The TRIS applications run on the Progress OpenEdge 10 platform, which allows Intris to leverage its transportation and logistics expertise to meet the ever-changing requirements of its customers. “Intris is a long-time Progress Application Partner,” said Van De Looverbosch. “We began working with Progress databases and tools 14 years ago, and we were one of the first Progress Application Partners in Belgium to upgrade to OpenEdge 10. Now, over 75 percent of our customers have already upgraded to OpenEdge 10 so they can take advantage of its performance and functionality.”
Intris relied on the Progress OpenEdge ABL to tailor the application to meet Ahlers’ requirements. “We did not have to do much customization in the core of the application, but we did adapt the application to support data integration using EDI,” said Van De Looverbosch. The tight coupling of OpenEdge with Progress® Sonic® ESB allows developers to create distributed business systems. Progress Sonic ESB is the world’s first enterprise service bus, and it allows Progress Application Partners like Intris to take advantage of XML, enterprise-grade communication services, and a service-oriented architecture (SOA) based on Web services standards. It provides a cost-effective way to centrally develop, deploy, and manage services distributed across the extended enterprise.
A clear evolution from traditional integration brokers and homegrown integration solutions, the Sonic ESB allowed Intris to benefit from incremental deployment. It allows developers to reuse resources from one integration project to the next, and is flexible enough to start at the project level and scale to virtually any size business.
Ahlers wanted to ensure that business information could be securely shared with customers. “We work closely with stevedore companies, shipping companies, and various subcontractors, so timely and reliable sharing of shipping and cargo information is critical,” said Bogaerts. “EDI improves our productivity and allows us to better represent the interests of our customers. It saves time by avoiding the need to enter information twice. We wanted to provide customers and partners with online access to liner agency information. EDI accelerates decision making and it avoids duplicate entry of data.”
Together, Intris and Progress Software developed the integration and deployed the solution. The TRIS Liner Agency module is now used in production in Antwerp, carrying data on most of the shipping lines that Ahlers represents. The remaining lines are being migrated now, and Ahlers will retire the legacy AS/400 application upon completion.
The implementation and deployment of Progress Sonic ESB has allowed Ahlers to expose the appropriate interfaces to enable information sharing with customers. Ahlers has also leveraged Progress Sonic ESB to enable integration of the TRIS Liner Agency module with legacy enterprise applications. For example, Ahlers runs a single financial application across all its location, and financial data captured in the TRIS Liner Agency module in Antwerp is automatically fed into the financial application without the time-consuming requirement of re-keying the information.
“Here in Antwerp we needed to integrate TRIS with other applications,” explained Bogaerts. “But as an organization, we also need to integrate applications in other ports. Ahlers has already deployed Sonic ESB technology to create an enterprise service bus to integrate applications in our operations in the ports of St. Petersburg and Moscow. “We have different applications running in different locations, and our goal was not to change them all, but to ensure that all applications could be integrated over a common backbone,” said Bogaerts.