Integration Hub Unlocks the Future for RAC

 

RAC: Established 1897

John Moe
Chief Technology Officer
RAC, U.K.

The RAC is a 116-year-old company that was set up to service the young motorists, as they were, in the late 19th century. Since then, we’ve been providing breakdown services for those motorists in the U.K.

Our customers are now using a range of channels to come to us. Traditionally it was just the telephone. We’re now finding that they’ll ring us on their cell phones. They’ll also contact us over the Internet with a range of mobile applications that they’re now using. We’ve started introducing new technologies where we can get the cars to talk to us as a company.

About two years ago, the RAC decided to do a complete refresh of the services offered to its members. To do that, we needed to look at our underlying systems and make sure that we can provide those new services going forward. What we discovered is that we had a whole range of old legacy systems, some which were 10, 15, 20 years old. Others were brand new. And they’re all quite built in such a way that they all work separately, and over time people would connect them together.

There are over 500 point-to-point connections within our estate—about 60-70 traditional applications. We’re also connected to a number of business partners and customers, and we had about another 180 of these.

Our business was very keen to offer this whole new range of services to our members, and to do that, they wanted new systems in, placed quite quickly. We needed something that was robust and scalable, so that when we started growing over the next year or so in a way we’ve never seen before, we’re then able then to harness the scalability and the performance of the toolset that we went for.

The concept that we took for what we’re doing is a single integration hub across the whole business. We looked at the integration technologies that were out there that we felt could take us into this future and protect our past. For us, there was only one solution in the end, and that was IBM’s Message Broker.

The RAC chose Prolifics to be our partner in this area because they could demonstrate a long track record in delivering the types of systems that we’re looking to do. We found that we had a simplified set of connections between our systems that were more robustly built than they had been before. We’ve gone with the MQ for messaging to complement Message Broker itself.

So the approach we took was very much an agile approach. We built a stable Message Broker instance that allowed us to add new services quicker. The number of incidents and problems we’ve had with it has dropped by about 90% on those areas that we’ve now changed already. We expect the same to happen with the rest of it.

One of the benefits that has always been stated for SOA is the ability to re-use services. And there’s now accelerating development of new services. It’s also reducing the cost of developing each new one. So whereas before, it was taking three or four weeks to develop each service, we’re now getting that down to 10 days. We believe we can get it down further. And plus we automate that in the future.

Prolifics have been the people who have enabled that to happen. Without them, we’d not have delivered what we had to deliver. As far as our business is concerned, it enables them to channel the information to the right backing systems, and to communicate with the right third parties to give the services back to the members that we have. So the consistency of experience that we’re wanting to offer them, the ability to capture all the information that we need to to give the right answers back, that’s all been enabled by the hub.

So my feeling is that it is the key that’s unlocked the future for us.

IBM Products Used in this Solution:

IBM WebSphere Message Broker
IBM WebSphere MQ
IBM Tivoli OMNIbus
IBM SmartCloud Monitoring
DB2 Enterprise Server