What were the underlying reasons or business implications for the need to innovate and transform the business?
The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is the largest ever telecommunications project undertaken by the Irish State. It aims to radically transform the country’s broadband landscape through the delivery of quality, affordable high-speed broadband to all parts of Ireland where such services are not available commercially.
The NBP will ensure that all people and businesses have access to high-speed broadband, no matter where they live or work. Once completed, all parts of Ireland will have access to a modern and reliable broadband network, capable of supporting the communications, information, education and entertainment requirements of current and future generations.
The network will be designed, built and operated by National Broadband Ireland, using a combination of State subsidy and commercial investment. It will make its services available to all of the rollout area, which accounts for 23% of the population in about approximately 537,000 homes, farms, schools and businesses.
In order to achieve this vast undertaking NBI designed a large IT landscape to provide all of the systems necessary to creating, selling, monitoring and maintaining broadband networks. All of these systems needed to integrate with each other to support hundreds of different business processes.
Paramount among NBI’s concerns for optimizing its processes were:
• ensure that each system could interact automatically in real-time to complete key broadband order business processes.
• provide API interfaces that broadband service providers can integrate into providing efficient real-time customer responses to new broadband orders
• store notifications for all interactions, to maintain a history of progress for each one
• track the engineer progress as they drive to a customers home, start the broadband installation, test and complete the job
By utilising the SnapLogic Platform, NBI were able to build a ground-breaking fully integrated broadband sales and management solution to address specific issues and challenges, including:
• providing greater automation in the sales and back office processes
• ability to provide modern integration with real-time API services
• deliver rollout to strict timelines driven my government
As well as the technical challenges to delivering this programme, the Irish government mandated fixed milestones that defined precise capabilities delivered by given dates. Failure to deliver on these commitments could lead to NBI not receiving or forfeiting payment depending on the contractual milestones. The ability to deliver quickly and on time was therefore critical to the programme.
National Broadband Ireland (NBI)
SnapLogic provided the critical component of the NBI architecture connecting 30 disparate systems, and creating a seamless end to end business process. As an AWS user NBI required a full integrated experience between their existing AWS services and SnapLogic. This was achieved through designing and creating a Groundplex at the heart of the AWS landscape and connecting it to the various AWS services such as API Gateway, Cognito, X-Ray and CloudWatch. This enabled fast onboarding of new APIs that connected with SnapLogic.
SnapLogic Ultra powered the pipelines to ensure that NBI achieved lower latency response times on all API calls, with the workload balanced across 3 x FeedMaster and 3 x JCC nodes which provided a high performing, resilient architecture.
Although APIs were important to NBI the second aspect to the strategy was to automate processes for back office users who work with Jira Service Desk. All back office business processes were automated using Service Desk whereby as tickets progressed through various states, a call-back was used to trigger SnapLogic to update and manage the business process for that state. As the tickets moved through their lifecycle SnapLogic managed the necessary updates to the operational systems. This meant there was no requirement for users to update each system manually, SnapLogic would take care of this as part of the ticket predefined business process.
As well as API and business automation, the third major requirement was to enable the engineering workforce. This engineer team were responsible for visiting customer homes and installing the broadband connection. This required scheduling, tracking and completing the switch on when the engineer completed the installation. To support this, an iPad application was created to send progress updates to SnapLogic pipelines that then processed the update and completed the business process related to it. Notification events were sent in real-time that tracked steps such as the engineer was on the way, or installation had begun through to job was now complete(or not). This data was streamed in real-time so the organising service providers could see progress in real-time.
The project led to the creation of approx. 71 reusable APIs, 255 pipeline across 21 process areas as project spaces. The delivery phases consisted of:
To meet the strict contractual milestones set by the Irish government, multiple releases were developed and released for testing in parallel. Following an iterative development process across multiple GitHub release tracks, we were able to manage builds at different versions and across multiple test and production environments.
In the last major release, we had 18 complex requirements (epics) that included 16 new or updated API specification and 48 updated or new complex SnapLogic integrations. To achieve this across a 12-week period our team developed, tested, deployed, and supported changes across each integrated environment. In parallel we started the next phases of delivery consisting of three complex requirements (epics) that included 12 updated or new integrations supported by two new API specification. All while ensuring, we stayed within timebound targets aligned to government milestones.
As well as maintaining this velocity of delivery we also incorporated priority led production incidents that were then merged with release tracks on a weekly basis and small-scale change requests which ensured service provided to the customers remained consistent.
Architecture Phase consisted of:
• Designing the Groundplex architecture and integration with AWS services
• Designing the high level architecture across the enterprise whilst the rest of the enterprise was being defined (greenfield)
• Determining the data flows across the integrations
• Designing the back office SnapLogic Jira automation components
Design & Delivery Phase consisted of:
• Building the pipelines to support the in scope APIs
• Building the Jira automation
• Building the installation engineer tracking integration
• Testing and bug resolution
• Deployment using GitHub CICD pipelines
• SnapLogic’s solution used most of the core snaps because the endpoints were either SOAP-based or REST-based bespoke service calls. Additionally, SnapLogic used AWS snaps for calls to AWS services and internal DBs.
With a team of 4 SnapLogic developers Pace Integration established a monthly service based on an agile storypoint velocity. This model suited NBI given product definitions and priorities frequently changed as part of their own agile / iterative development sprints.
Pace provide a senior SnapLogic architect and solution design, from the initial technical architecture definition to understanding NBI business processes to be automated through SnapLogic. As the digital glue for the NBI OE environment this role was critical to bringing together the technical and business process understanding. Ensuring SnapLogic design and build best practices were followed.
Delivery Management was provided for all SnapLogic components given the complexity of multiple parties, parallel releases and evolving Customer processes.
As a result of implementing SnapLogic at the heart of their architecture, NBI has accelerated the delivery of the project and has met strict government delivery timeline targets. The benefits for the business include;
• Enabling homes to be connected to a fast broadband connection for the first time, proving invaluable for families particularly during COVID lockdowns
• Offering a fast easy way for service providers to onboard and start ordering broadband for customers
• Removing barriers for smaller service providers to join the Irish broadband market by allowing access to a rich collection of APIs
• Automated the back office processes, so staff are not required to manually update data across many systems, SnapLogic takes care of all updates automatically for each step of the business process
• Repeatable, consistent deployments using CI/CD release pipelines - over 35 maintenance releases last year, meaning any fixes or new features can be released quickly and easily
• SnapLogic low code environment means new features and business capabilities are added quickly and easily
Met all contractual Government milestones.
As a greenfield implementation went from no business, no processes and no systems to a functioning business with customers in under 14 months.
Speed of implementation on SnapLogic (100+ integrations built in 3 months) allowed for short time to value to meet short project timeframes.
As of November 2022 - 360k premises surveyed, 343k designs complete, 234k premises under construction or constructed, 22k premises connected and 778 BCPs / schools installed by NBI
The scale and speed of the implementation showcases the benefits of SnapLogic, as well as the high-availability and low-latency NFRs demonstrating it’s enterprise automation capabilities.