DDS Logistics, TMS market leader in France, has reinforced its lead with the help of its EAI solution. Although its primary function is to enable heterogeneous applications to exchange information, DDS Logistics’s EAI solution is now capable of processing large volumes of data by multi-threading thanks to the advanced technologies of concurrent programming. Interview with Xavier Blondel, PhD in Computer Engineering, now Technical Architect with DDS Logistics.
Can you remind us what EAI actually means ?
“Computers started talking to each other in the 1960s, but integrating applications only became an issue in the 1980s. “Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) in its modern form dates from the end of the 1990s, when the Internet boom was at its height, and also e-business, which couldn’t work without EAI. The purpose of EAI is to make it possible to exchange information between heterogeneous applications in a company’s information system, but also with those of its customers, partners or suppliers. Our EAI solution enables all these different applications to communicate with each other.”
Does transport involve a specific of problems ?
“A specific aspect of the transport sector is that several companies can all be involved in the same operation at the same time. This means that a vast amount of information needs to circulate between the players. DDS Logistics applications address this issue by including a component that supports heterogeneous data formats. It consists of platforms for mediating between the old and new applications, because most companies already have information systems. The challenge is to establish communication while taking account of the different applications in a company’s internal information system, meaning between the past and the present, and also between the company and its various logistics partners.”
How far have you advanced today ?
“Up until a few years ago, processors were doubling in performance every 18 months. Nowadays, this progress has slowed. We therefore need to change our programming paradigms, the way we write our software. This is why we use concurrent programming. We have a considerable advance in the field, as we started developing our EAI solution directly with concurrent programming. This enables us to process very large volumes, even where processing power is limited.”
Is this expertise useful to you anywhere else ?
“Yes, wherever we find ourselves limited by processing power issues or where we need to gain processing speed. For most applications, the power available is sufficient but some applications require very fast processing. There is a threshold where it is necessary to switch to concurrent programming. We have considerable experience with this type of programming.”
What are the strong points of your EAI solution ?
“We stay firmly within our core business. The fact that we are TMS specialists helps us when installing our EAI solution for a customer. Our expertise in the sector is a significant advantage. It places us ahead of the all-purpose commercial products that can do just about anything, but cannot be adapted closely to customer needs – they are too general. Our EAI solution is designed specifically to work with a DDS Logistics application, which is obviously an advantage because we know them so well. In short, we bring sector expertise while at the same time developing our EAI solution around a DDS Logistics application.“Furthermore, since we have made a particular effort on maintenance during production, once our EAI solution is installed the customer doesn’t need us any more; the system works on its own.”
DDS Logistics’s EAI solution handles the transformation of formatswithout intervention from DDS Logistics
“Unlike other EAI solutions, ours is not an off-the-shelf product, but a pre-parameterised module for DDS Logistics applications, simple to deploy and administer (supported by Microsoft systems), ‘calibrated’ to process considerable volumes of data and using only standard technologies: declaration in XML, XSL transformation, SQL database, standard transport protocols (files, FTP, SMTP).
”Our advance lies in our management of software production. When our EAI solution encounters a problem, it doesn’t stop. It always manages to stabilise and to report the incident. It can diagnose its own faults.”