last month, independent industry analysts, Forrester Research, named AmberPoint as a leading SOA and Web Services company.
Capita was originally awarded a seven year contract in 1997, to support DSA's IT infrastructure. As part of the contract the company successfully developed and implemented the technology platform behind today's driving test appointment control system. In 2004 a new contract was awarded for a further six years for the continued management of hardware and software as well as the development of a new IT system that will manage the registration of driving instructors.