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ANSES: JBoss Innovation Award Winner
June 17, 2010
Customer: Administración Nacional de la Seguridad Social (ANSES)
Argentina's ANSES needed a way for non-IT users to create, modify, prioritize, and manage the business rules that keep the agency's IT systems current with ever-changing laws, judicial decisions, and court judgments governing the country's social security program
ANSES chose JBoss Enterprise Middleware to build its Business Rules Generation Assistant (or APRN, for the Spanish equivalent acronym) for facilitating rules management between the transactional systems and operational and historical data sources
JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, JBoss Seam Framework, JBoss Rules, JBoss Business Rules Management System (BRMS), JBoss Data Services Platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux,IBM DB2, SQL Server, Microsoft Windows, Sun Solaris 10
IBM System z mainframe; Sun M9000 ; 250 industry-standard x86 servers
By using JBoss Enterprise Middleware for authoring, organizing, prioritizing, and simulating rules between the transactional systems and operational and historical data sources, ANSES was able to empower its business users and institutionalize organizational knowledge to ensure consistent enforcement of laws and rules. With more than 50 applications in production, ANSES is creating initiatives to support its business with open architectures, moving away from closed legacy systems that cost yearly more than two million dollars to operate.
The Administración Nacional de la Seguridad Social (ANSES) is a decentralized government agency of the government of Argentina. Its main function is to manage all social security contributions in Argentina for active and retired workers and their families. This includes national retirement and pension funds, funds of employees of private businesses, funds of self-employed persons, subsidies, family allowances, and unemployment benefits. ANSES has 14,000 employees in 600 offices that are connected via a multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) network. Online applications in its centralized data center perform more than 170 million transactions every month. The batch processes necessary for settling monthly payments alone encompass more than 1.1 billion records. The ANSES IT department has a permanent staff of 490 employees, 180 of whom are programmers. These workers are also assisted by 100-300 contract programmers depending on IT workload.
Over the past 50 years, laws, regulations, and practices for processing and settling social security payments in Argentina have been constantly changing. Although ANSES has put significant effort into translating these changes into systems that ensure a consistent single source of information, too much organizational knowledge resided with individual employees rather than in the systems, resulting in inconsistent enforcement of laws, policies, and processes. In 1996, ANSES tried to embed this knowledge into the applications using business rules based upon propositional logic, but at that point the technology was not mature enough to fully support this goal.
Making this goal even more challenging was that all system rules needed be prioritized based on a multitude of laws, judicial opinions, and legal settlements that had been issued over time. Because laws affecting social security benefits needed to be applied based upon which rule was in force at the time they were passed, the system needed to be capable of understanding and managing which set of rules was applicable to each case. This created a complex relationship of dependencies and hierarchies between laws and rules which was very difficult to manage.
To address these issues, ANSES underwent a modernization program designed to minimize the time its IT department was spending defining and administering business rules. Under this new program, responsibility for defining rules was given to ANSES’ Standards and Processes Management group. ANSES’ IT department was assigned the tasks of defining the system architecture and modeling the data.
However, this raised another critical challenge: How could ANSES make sure that the users creating the business rules—who were not familiar with programming and analysis techniques—were considering all the possible ramifications of a rule on all systems? ANSES sought a solution that would allow business users to record changes in laws without impacting transactional systems, and which would allow them to make necessary legal and regulatory adjustments to the rules without manipulating the source code itself.
A further complicating issue was the sheer volume of information stored in the ANSES databases. There were more than four billion records containing data pertaining to passive and active participants in the social security system; 1.4 billion records containing data on beneficiaries, and 275 million records containing historical transactional data. Whatever solution ANSES implemented had to be able to scale to handle this massive amount of data.
ANSES chose JBoss Enterprise Middleware to build a solution that it called the Business Rules Generation Assistant (or APRN, for the Spanish equivalent acronym).
Specifically, a JBoss Seam Framework-based web application running on JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 4.3 generates rules meta code in the MVEL scripting language of JBoss Rules. Rules in MVEL are then executed for simulation in the JBoss Business Rules Management System (BRMS).
Today, business users define the logical entities involved in the rules through the APRN. These entities are materialized as Java objects and associated with a JBoss Data Services Platform virtual view by the IT staff. The virtual view is associated with the actual data required for the entity—data that may reside in relational databases, web services, virtual storage access method (VSAM) files, or structured text. After the APRN compiles the rules and associates the virtual views, the APRN allows the simulation of the execution of a rule against a real set of the organization’s data in real time.
By doing this, the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform-based APRN allows non-IT business professionals at ANSES to:
The APRN resides in virtual partitions of a Sun M9000 with eight quad-core SPARC VII 64-bit processors with 92 gigabytes of RAM running under Solaris 10. Additionally, the APRN’s SQL Server and DB2 databases are running on an IBM System z mainframe, with more than 250 x86 servers on the network running a variety of different proprietary operating systems, as well as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Microsoft Windows.
Currently, there are 50 new applications being developed which will have their logic externalized in the rules engine.
By using a number of the components of JBoss Enterprise Middleware for authoring, organizing, prioritizing, and simulating rules between the transactional systems and operational and historical data sources, ANSES was able to empower its business users and institutionalize organizational knowledge to ensure consistent enforcement of laws and rules.
JBoss Enterprise Middleware helped ANSES to significantly reduce the cost of acquiring the right technological tools to build its rules-based system, enabling it to allocate more funds for employee training and rollout of the solution. Additionally, the extensive population of skilled personnel in the IT labor market with expertise in JBoss Enterprise Application Platform made development costs lower than if ANSES had chosen a proprietary solution.
In the future, ANSES expects to reduce lawsuits arising from erroneous or inconsistent decisions as well as instances of fraud. Previously, more than 30,000 lawsuits were filed every month against ANSES due to such inconsistencies.
ANSES’ response time to implement changes in response to new laws or legal rulings has also been dramatically improved, improving the quality of life of beneficiaries. Because fewer IT resources are needed to maintain legacy applications, ANSES has been able to assign personnel to more strategic IT tasks. Eventually, ANSES will be phasing out its mainframe legacy applications altogether—saving more than two million dollars annually in maintenance and support alone—in favor of JBoss Enterprise Application Server-based applications running on industry standard hardware.