Building technology and software based on widely accepted industry standards makes it easier and more affordable for companies to access and use certain solutions. Industry standards can improve the long-term viability, interoperability, resilience, and sustainability of business critical software and technology. Just like other organizations needing software based on industry standards to run their businesses, utility network operators also need software solutions that conform to the technological and operational norms within the industry.
Throughout this blog series, I’ve been looking at the seven reasons utility providers trust Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure with their network models. For my last installment, I will discuss the some of the industry standards we’ve built into our utility network modeling and management solutions, as well as how these directly benefit utility providers. Enjoy.
Centralizing User Rights and Application Access with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol
A common use of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is to provide a central place to store usernames and passwords, making user and password administration easier and more secure. It allows many different applications and services to connect to the LDAP server to validate users. For many of the same uses and benefits, our network modeling and management solutions leverage LDAP standards to provide a single, unified approach for controlling application access and behavior based on a single repository for user rights. With LDAP standards built in our solutions, end users have a single-sign-on experience to access enable applications. Another benefit to using LDAP for user rights and application management is that utility network operators – and our customers – are able centrally manage security across all applications, which reduces administrative costs while providing a greater level of security. LDAP standards also simplify the everyday use of our applications.
Simplifying Software Component Communication with Service-oriented Architecture
Service-oriented architecture (SOA) makes it easier for software components to communicate and cooperate over the network. The creation of a robust service layer has the benefit of a better return on investment made in the creation of the software. By putting the logic in a separate layer, the layer can exist well beyond the lifetime of any system it is composed into. The following benefits can be seen with a service-oriented architecture:
- More Security
The creation of a service layer by definition means that developers have created an additional network interface that can be used by multiple applications. An application will therefore have multi-level authentication at both the client level and at the service level.
- Client Independence
As a benefit of a service-oriented architecture, companies may use multiple clients and multiple client types to access a service. Since the layers are split into client and service layers, different client types are easier to implement.
- More Reuse
Component or service reuse is much easier to achieve than code reuse. Run-time service reuse is as easy as finding a service in the directory, and binding to it.
More and more of our code is moving to services providing a good SOA foundation.
Leveraging .NET Programming Extensions for a Stronger Platform
Our network management solutions have been developed on Microsoft’s widely used .NET framework. Overtime we have been able to create numerous .NET extension points based on utility specific business rules, behavior control for placement and reports, and commands. We develop new capabilities and enhancements for network management solutions based on Microsoft’s recommended and most current programming languages within the .NET framework. This help us provide the strongest and most resilient platform to develop our utility solutions on. We also leverage Microsoft’s Visual Studio to provide a superior and integrated development environment.
Standardizing Geospatial Data Management with Oracle Locator
A fundamental design in our utility network modeling and management solutions is the use of a fully relational storage model to storage and manage all geospatial information. This allows for geospatial information to be managed with the same set of relational database tools used for all enterprise information. There are several benefits to this approach. First, geospatial and non-geospatial information and applications can be integrated into the database, resulting in reduced integration costs. Second, the same data management tools apply to functions such as security, scalability, backup and high availability. Database vendors invest heavily in these tools. Last but not least, leveraging these capabilities for geospatial information can substantially reduce long-term data management costs. We’re able to do all of these things by using Oracle Locator, which provides standard SQL access to geospatial information and functions, grants access to all database functionality, and enables geospatial interoperability with other enterprise applications.
If you would like to know more about the industry standards of our utility network management solutions, contact me. Thank you for reading this blog post series. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series if you haven’t already.
Mike Baker is an executive consultant for Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure's utilities and communications solutions. With more than 25 years of GIS experience, Mike has provided consulting services to many customers in various industries, with emphasis on utilities during his 20-plus years at Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure.