Case Study - Air Services

Introduction

Airservices Australia's specific responsibilities include airspace management, air traffic flow management, air traffic control, traffic and flight information, navigation services, aeronautical telecommunications, aeronautical information, search and rescue (SAR) alerting and aviation rescue and fire-fighting. Other functions include the provision of consultancy and management services related to legislated functions and the provision of services and facilities both within and outside Australian territory.

Major customers include Australian and foreign based airlines, aircraft owners and operators, commercial and private pilots, capital city, regional and general aviation airports, and the department of defense.

Airservices Australia derives more than 90% of its revenue from facilities and service charges and handles in excess of two million flights per annum, generating total annual revenues in excess of $500M.

At the core of Airservices Australia's operational systems is a Flight Charging System, responsible for the determination of charges and fees applicable to each flight or each component of a flight within Australian and Honiara airspace. These charges and fees are based on a complex set of business rules that to date have been hard coded into an aging, COBOL based, legacy application running of a VMS/VAX platform. Maintenance of this system had become an obvious constraint on the business, restricting its ability to respond to changing conditions, constraining the availability of the underlying hard-coded business rules to other business systems, and forcing costly IT involvement for even the simplest of changes.

In response to these issues, Airservices Australia elected to undertake the development of a replacement Flight Charging System as part pf an overall transformation of its core business systems.

Key Objectives

The key objectives of the replacement Flight Charging System were:

  • To accurately and fully implement the current business rules applicable to charges for facilities and services;
  • To provide maximum flexibility for changing and/or adding new business rules, products, services and charging regimes in the future;
  • To allow the business rules to be reused for other business groups and applications for purposes such as revenue modeling and product testing;

The Solution

In partnership with ATOS Origin (a global systems integrator), Object Connections was chosen to develop a replacement Charging System application and to integrate its flagship product, Common Knowledge, as the core underlying business rules management and automation platform. Using a J2EE architecture based on the WEBLogic Application Server and an Oracle 9i database, a high performance enterprise solution was delivered, capable of processing in excess of 12000 flights per hour.

The business rules used by Airservices Australia to determine charges for facilities and services are arguably one of their most valuable and important corporate assets. The adoption of Common Knowledge has enabled the transformation of this asset, from an inflexible, difficult to maintain legacy, into a highly flexible and maintainable set of rules that can be rapidly adapted to changing business conditions, legislative constraints and market pressures. It has also dramatically reduced (and in many cases removed) the dependency on IT resources as part of the change process, allowing changes to be deployed in a timely and cost effective manner.

Using Common Knowledge Designer for rules creation and maintenance and the Common Knowledge Java SDK for runtime evaluation, immediate benefits were delivered to Airservices Australia. Realizing the flexibility of the business rules now being managed and automated by Common Knowledge; significant enhancements (previously avoided due to the inhibitive complexity and cost) were made to the rules prior to project completion. The potential of the Common Knowledge Designer environment for prototyping and scenario analysis was also realized and an immediate effort was made to develop a revenue modeling environment based on the now reusable and maintainable business rules; an opportunity not previously feasible due to the hard-coded, dedicated nature of the previous legacy system.

Hosted within a J2EE application server and deployed on a quad CPU (Alpha) Compaq ES40, the Common Knowledge SDK is capable of processing in excess of 500 flights per second. This far outweighs current requirements and guarantees future scalability in both business rules complexity and flight processing volumes.

Key Benefits

  • Over 350 complex charging rules represented in an intuitive and highly maintainable format;
  • Business rules are maintained visually using Common Knowledge Designer without the need for costly re-development or IT effort;
  • Business rules can be easily shared across applications and departments;
  • Application of rules is portable between PC, midrange and mainframe based systems;
  • Rule updates can be implemented in hours rather than weeks.

Conclusion

Business rules are one of an organisation’s most valuable assets. The strategic management of an organisations business rules can lead to improved levels of competitiveness and efficiency, cost reductions, faster response to external demands, more consistent interactions and higher levels of customer retention.

Using a highly visual and intuitive approach, Common Knowledge has allowed those people within Airservices Australia most responsible for policy decisions to manage and control the charging business rules.

If your organization's business rules currently exist in policy manuals, computer programs, employees heads and assorted documents, then perhaps its time you started making your business rules your business with Common Knowledge.

Object Connections

www.objectconnections.com
Object Connections is an innovative Australian-based business intelligence software vendor, providing a range of rule-based software components and solutions for the implementation of intelligent, adaptive business systems.

ATOS Origin (now Fujitsu Australia)

www.fujitsu.com.au/
Atos Origin is a leading international information technology services provider and a global supplier of business consulting and technology integration services. The company operates in over 30 countries.