RAC becomes the motorists’ champion

Creating a flexible, scalable architecture to support new services for customers

Published on 03-Sep-2013

"We’ll continue to work with Prolifics as we move forward on our journey. Their managed service offering is an attractive option to help supplement our in-house resources as part of the centre of excellence. We’re excited about the next steps – particularly developing new mobile and tablet applications that will make use of the integration hub to provide even more valuable information and services to our members while they’re on the move." - John Moe, Chief Technology Officer, the RAC

Customer:
RAC

Industry:
Travel & Transportation

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
IBM SmartCloud Monitoring, Cloud Computing, Service Oriented Architecture, SmartCloud - Solutions, Web Services

IBM Business Partner:
Prolifics

Overview

The RAC is one of the UK’s best known roadside assistance and motoring services companies, with more than 4,000 employees and 7 million members. Under the ownership of the Carlyle Group, the organisation aims to grow and diversify its business by developing a wider range of services for motorists.

Business need:
The RAC wants to be known not only as a breakdown assistance company, but as a champion for UK motorists. However, its plan to create innovative new services for its members was hindered by an inflexible IT architecture.

Solution:
Prolifics helped the RAC build a central integration hub to replace its complex web of point-to-point interfaces between systems – simplifying and accelerating service development and maintenance.

Benefits:
Cuts time-to-market for new integration services from 6-8 weeks to just 10 days. Reduces software maintenance costs at least 50 percent. Will deliver a full return on investment within 12 months.

Case Study

The RAC is one of the UK’s best known roadside assistance and motoring services companies, with more than 4,000 employees and 7 million members. Under the ownership of the Carlyle Group, the organisation aims to grow and diversify its business by developing a wider range of services for motorists.

“We want to be known as the motorists’ champion,” explains John Moe, the RAC’s Chief Technology Officer. “We already offer much more than just breakdown assistance, and our strategy is to continue to develop and launch new services for our members at an ever faster rate.”

To support this strategy, the RAC needed to rethink its IT architecture. Over many years of growth and acquisition, it had deployed or inherited dozens of different IT systems, which were linked together by a variety of integration technologies and a complex web of more than 500 point-to-point interfaces. It also needed to manage more than 180 external interfaces for communicating with suppliers and partners.

Steering towards IT transformation
Michael Clayton, Lead Enterprise Architect at the RAC, comments: “With such a complex integration landscape, it was very difficult to make changes quickly and safely. Doing development work on one system would almost inevitably have an impact on other systems, which meant that supporting new business requirements became complex and expensive.”

The RAC decided to transform its IT architecture by creating a central hub that would handle integration for all its systems – ultimately eliminating all 680 existing interfaces. With a single platform for integration, the company would be able to introduce new services and orchestrate new processes much more quickly. It would also be able to replace legacy components with more modern systems without disrupting the business.

“Ultimately, the aim is to use cloud-based solutions to provide many of the services we need,” says Michael Clayton. “With our old architecture, this would have been impractical; but with an integration hub, we will be able to mix on-premise and cloud services in whatever combination best suits the business.”

Accelerating development with Prolifics
The first step was to find a partner to help with the design, development, implementation and support of the integration hub.

“Our immediate team has a solid background in integration technologies, but we needed an experienced partner to help us get the project moving quickly,” comments John Moe. “Prolifics was an ideal choice. Its resources and range of capabilities not only provided a great team of consultants on the ground, but also gave us access to experts to help us with deeper technical challenges. We were also able to utilise patterns and templates that Prolifics had developed during other engagements, which helped to accelerate our deployment significantly.”

As the platform for the integration hub, the RAC selected IBM® WebSphere® MQ and IBM WebSphere Message Broker (now known as IBM Integration Bus), with IBM SmartCloud® Monitoring providing insight to help maximise performance and availability.

“In our view, WebSphere Message Broker was the most mature and comprehensive integration platform on the market, which was vital because we have such a broad range of requirements,” says Michael Clayton. “We needed strong support for integration with our existing legacy platforms, as well as the ability to integrate with the latest web services and cloud technologies.”

Driving integration forward
Standardising on an IBM WebSphere platform has enabled the RAC to cut its licensing costs for integration software by around 50 percent, as well as significantly reduce maintenance costs by enabling the elimination of hundreds of point-to-point interfaces. As a result, the company is set to achieve a full return on investment for the integration hub within 12 months of deployment.

The new platform is now live, and the RAC team is mid-way through the process of migrating its legacy systems into the hub. It has also already begun launching new services – and time-to-market has been significantly accelerated.

“One good example is the redevelopment of our website,” comments Michael Clayton. “The hub has allowed us to completely decouple the website itself from the backend systems, so the web development team has been able to focus on building the site itself instead of worrying about the impact on other systems. It’s a much quicker, more flexible and less risky process.”

John Moe adds: “On average, we’re now able to bring new services online within about ten days, instead of six to eight weeks. This not only benefits us and our members, but also our partners – it’s much easier for third parties to integrate their systems with our hub than with each of our systems individually.”

The performance of the hub is also increasingly allowing the RAC to exchange information between its systems in real time, rather than relying on overnight batch processes. This helps to provide a more seamless, multi-channel experience for members. For example, if a customer phones the call centre to purchase a membership and then logs into the RAC website, they will be able to see the details of their membership instantly.

Getting the business on board
“We’ve been able to deliver tangible improvements very quickly,” says John Moe. “Almost as soon as the hub went live, we were able to show the business its benefits. Business engagement is really important to the success of integration projects, because if they don’t understand what you’re trying to do and how it will benefit them, it’s impossible to gain momentum.

“We’ve been very successful at communicating the advantages in a language that the business understands – instead of talking about SOAs and ESBs. Now the main question we hear from our executives isn’t ‘what is it?’ – it’s ‘where is it?’ They’re sold on the concept and they want their department to see the benefits as soon as possible.”

Creating a centre of excellence
To keep the initiative moving forward, the RAC has set up a centre of excellence for integration, which aims to turn integration into a business-as-usual activity. This is seen as a vital stepping stone on the journey towards a more cloud-based infrastructure.

“We’ll continue to work with Prolifics as we move forward on our journey,” comments John Moe. “Their managed service offering is an attractive option to help supplement our in-house resources as part of the centre of excellence. We’re excited about the next steps – particularly developing new mobile and tablet applications that will make use of the integration hub to provide even more valuable information and services to our members while they’re on the move.”

About Prolifics
For over 35 years, Prolifics has experienced continued growth and recognition for its expertise as a global IT services company. Prolifics provides end-to-end services including architectural advisement, design, development, deployment and testing of BPM, Integration, Security, and Content and Collaboration solutions and has garnered several awards for technical excellence.

Our mission is to be a trusted technology partner to our customers, capable of assisting across the entire software development lifecycle. By combining application frameworks and prebuilt components as well as custom development expertise and a global delivery model, Prolifics helps organizations decrease risk in complex software investments while improving time to market through project management and oversight.

To learn more about products, services and solutions from Prolifics, please visit www.prolifics.com

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
WebSphere MQ, WebSphere Message Broker for Multiplatforms, IBM SmartCloud Monitoring, IBM Integration Bus

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM United Kingdom Limited, PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO6 3AU. Produced in the United Kingdom. September 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, IBM SmartCloud and WebSphere are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml IBM and Prolifics are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Prolifics makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.