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Stackato Evangelism: Part Three Taking off with Stackato



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Guest Post by Tim Clayton, Marketing Business Services 

“It’s not about if the application has sold for us. Of course, we care and we want it to be a success. But as developers we just want to learn best practices and use them in upcoming projects. We are not perfect but we are getting there.”  

Computer systems are wonderful things. They allow us to communicate, shop, browse, learn, and even travel. It is a perfect and universal system—or at least it would be if all our applications spoke the same language. It is incredible to think of the chaos and difficulty that is created when computer systems are not designed to speak freely to one another, as well as the cost of finding a solution to this problem.

Take the case of airlines. We all book our flights online nowadays. It is something we take for granted. Choose the flight from the drop-down menu, pick a date, and five minutes later we are dreaming of that upcoming week in Marbella.

It may be easy for us customers but such systems can be a real problem for people such as agencies who act as intermediaries for multiple airlines. Each airline has implemented its own system, using different code, in a different language, and with a unique architecture. Any agent wanting to sell on an airline’s behalf would need their specific protocols. And working with a number of lines would mean duplicating this odious task many times over.

In an effort to combat this problem, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommended New Distribution Capability (NDC) to create a new messaging standard for use between the travel industry stakeholders. Of course, the goal is to create a pan-industry standard that benefits all. For the airlines it presented a chance to sell the extended range of services, such as priority boarding and designated seating, but the solutions presented by IT providers have typically focused on back-end applications that are intrusive to the existing system.

It was at this point that Roni Schuetz and Dimitri Hainatski created the NDC Development Team, to create a simple, universal solution to enable harmonization of the messaging. The NDC Adapter is an app that airlines can plug into their systems without changing a line of their code or the underlying algorithms. The adapter works something like the amazing Babel fish in the 5-part Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy: The airline’s systems use their own protocols but pass through the adapter to be seen in the outside world in NDC-compliant form, and vice versa. This means that the airline doesn’t have to make massive changes and the agent can deal with multiple airlines more cheaply and efficiently when he is only seeing one version of their systems at his end. It’s smart, right? And you don’t even have to shove it into your ear to make it work!

This was the beginning of the process. I picked up the story with Raja Kumar Thatte, who is working with, among others, Prasad Sharada and Sujay Maheshwari to take the NDC Adapter Cloud-native as part of the Cloud Native Application Development Team.

“So many corporations of that size are going in to the cloud that we feel that there is huge scope for bringing the power of Stackato to the transportation industry,” says Raja. But it hasn't been easy. Although the adapter was already in existence and they didn't have to build the app from the ground up, the challenges with taking something into the cloud were still huge. 

First of all, the product was in a ‘sandbox’, meaning it was a small version of the app that could be used for presentation purposes. The Cloud Native team wanted to run the app on .net 4.6 but they soon found out that the platform could not be run on Stackato. So, before setting to work on the solution, they first of all had to upgrade the WinDEA .net version to 4.6 in Stackato to even run the environment.

Once that issue was resolved, they started work on the application, only to discover that the sandbox was not stateless, so it was storing data and could therefore not work in a cloud native environment. They then had to create a stateless version so that the application could effectively be scaled to the kind of capacities necessary for huge organizations working in the cloud. The resulting .NET app can scale but it is not automatic in Stackato and needs manual scaling. But it works. 

The next step was one that took a little shift in logic to enhance the capabilities of the systems. If we imagine someone checking flights online for the best deal as “shopping” and that same person booking a flight as “ordering”, it is clear that the two processes need different amounts of computational power. There is no specific need for data to be stored about someone shopping around, but there order and purchase data needs to be backed up and archived to secure the order and protect the client. Whereas these may previously have run on one infrastructure, the clever fix for Raja’s team was to separate these two processes into different, independent parts of the app. Each can have unique functionalities and be scaled without the other being affected. 

And so we find ourselves, on the runway, ailerons in position, with an application that is almost ready to take to the skies. Once again, it amazes me the speed at which Stackato evangelism is getting theoretical ideas into workable solutions in such a short space of time. Raja himself was only introduced to Stackato in March and yet he is now part of a growing number of people within HPE who are pioneers of such new technology. I asked him how ready we are as a company, in comparison to others, to become leaders in the field. 

“We are perhaps 70% of the way there. And we are moving very fast. By the end of the year, if we keep going at this pace, we will have a select group of experts who are as skilled as anybody and the backing of such a large technology firm. The sky is the limit.” 

What seems to motivate Raja and his team is a thirst for knowledge and continual improvement. It is a case of learning more every day and sharing that information. The NDC Adapter app may be the one that really hits the height or it may not. But it is a huge step along the way and each small challenge and problem solved is more experience and capability stored up for next time.  

To hear more stories from our developers at HPE check out the HPE Developer's YouTube Channel.

About the Author


I manage the HPE Helion social media brand accounts promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds.I have put my toes in the ocean of cloud evangelism for the enterprise IT industry. But my expertise is in Social Media and Digital Marketing.

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