In 2011 Poland’s largest aggregator of multimedia content, e-Muzyka, implemented a new integration solution based on BizTalk Server in cooperation with Euvic. It made possible more than tenfold expansion of the whole system (including the size of the database, the number of products and multimedia files and storage volume) in the last five years without any noticeable increase in system maintenance costs. At the same time in the course of the still ongoing cooperation e-Muzyka has been paying for the maintenance and development of the new platform significantly less than if it used its own IT department for that purpose.
e-Muzyka SA is the market leader in the delivery of multimedia content. The company offers comprehensive B2B solutions for partners operating on the multimedia distribution market. The scope of the company’s services includes most of the steps involved in product launch – from the production of multimedia content to distributing it directly to individual customers. The company actively cooperates with the major music labels in the world that make up the so-called “big three”. This justifies defining e-Muzyka as a multimedia content aggregator. This role is unique in Poland and even in Europe.
In recent years e-Muzyka has been growing dynamically by integrating numerous partners, both producers/suppliers of multimedia content as well as its users. Each integration process includes the exchange of large amounts of metadata, multimedia and extensive reporting. It also requires high performance, reliability and security. Over the years, e-Muzyka has implemented a variety of applications to streamline the import and export processes as well as report generation. Those tools were created in different technologies by different teams and have not been standardized which led to the formation of complex heterogeneous environment that consisted of components dedicated to specific partners and specific processes.
“In 2010 we decided to implement a new solution that would allow us to better control the supported processes and reduce the costs of maintaining and developing our IT platform. Since previously we used Microsoft’s solutions, we asked that company to recommend a good contractor that would help us carry out our plan to implement BizTalk. Microsoft pointed to Euvic as a company with the right expertise,” said Jan Ejsmont, Vice-President at e-Muzyka SA.
Following several meetings between the representatives of Euvic and e-Muzyka during which a new integration solution was thoroughly analysed, both companies agreed on terms cooperation and started the project.
The main goal was to unify the company’s IT environment through implementing an integration platform and mapping onto it all processes that take place in e-Muzyka. One of the main objectives was also to prepare a new data module which enabled support for diversified products distributed in the multimedia market. All of this was to allow e-Muzyka to reduce its platform development and maintenance costs.
The project started after a thorough analysis conducted in the first half of 2010. The new system, code-named S3, was built based on the following assumptions:
- homogeneous environment,
- division into modules,
- SOA-services oriented,
- use of the canonical data model,
- extensive handling of errors, validation and notification,
- simple maintenance and easy development of the system.
The S3 system includes such components as an integration bus that supports processes of multimedia content import, export, conversion and distribution, a powerful multimedia repository (several hundred of TB), an extensive database and web servers that serve the multimedia files.
“The conversions controlled by the platform make use of web services configured on a server farm. At the same time the platform ensures asynchronous operation as well as advanced task queuing and prioritizing and offers the option of resuming long-term processes that have been stopped (e.g. due to a fatal error),” said Grzegorz Mazur, Technical Director at Euvic, coordinating the cooperation on Euvic’s side.
The system supplied by Euvic offers a convenient GUI that allows the review/edition of metadata and management of import, export and conversion processes. It also provides detailed error logging and multi-level validation, enabling the operator to verify the correctness of processes. In addition, e-mail notifications at various stages of the process provide the operator with information on the current status of the outsourced tasks.
“The new system replaced our previous solution in 2011. At the same time we signed another contract with Euvic for the maintenance and development of the system. Our requirements are implemented on a regular basis by Euvic, which includes adding components to existing processes on the integration platform or designing new processes and their associated metadata schemas. This gives us full flexibility and control of the whole implementation process,” said Jan Ejsmont.
Team and methodology
Initially Euvic assigned 12 staff to the e-Muzyka project: eight developers, two testers, an administrator and a project manager. At present – depending on the demand – there are five to seven staff involved. The team consists of: two programmers responsible for maintaining the system, one or two programmers responsible for the development, a tester, an administrator and a project manager.
The project has been implemented based on the agile framework, initially also using elements of PRINCE2 at a high level. Most of the work (about 90 percent) has been done remotely, but at the key stages of the project (e.g. when response/repairs in a very short time were needed) project team members also worked at the headquarters of e-Muzyka and at the site where it colocates its resources.
- BizTalk Server 2010
- .NET Framework 4
- SQL Server 2008 R2
- Windows Server 2008 / 2012
- Microsoft Hyper-V
- Microsoft Clustering Services
Smoother operation of the platform and its easier handling
As a result of the project, e-Muzyka created an advanced platform which includes a number of technical improvements compared to its previous version, such as:
- Simpler and module-based architecture,
- Standardization of communication interfaces (homogeneous environment),
- Reduced linkages between systems,
- Orientation towards SOA services,
- Separation of input and output buffers,
- Fully asynchronous import, export and conversion operations – queued from the GUI,
- The possibility to resume stopped process (e.g. in the event of a critical error),
- E-mail notifications of completed operations,
- A detailed, uniform error log,
- Stored procedures for common data-intensive operations, providing enhanced system performance,
- Use of security-enhancing mechanisms.
All this resulted in a more efficient operation of the platform and its easier handling, allowing easy integration and collaboration with new partners.
A very high technical level of the created platform was confirmed by two audits: technical, carried out by EY, and a software licenses audit conducted by Microsoft.
More than ten-fold expansion of the platform without rising maintenance costs
Another crucial advantage of the new implementation was the reduction in the platform maintenance costs. They remained at the same level as before although the platform grew compared to the previous version (S2):
- more than 10 times in terms of the number of products,
- more than 20 times as regards media storage,
- approx. 20 times in terms of the product offering,
- approx. 30 times as far as the size of the main database is concerned.
This was possible thanks to the use of new database architecture and its ongoing optimization (indexes, statistics). In addition, the way in which the new platform (modularity, scalability) has been designed enables its easy expansion by way of adding components to the existing processes integration platform or designing a new orchestration.
Significantly lower costs of system creation, development and maintenance
By sourcing the creation and maintenance of the new system to Euvic, e-Muzyka incurred significantly lower costs than if it wanted to achieve those goals on its own. The savings resulted from:
- competitive rates for specialists with the relevant experience (BizTalk, SQL Server, Web Services, .NET, arrays, servers and systems administration),
- e-Muzyka not having to look for them on the market and to incur the costs of employing them (they were seconded to the project by Euvic from among its existing staff),
- the availability of additional resources for the period of intensified development (e.g. BizTalk configuration and optimization experts),
- effective planning of hardware / licenses expansion as well as professional assistance in Microsoft licensing,
- flexible rules of cooperation (the size of the team working for e-Muzyka is optimized as needed).
Ability to focus on attracting new partners and customers, not on technical issues
By creating a new platform and entrusting its maintenance and development to Euvic e-Muzyka has also gained the ability to focus on acquiring new customers and partners, that is on developing its business, and not on technical issues. All this enabled the company to strengthen its leadership in the delivery of multimedia content in Poland and to expand on global markets.
“Flexibility, professional advice, high quality and efficiency of the delivered solutions – these are from my point of view the greatest benefits we achieved by cooperating with Euvic. It is also very important for us that we are basically relieved of IT development and maintenance matters and we can focus on strictly business issues. And all this is very cost-effective for us” – Jan Ejsmont, Vice-President of e-Muzyka.