Singapore’s Upcoming ERP to Embrace Event-centric Architecture

With enterprises, industries, and even entire cities now on the 'smart' route, data sharing in real-time has never been more crucial. IoT hinges on the flow of real-time data between various devices, gateways, and data systems, without which smart cars, factories, and smart devices and systems everywhere can hardly be expected to suitably function. For industries like capital markets and commercial aviation, real-time responsiveness is even more mission-critical.

However, legacy technology architecture and infrastructure were not built to meet the needs of today’s businesses. Technology systems have historically been designed for static data, not moving, dynamic data; batch processing as opposed to continuous processing. There is a need to rethink basic system design.

Event-centric Architecture

At Cloud Expo Asia, Phil Scanlon, vice president of Solace Corporation, APAC & Japan, commented on the trend towards real-time, agile systems.

"We're seeing a move away from what we call 'data-centric,' where you put everything in a database, and then you go to the database for information. That doesn't scale when you get to a certain point, you run out of bandwidth."

To get around this, Solace is proposing an event-centric architecture.

With the Solace PubSub+ Platform, "the first event management and streaming platform," enterprises can fully realize the benefits of the event-centric architecture. The platform makes it easier to define, document, discover, and stream events across cloud, on-premises, and IoT environments.

"'Pubsub' is an industry term where you publish information for the subscribers who are interested in that information; [it is] a distribution of information," said Scanlon. "The Solace PubSub+ Event Portal is to events what API portals are to APIs - technology that enables the full lifecycle creation and management of events across the distributed enterprise."

In the Solace Event Mesh, everything is an event, and everything is "streaming." Producers of events (whether they are people, apps, or devices, publish their events) and consumers of events (whether they are people, apps, or devices) discover and subscribe to the events they need to be aware of. When events occur, the relevant ones are automatically streamed to the subscriber so that the right actions can be taken.

Scanlon elaborated further. "Our Event Broker can be connected across environments, geographies, and technologies to create an Event Mesh, which essentially makes it simpler to dynamically, reliably, and securely distribute events across your entire infrastructure...  We propagate the information automatically, so we get the information from where it's happening to where it needs to get to."

What this means for CDOs is that they can put in the infrastructure to cater for moving information not only between the different environments but also for multiple different use cases.

Real-time Electronic Road Pricing

Having been in the data movement business for over 10 years, Solace's background in capital markets and foreign exchange, moving vast volumes of pricing data across very globally distributed applications, meant that for them, "real-time was sub-millisecond or microsecond."

Little wonder then that when Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) needed real-time bus information systems more than five years ago, Solace technology was top of mind for LTA.

With the LTA’s impending rollout of a next-generation Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system in 2020, Solace's data movement technology has once again been selected as a critical infrastructure component.

Currently, road tolling is done with a dumb car device with a cash balance, which basically just deducts money as the car moves through different tolling points.

With the next generation ERP system, the goal is to overcome the constraints of physical gantries by facilitating the transmission of real-time data movement between sensors and vehicles.

The new onboard smart devices transmit a real-time position back over to the LTA so that the LTA is then able to not only implement real-time road tolling but also finer-grained road pricing. Also, because two-way communication is now established with the smart devices, LTA can send information back to the vehicle and provide real-time notifications such as road conditions, suggest alternate routes to avoid road tolling or congestion, etc. Based on real-time data, the LTA would be able to provide a much higher level of service to citizens.

Challenges to Event-centric Thinking

Scanlon saw ignorance as being the biggest challenge for organizations to move to an event-centric architecture.

"When people's mindsets are very API-focused, very point-to-point, it's a big leap of faith to go to 'I publish something, and someone could or could not be listening for that information.' So I think helping people understand the value in the right way to apply event-based systems is very important."

To that end, Solace has established Solace Event Driven Academy, a training program for driving community building and thought leadership.

Also, for organizations where the weight of legacy infrastructure, the complexity, and cost of event-centric architectures have always exceeded the benefits, Scanlon felt that Solace offered a complete solution.

"We've basically made a single integrated platform, and that standard edition is available free. Rather than restricting it, we've made it so that you can run it in a fully available configuration even in production for free. It has all of the features - encryption, security fully featured. It's just limited to 10,000 messages per second, which for a lot of people, is more than enough to get started with… You're also not locked in with Solace since we're using open standards... We are a complete event management platform."

If the peer review ratings on Gartner are anything to go by, Solace’s clients seem to agree.