Working together to provide a first class service to the motor industry aftermarket for TecCom

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Auto Mechanic Fixing Car Part

AdvanceFirst Technologies (AFT) worked closely with TecCom to provide complete automated solutions for their auto parts suppliers.

TecCom is the leading B2B platform in the international automotive aftermarket. Use of the TecCom service aims to simplify and automate business processes between part manufacturers and wholesale traders.

Utilising the ATP (Advance Transaction Processor) solution from AFT, TecCom suppliers on numerous platforms, but initially the IBM iSeries (AS400/Power i) will be able to install a high speed, multi threaded connection through from TecCom to their back-end systems and parts catalogues. This will facilitate multiple high speed enquiries, followed by orders being placed with those parts manufacturers directly from automotive customers through the TecCom service.

The above diagram provides an overview of the context in which the service runs.

The core of the service is the Advance Transaction Processor (ATP) software from AdvanceFirst Technologies. This provides the client with the ability to link multi-threaded, high speed and high volume transactions through from TecCom to their back end systems and internal parts catalogues.

The ATP software needs to be integrated with the client’s internal systems but comes pre-configured with TecCom transaction profiles.

All the customers are connected to the TecCom exchange and run either a TecCom free standing product called TecLocal (probably the smaller users) or they will have integrated the TecCom interface directly into their back office systems (larger users).

  • All the customers connect directly to the TecCom exchange – no users of the service ever connect directly to the suppliers.
  • If either there is no response from a supplier, the transaction takes too long or the supplier cannot satisfy the request then the customer is likely just to try another supplier on the TecCom network, so it is important that the provided solution is robust, reliable and capable of handling multiple concurrent transactions.
  • All the transactions AdvanceFirst Technologies (AFT) receive come directly from the TecCom servers into out ATP software which means that AFT will always receive the same XML formats to process.
  • The ATP software supports three transactions types:
    • Availability request
    • Express order
    • Stock order

The above diagram provides an overview of the AdvanceFirst Http Web Processor named ATP (Advance Transaction Processor)

  • All inbound transactions are received from TecCom as HTTP POST transactions.
  • All new connections are handled by the ATP software connection manager which uses a low level Microsoft Http server API – note that our processor does not use Microsoft IIS or needs it to be loaded on the Windows server
  • Once a new connection is detected, the ATP Connection manager creates a new Transaction Manager thread which is then responsible for processing that specific transaction. Once the new thread is created the Connection Manager returns immediately to listen for the next connection. In this way the ATP software is able to service many concurrent connections.
  • The ATP software transaction manager parses the inbound XML data to authenticate the connection and to determine the transaction type; availability, express order or stock order. Once the transaction type is known, the ATP transaction Manager executes the processing steps that have been defined for the transaction. Any number of steps can be defined for a transaction allowing the data to be processed by XSL style sheets or by ADO connections to the iSeries. Data is always passed between steps as a data stream rather than as a file.
  • The ATP HTTP web processor creates a pool of connections between the windows server and the iSeries when the HTTP web processor service is first started - using a connection pool significantly improves the performance. If the iSeries is closed and the connections are broken with the windows server then the Http web processor will automatically reconnect them when required.
  • Optionally, the ATP Http web processor can also be configured to allow the iSeries to process transactions sequentially if needed. The HTTP web processor will buffer the transactions and then use an internal event system to release the pending transactions.
  • When making an ADO connection to the iSeries, the ATP http web processor will call a stored procedure and pass over the required XML to the iSeries for processing. The stored procedure will then call a RPG program which is used to interact with the ERP system on the iSeries in accordance with the agreed requirements.
  • When the transaction processing is complete on the iSeries, the resultant XML is returned to the ATP Http web processor where an XSL style sheet is used to transform the XML into the format required by TecCom and then passed back to TecCom to complete the HTTP transaction.
  • As the ATP software always receive transactions from TecCom, the complete HTTP front end, XML processing and style sheets should always remain the same, allowing us to focus on the customisation of the RPG

ATP (Advance Transaction Processor) HTTP Middleware Web Processor

  • Connection to iSeries requires that both the Windows Server and the iSeries have the IBM Client Access installed which provides the IBMDA400 driver.

  • TecOrder Http initiator POSTs transaction to the AdvanceFirst Http processor.

  • ATP Http Connection Manager detects new connection, accepts data, creates a new Transaction manager thread and passes data over for processing by the Transaction Manager and then returns immediately to listen for new Http connections.

  • Each new transaction uses a connection to the iSeries from a previously created connection pool to significantly improve performance.

  • ATP Transaction Manager reads the received XML data and identifies the Transaction type against those defined for the service and executes each XSL or ADO processing step. There can be any number of steps defined for a transaction to either execute a style sheet transformation or make a connection over ADO to the iSeries to run a SQL command or stored procedure.

  • Optionally, if the defined ADO transaction step is required to execute sequentially rather than in parallel, then the ADO Processor will wait for any outstanding transaction of that type to complete before executing.

  • When all the steps for the transaction have been completed, the resultant XML will be returned to the initiator of the Http transaction.

Implementation

  • TecCom message types:
    - AVAREQ and AVARSP - synchronous availability check and response
    - ORDER and ORDRSP - synchronous order and order response
    - ORDER - asynchronous stock order
  • Message formats:
    - HTTP(S) / SOAP / XML
  • Implementation:
    - AdvanceFirst middleware running on Windows server with integrated Http server executing Stored Procedures on iSeries over an ADO connection.
    - Stored Procedure will need to access ERP/DB2 files on iSeries.
  • Dependencies:
    - IBM Client Access Software which provides the ADO driver IBMDA400 installed on both the Windows server and iSeries.
    - Remote access to an iSeries machine at client site over VPN connection with the appropriate software environment to test the Stored Procedures against ERP/DB2 environment.
    - Remote Access to a Windows server at Client site where ATP Web Processor can be installed.
    - Remote Access to iSeries at Client site where stored procedure/RPG application can be modified and compiled for client specific processing requirements.
    - HTTP(S) access port which can be accessed by TecCom .
    - SSL certificate for Server to support HTTPS connections.
    - Access to client data expertise/knowledge to understand how and from where to extract the necessary data to construct the XML response.

AdvanceFirst are a leader in intelligent EDI solutions with over 350 man years of experience in delivering solutions tailored to the needs of individual supply chain orientated businesses.

For more information email enquiries@advancefirst.com briefly explaining your immediate areas of interest - or call us on 01932 230024. We can then arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our business automation specialists to identify where our automated, intelligent EDI solutions can make a real difference to your business operations.
AdvanceFirst Technologies

AdvanceFirst Technologies

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Since 2003 AdvanceFirst Technologies Ltd has rapidly become one of the most successful specialist EDI companies in the UK. With over 300 clients in more than 20 countries and five distributors around the world we now also have an established global presence.

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