Charting the EDA journey of ANZ and Airtel

Image courtesy of Jonas Leupe

The challenge has never been greater for multinationals such as ANZ and Airtel. As both are considered essential services, a few seconds of service interruption can mean unspeakable disaster, especially during a pandemic.

This is where event-driven architecture (EDA) comes in, to ensure that enterprises have real-time access to events, such as customer requests, inventory updates, or unauthorised transactions— and can respond to them without delay.

During the recent EDA Summit organised by Solace, ANZ and Airtel were among the companies that shared how the adoption of EDA improved their business operations, amid the ongoing wave of digital transformation.

Shortly before the pandemic, the Australian bank was looking to upgrade its IT infrastructure, shared Eknath Vashishtha, Tech Area Architect for ANZ.

“We have a big home-grown monolith application, which has a core payment capability built in-house. We also built up another new platform that’s on the microservices platform. The intention was to make a future-ready technology. And we had been surrounded by a number of different systems— which offer supporting functions, like fraud; old banking systems, and; largely a legacy application running on the mainframe for distributed systems and likewise. So this is how we had been positioned. We were undergoing a major transformation, migrating from a monolith platform to a microservices platform,” he said.

Vashishtha also shared that local data laws were factored in during their digital refresh.

“(With) the product and services that we are operating and the kind of geography (where) we are operating, we are complying (with) all the regulatory guidelines. As a result, we have an on-prem setup and cloud setup (which are both) global and regional in nature,” he added.

Meanwhile, for the Indian telco, any architectural change must be able to seamlessly integrate with their legacy transformations, and in order to handle huge volumes of network traffic, they have to build a lot of elasticity through auto scaling.

“The events will have their own data structure. And then as we process them, the code for processing those events, or the framework in which the events are going to be handled— are not to be coded again and again. So we have to operate in (a) low-code or no-code scenario, with flexible data models. The key here for meeting all of these architectural impacts is the event-driven architecture,” said Dr. Sudhir Kumar Mittal, Airtel’s Chief Architect.

All eyes on CX

Among the prevalent enterprise innovations fueled by EDA is hyper-personalised customer experience.

According to Sumeet Puri, Chief Technology Solutions Officer of Solace, recent significant developments in CX were twofold: On the client side, there were advancements in browsers and smartphone operating systems, while on the server side, API and event-driven applications have greatly improved.

“Let’s take a step back from where we came from: We oscillated between thin client and thick client systems, depending on where more capability was, whether it was at the server side or the client side. And we’ve seen the evolution from green screens, going into mainframes— so these terminals talk to thick client applications, desktop PowerBuilder, or Visual Basic applications in a client server mechanism,” Puri said.

“From there, the web happened where the internet browsers allowed for a lot of innovation. JavaScript became popular. And if you see any of these front-end applications, they’ve always been event-driven. So the onclick function has always been there in these applications. But the server side was still very ‘You ask me what you want, and I’ll give that to you’,” he remarked. 

With EDA, Solace was able to offer event-driven microservices, function as a service, and publish and subscribe in the backend applications, said Puri.

“The modern mobile app, the modern website, especially the AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) apps— they are getting more and more responsible, they’ll get more and more responsive customer experience with the ability to push and use asynchronicity in the server-side applications,” he added.

The senior IT expert elaborated further: “The modern application will have the synchronous flow of information and then the asynchronous flow completely decoupled. And the asynchronous flow is completely event-driven. You have patterns such as eventual consistency, deferred execution, parallel processing of different workloads, the ability to scale up and scale down. And this will allow the responsiveness of applications to become even better, especially under bursty circumstances, (like) a tender Black Friday sale or mundane interactions.”

Over at Airtel, Dr Mittal shared that the telco generates trillions of events on a daily basis across its technology landscape, which are then processed in real time to better serve their B2B and B2C customers.

“We use Solace extensively, and we have deployed capacities of more than a million messages per second, mainly used for inter-domain messaging. So more functional domains or applications talk to each other over Solace as a message broker. Solace provides a rugged and reliable depth for our large traffic, so we have provided a huge spool capacity. With this kind of large operation, even some glitch somewhere is going to cause a huge spooling of such events, and we have provided adequate capacity using Solace for that,” he noted.

Before ANZ started using Solace’s platform, the company was having difficulties with their backlog of message events which kept on piling up, and as a result, it took them a while to consume such events.

“Scalability is a simple answer if you have to address volume and all these intervals. Now all our microservices are scalable in nature. If we design microservices and deploy microservices scalable in nature to address NFR (non-functional requirement), generally pressure comes back to common services like MoM (message-oriented middleware) and database in terms of resources, utilisation, and overall transaction aspect. We made our platform more scalable, microservices are anyway scalable. However, MoM also has a bit of a fixed capacity in the past that also started scaling, so we had a choice of vertical scaling. Thanks to Solace, they have created a number of transaction support from 10,000 to 30,000,” said Vashishtha.

Future of EDA

Aside from hyper-personalised customer experience, Puri listed 5G and the metaverse as areas to watch out for in terms of EDA growth.

For 5G, he used the Internet of Things as an example.

“When a sensor takes, let’s say temperature is high, or pressure is low, that’s an event that applications can act on. 5G is making the network faster and faster in many ways, so more bandwidth, (lower) latencies. This allows newer applications to be innovated because the underlying physics has gotten better. I hope that MQTT could get bundled inside operating systems, especially Android and iOS – the mobile operating systems – because as open standards become pervasive, why would we not have better topic-based publish-subscribe communication across the vendors of your choice originating directly from the edge, given how pervasive the edge mesh use cases are going to become with 5G?,” Puri explained.

“The monoliths are not going to work, (hence) distributed architecture is going to be the key. Once we distribute this architecture, it has to bring more and more self-serve and autonomy, where each component of the distributed architecture can operate on its own and can be plugged in without much interjection at the other components. So its integration pattern is plug and play. Now the deployment architecture has to be aligned with the hybrid- and multi-cloud-based architecture, not just private cloud or not just one hyperscaler,” Dr Mittal commented.

In terms of the metaverse, Puri described it as “completely event-driven,” and in order for enterprises to fully leverage its potential, it has to be able to seamlessly communicate with the physical universe.

When these devices, whether it’s robots, cars, (or) buses— when they come into the universe, how is this universe going to be talking to the metaverse? For that, you need an event mesh, like pick your favourite technology. But you need to have that real-time feedback loop. It’ll have to be based on topics. It hopefully is based on standards and standards-based topics. But the evolution of the metaverse will be events-driven, the pattern will be event-driven, the vehicle for these interactions between the omniverse or the metaverse to the real world, or the universe would be event-driven,” he concluded.