Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Meet Our Partners: CoralTree

A short interview with Kevin Turner, Co-Founder and Technical Director at CoralTree, a leading provider of innovative BSS, CRM and revenue management solutions. CoralTree is the company behind the Renaissance Framework, an open source, web-based interface which can be added over an old fashioned ‘green screen’ software, leveraging the latest technologies including Lightstreamer.

Let’s talk about your organization. What is your core business?

"CoralTree Systems is a leading provider of BSS solutions, which include CRM, order management, billing and inventory management software for the communications industry. We strive to offer cost-cutting, robust and reliable solutions and related services, supported by a flexible and quality-oriented company".

 Could you let us know any further information?

"CoralTree Systems is a UK-based company established in 2004. Our flagship products include daVinci, a scalable and customisable end-to-end solution that deliver sales and marketing, customer management, order management, inventory management and revenue management capabilities. daVinci BSS can be deployed in a variety of delivery models, including license, managed services, and SaaS".

"Renaissance, part of the daVinci portfolio, is a browser-based dashboard that supports call centers and retail representatives in all the typical workflows including the management of products, pricing, workforce, scheduling and service activation. daVinci also includes ‘Titan’, a Pay TV Gateway module that can be deployed to perform critical smartcard and device authorisation to media operators.

The Renaissance Framework is an open source platform for the creation and deployment of robust, scalable and secure browser based applications on IBM's Power Servers. It can be used to add user-friendly web browser interfaces to existing ‘green-screen’ applications and to create new applications, with the latest technologies, simplified procedures and a wide set of template examples".

Who is the typical user of your product or service?

"Most of our customers operate in the media and communications industry. To name a few of our customers, Kabel Deutschland, Sky Deutschland, UPC, Primacom, and Unitymedia".

What do you do for CoralTree and what are you responsible for?

"Working as the lead technical director, I ensure that CoralTree and its products remain up-to-date with, and sometimes ahead of, industry standards. I know the CoralTree software inside out, having personally developed a large proportion of it, so I have in-depth technical knowledge of the powerful capabilities of the solutions".

In which products/solutions have you integrated Lightstreamer?

"Only into the Renaissance Framework at the moment".

The Renaissance Frameworks seems a bit different among all your solutions. What is exactly Renaissance? Why you decided to produce it and release it with an open source license?

"The Renaissance Framework is an Open Source platform to simplify the development phase and the integration of robust, scalable and secure CGI-based applications on IBM’s i servers, designed to enable coders to quickly and easily build brower-based intranet applications. This way, an intuitive web-based interface can be added over an old fashioned ‘green screen’ software, leveraging the latest technologies. Despite Renaissance being the result of a huge number of man hours, CoralTree do not make commercial gain from the Framework itself - only from the applications that we design which make use of the Framework. The more people that use the Framework, the more likely it is to benefit from both bug fixes and innovative enhancements from the user community - supporting all that use the Framework".

Could you please give some additional information? How does it work, both on the server-side and the client-side?

"Applications built using the Renaissance Framework run on Apache and enable RPG-based applications to receive and deliver content to a browser. It allows users security, role-based privileges and a built-in performance monitoring console. HTML, CSS and Javascript (jQuery and jQuery UI) are also fully supported to tailor programs".

Can the applications built using the Renaissance Framework be accessible on smartphone and/or tablets?

"Yes, and the upcoming version (RNS 6.0) will be even more responsive. RNS 6.0 is in development and gives the user a revamped look and feel (more in line with current UIs like Windows 8) and a simplified component based method of development. The UI will be different in that it can be responsive to the media on which it is running, rather than how it is now (with RNS 5) where it will run on these devices but with very little change to the layout".

What functionalities are powered by Lightstreamer within the Renaissance Framework?

"Anything requiring data push updates. The Framework provides a generic data push widget that can be used for specific application functionality – for example CTI functionality that pops up user details on a call centre agents' browser when an incoming call is answered.

Long running web-services requests are performed asynchronously. For example, we have an application with a customer information dashboard. Some of the information requires web service calls to external vendors (e.g. documents, letters, invoices etc can be retrieved in PDF format). Links are provided on the browser page to these, but they only appear when the web service has completed retrieval, at which point the link is pushed to the browser via Lightstreamer. Previously this had to be done with a polling technique. Using Lightstreamer we can drastically reduce the amount of network traffic".

Are you considering extending your Lightstreamer usage in other products, be them available or still in a development phase?

"All applications build with the RNS Framework will be able to utilise Lightstreamer. The Framework provides generic components for applications to use – like tab dialogs, accordions, data grids. One such component is a data push listener. This component interacts with the Lightstreamer server, and server side code in the application can queue information to be delivered to these listeners. So, any application developed with the Framework, either by CoralTree or by third parties, can make use of the Lightstreamer server".

Why CoralTree opted for Lightstreamer among many other products, both commercial and free?

"Because it was easy to implement on the IBM Power Server platform, robust and offered good support. Others I had tried failed at least one of these criteria".

We would be very grateful if you would like to provide a short recommendation to testify your experience with Lightstreamer technology and its support team.

"At CoralTree we look for solutions that offer unique expertise to optimise our portfolio. Lightstreamer is a reliable product that is easy to implement, robust and flexible. In addition, its prompt and informative online support ensured Lightstreamer was an attractive product to enhance our best-in-class solutions. Without Lightstreamer, we would have no websocket/data push capability in our RNS based applications. I know of no other viable websocket server for our platform at the moment".

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