Case Studies

Independence Blue Cross

The Philadelphia area's leading Medical Insurance Provider was searching for a way to query and logically update their internal enterprise PCM (Patient Care Management) System using messaging middleware software. A web portal front-end served as the source and recipient of the messaging, packaging queries and authorization updates from area hospitals and healthcare providers. The back-end internal PCM system offered limited communication interfacing due to non-current versioning. Traditional methods such as messaging API, dynamic libraries and socket communication were not alternatives with the existing, character based version.

AppNation was faced with the task of developing an alternative integrated solution that would be stable, scaleable, seamless and lightening-fast. The requirements of this solution included parsing and validating requests, executing logical data algorithms, querying and updating databases, and packaging a response to the end web user. Additionally, all processing stages mandated logging for error handling and debugging. AppNation had to complete this processing within a fraction of a second to avoid lengthy responses to the requestor. Finally, this process had to run with no human intervention, yet guard itself for stability in unforeseen circumstances.

After considering several alternatives, appNation designed and developed a self-monitoring interface communication mechanism in the form of a liaison wrapper. this wrapper allowed communication between the internal, proprietary PCM system and the messaging middleware. Once triggered, the client's existing system could make requests to a wrapper that would interface with the messaging software through a custom developed API. Simply put, appNation's custom solution could speak two languages and be the liaison between the old-world PCM system and the new-world Messaging system. This mechanism ensured proper operational status with on-the-fly correction ability that required no human intervention.

The end result was a solution that exceeded the client's greatest performance expectations. Request-to-response times were swift. Queries and updates were completed in near immediate time frames. Production stress showcased the system's scalability with no noticeable degradation in process execution time. The lights-out stability offered peace of mind to the client's IT staff and end users alike. Currently, AppNation's system is successfully serving over a hundred area hospitals and healthcare providers.

Iron Mountain Records Management

The nation's largest records management company was looking to upgrade the web interface to their transactional ordering system. The company already employed a WebSpeed-based web interface but desired a cross-divisional, scalable, and more efficient design. They decided to setup a portal interface, purchased and initially configured through a third-party vendor, for the cross-divisional interface but still needed a solution for each division of the company. The largest of these divisions, responsible for hardcopy storage, desired a custom-built system based upon the existing Progress databases and business logic.

AppNation was faced with the challenge of designing a search engine for assets stored with any division of the company while implementing a new user security structure to provide a more flexible and maintainable methodology for determining for a given asset which users would be able to view the asset meta-data and, as a logical extension, which users would be able to perform other functions such as ordering the physical asset or editing the meta-data describing the asset. The solution had to be extensible, robust, fast, and secure, operating transactionally in a web-based environment while integrating with the existing character interface and batch processes as well as the new portal interface.

AppNation researched several possibilities for the implementation of a cross-divisional search engine before proposing an Oracle Text-based solution that would allow the indexing of assets with meta-schema determined by the records management company while also permitting the indexing of assets with customer-defined meta-schema. AppNation then took the lead in developing the security model that will soon be retrofitted throughout the other applications in use at the client site. After designing, building, stress-testing, and refining this search engine and security model, AppNation took the lead role in working hand-in-hand with a core group of employees and another consulting group to implement a new transactional online system. The team built this system around the existing Progress databases using Java middleware and the Apache Struts framework, an XML-based policy for communicating between Java and Progress, and a combination of Java Server Page (JSP) and JavaScript for the user interface. Moreover, the HTML interface produced via JSP and JavaScript conforms to XHTML specifications and incorporates Dynamic HTML (DHTML) techniques such as JavaScript object implementation, DOM (Document Object Model) manipulation, and stylesheet attribute modification.

Using these techniques and technologies, AppNation provided the critical design, development, and project leadership experience to exceed client expectations in terms of quality and efficiency. In cooperation with a small group of employees and another consulting group, AppNation was able to build the core of a flexible, powerful, responsive, and extensible system within five months. AppNation is currently continuing to assist the client by adding new functionality and services to enhance the web product, working with the client's business analysts to define requirements and designs for a wide range of projects, and occasionally acting as extra development resources for critical projects in addition to the web application.