We built Longo's a centralized biztalk app to monitor processes with minimal IT effort.

Project

Biztalk Development

Industry

Retail

Technology

.NET, BizTalk Server, SQL Server

BACKGROUND

Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc. is a family-owned business founded by Tommy, Joe and Gus Longo in 1956. Currently, the company owns and operates 15 grocery stores in the Greater Toronto Area. The company also owns and operates Grocery Gateway, a web-based online storefront (see www.GroceryGateway.com).

The Challenge

As a medium-sized retail company, the nature of Longo’s business requires a broad variety of disparate internal and external vendor software systems collaborating with one another. Historically, many of the integrations between these systems were done by the software vendors involved and were tightly coupled making support by the Longo’s IT team quite challenging. The data exchange was accomplished using several batch processes running nightly and often required a significant amount of IT support. Furthermore, interfaces between different external vendors were not centralized and required collaboration between those external vendors in order to develop and maintain data exchange systems. This non-centralized approach required a great deal of development and operational support hours on the part of Longo’s and external vendor IT staff and made the process of adding or removing vendors from the system overly complex and time consuming.

The Solution

In 2004, these concerns reached a breaking point and Longo’s decided to change their client-server ERP solution with a proven real-time retail commercial thin client ERP. This new retail application required a central system which would centrally supply all other systems with key data (i.e. product IDs, customer IDs, etc.) while accumulating ordering and retail activity and managing all data exchange between other systems.
Longo’s encountered two main obstacles in linking a new central retail system to other Longo’s applications and subsystems or to external vendor systems: the complexity of data exchange processes, especially with vendor systems (B2B scenarios); and the variety of systems technologies running both on Linux and Windows OS, and implemented in Oracle, MS SQL Server and legacy applications using comma-separated files. What was required was a system which would both connect all diverse systems and provide the implementation of intricate business process scenarios, and on the other hand, would centralize process control into a single place and be robust and easy to administer. This solution chosen to achieve these objectives was Microsoft BizTalk® Server 2006.

To implement the BizTalk solution Longo’s worked with Whitecap Canada Inc., a Microsoft GOLD Certified Partner with extensive experience in building BizTalk applications. Whitecap worked with senior management of Longo’s to identify two intertwined business visions: one for the interfacing of diverse systems and intricate business process scenarios; and another for the centralization and easy administration of process controls. Both visions embodied significant streamlining of current practices.

The Results

With the first implementation of BizTalk Server 2006 worldwide, Longo’s has been successful in creating a robust, flexible automated real-time integration service between a range of internal and external systems. This new service-oriented system replaced a number of loosely coupled legacy applications and resulted in considerable savings in IT staff development and operational support hours. The new system includes a centralized system to monitor all the data exchange processes with minimal administrative effort and is a scalable foundation for future business expansion.

Key benefits included:

  • Plug-and-play capability with additional applications and interfaces
  • Centralized vendor data-exchange administration
  • The ability to run multiple POS interfaces from different vendors
  • Real-time monitoring of business interfaces and activity
  • Automated notification of system issues and errors

Longo’s also reported great satisfaction with their project partner Whitecap Canada Inc. Says Zico Sarmento, Manager, Software Development, and BizTalk project lead at Longo’s: “Not only did Whitecap bring a high level of technical expertise to the project, but they accommodated our need to have a Whitecap project lead working with us at our location. They were great not only in terms of the ability to deliver effective solutions, but they also embodied the values of honesty and trustworthiness that Longo’s looks for in a business partner. Whitecap was great to work with!”

The next planned project stage will introduce new enhancements such as a real-time monitoring of critical message and business performance metrics using the human workflow scenario provided in the BizTalk Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) in conjunction with reporting functions provided by Microsoft Server 2005 Reporting Services.

Technology Summary

The following Microsoft technologies were used in the project:

  • Microsoft BizTalk Server® 2006 and its components: the BizTalk Rules Engine, the BizTalk Enterprise Adapters. FILE, FTP, HTTP, OracleDb, SMTP, SOAP, SQL,WSE 2.0 and custom adapter called Schedule.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005
  • Microsoft SharePoint Services
  • Microsoft Webservices
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000
  • Microsoft Windows 2003
  • Microsoft Active Directory

Delivery Method

Whitecap provided a solutions architect and project lead to work with Longo’s senior management and key stakeholders to lead the development process. High-level architecture and design were undertaken via co-operation between the Whitecap and Longo’s teams working together.

Let's
Chat

Let’s start reimagining your business — contact us.