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Architecture & Approach

Adaptable Architecture

Today’s energy trading, scheduling and risk management
solutions must provide a high degree of flexibility to accommodate/adapt to the rapid changes and evolution of business requirements and processes resulting from deregulation and the regional market design initiatives.

Many organizations - whose current systems are often a combination of multiple, disparate applications combining proprietary, customized and packaged solutions - are not able to provide the efficiencies, interoperation, and integration needed to be successful in the new marketplace.

These fragmented systems, riddled with functional gaps and a lack of integration, are characterized by poor ease-of-use and redundant data entry - a particularly undesirable characteristic of increased operational risk.

As a result of the patchwork of applications, businesses found they had to adapt their processes and operations to accommodate the functionality of the applications, rather than having applications that facilitated and adapted to efficient business processes.

SoftSmiths understands the challenges facing customers from both an operations as well as a technology infrastructure perspective. Our in-depth industry expertise and hands-on experience working within the industry and in developing and deploying large, high-volume trading, scheduling and accounting systems enables us to create the best and most cost-effective transaction management solutions for our customers.

SoftSmiths’ solutions architecture is designed to mold the applications to the customer’s business operations, rather than molding the business operations to the application, in order to best meet the customer’s stated objectives with minimal operational impact.

Based on open, industry standards and technology, SoftSmiths products are developed utilizing proven technologies and designed using a modular approach composed of key logical architectural layers. It is a solution that is configurable at many levels, and designed from the ground up to be scalable, flexible and extensible.

SoftSmiths’ adaptable architecture provides benefits including:

  • Robustness and flexibility - essential features providing the ability to adapt easily to new products, requirements, and instruments at an increasing level of transactions.
  • Speed - essential in a real time activity both for competitive advantage over competitors and effective risk measurement.
  • Ease of use - affords speed of action and facilitates effective use of resources.
  • Consistent Approach to Information Sharing - key to effective reporting for overall risk measurement.
  • Legacy System Integration Capabilities - The ability to integrated with legacy systems beneficially impacts the cost and time of implementation.
  • Complete Functional Coverage - Ensuring complete functional coverage allows systems to respond rapidly to change with minimal operational impact.
       
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High Level Architecture

The system uses a “Subscribe and Publish” architecture in a multi-tiered client server environment to allow users to request information and receive updates dynamically as that information is changed. This ensures that the information displayed on the user workstation is always up-to-date, while minimizing redundant requests for information and thereby preserving server, workstation and network resources.

Logically divides work between two components

  • A Client is a program that subscribes to information
  • A Server is a program that publishes Information
  • Two-way communication over the network allows clients to request information and receive updates dynamically as that information is changed
  • Minimizes redundant requests for information, thereby preserving server, client, and network resources

Presentation Layer

  • The presentation layer consists of a multi-threaded Windows client application combined with multi-threaded browser-based applications.

Business Logic Layer

  • The multi-tiered business logic layer consists of multi-threaded Java and C++ components with built-in fail-over and recovery, including services, XML data adapters, and enterprise application servers.

Data Layer

  • The data layer is built on Oracle’s 9i and Oracle 10g relational database management system and operational environment.

Scalability & Maintainability

The system utilizes a multi-tiered, multi-threaded application framework specifically designed to support the deployment of large-scale, high-volume, distributed, commercial applications, with hundreds of users, and hundreds of thousands of transactions. SoftSmiths has proven experience developing scalable applications, most notably with:

  • Electricity Transaction Management System (ETMS)
  • Gas Bidding System (ActiveAuction Gas)
  • Electricity Book-out and settlement system (Tracker)
  • Automated Gas trading Exchange for NYMEX (Channel4)

Interoperability / Extensibility

  • The system provides database interfaces and an XML API to interface with other systems. The system is integrated, and provides cradle-to-grave management of transactions.
  • To interface with custom and/or off-the-shelf applications, customer interfaces can be developed using the e-Link XML API. The system as shipped interacts with all NERC compliant tagging services, FERC compliant OASIS nodes, and EMS systems via EMSLink.
  • The system is compliant with ODBC, JMS and Tibco.

Availability

  • The system is designed for high availability and can be configured with fail over capability to self-recover in the event of hardware or software failure. Recovery can take anywhere from 2 seconds to less than 5 minutes.
  • The system can be configured to do either hot or cold backups. Hot backups can be performed without service interruptions to users. System performance is not noticeably slowed during backups; however, this is a function of the backup software that is selected.

Auditability

The system maintains audit logs of all users actions and automated system processes, including all interactions with business objects. All transactions are logged through recording the user or process who made the change, the time of the change, and all attributes that were changed, for every change to every transaction, schedule, etc.

Security

  • Access Control
  • All access to the application requires the user to provide a login ID and password. Users are granted access to individual secured capabilities based on their functional roles.
  • Security Roles
  • The system uses an action-based security model, to control access to the system’s capabilities and business objects. Roles are defined to correspond to the business functions within the enterprise, appropriate access are assigned to these roles, and then each user is assigned one or more roles according to the jobs he or she performs for the organization. All security restrictions are enforced in the application layer. The presentation layer uses security restrictions to tailor its displays based on the user’s functional roles.
  • Soft Deletes
  • The system does not explicitly include a soft delete feature, but does support marking data items inactive, and cancellation of transactions.
  • Back-Dated Corrections
  • The system allows correction of past data, for example during the after-the-fact checkout and settlement process. This is controlled by action-based security and workflow locking considerations, and recorded in the audit trail.
  • Application and Database Security
  • Database security is configured when the system is initially installed, and does not require further modification, as there is no direct client workstation connection to the database
  • Application security is configured using the e-Manager application.
  • Security Configuration
  • Administrators can use the e-Manager application manage the assignment of security rights.
  • Remote Access
  • Security for remote access can be provided using VPNs and other technologies.

Programming languages

SoftSmiths understands that today’s computing environment is a mixture of different technologies and standards.Applications must integrate co-operatively into this environment. Our products have been developed from the ground up using industry standards for reliability, performance, openness and portability. Standard technologies used in the development of our products are:

  • JAVA, C++, PL/SQL, JavaScript, HTML, DHTML
  • XML, SOAP, SMXP, HTTP, HTTPS
  • Oracle 9i and Oracle 10g, SQL Server, MySQL
  • Windows 2003, Linux, Solaris
       
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