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The Art of Integration

New York's Museum of Modern Art took a composite apps approach for fast low-cost development.

Q&A

Why was MoMA's IT update necessary?

Rocco: The user perception of our iSeries systems was that the green screen was old, tired technology, and we needed to deliver applications faster.

Peltzman: We also had to break down the silos among our systems. For example, our membership application on the iSeries contains data the merchandise point-of-sale system needs to issue discounts. Members were also receiving wasteful duplicate mailings because one business function didn't know what the other was doing with its data. Our need was to find the right level of integration so the Museum could improve service.

How did you break down the silos?

Rocco: We started using Lansa application development and integration products—they work on the iSeries and let us custom develop composite applications that would draw from various applications and data sources, including PeopleSoft ERP, our retail app and Ticketmaster.

We now use two of Lansa's development products, as well as Lansa Integrator. Visual Lansa lets us develop Web-based applications and move away from the iSeries' native RPG language programming, which kept us from assembling programs and deploying new business rules quickly. We've cut our development cycle time by about 40% and hope to shave that by another 10 to 15%. With the separation of presentation and business layers, we can develop and deploy apps on either the Web or in a Windows environment—in other words, we can reuse the code and build components for either environment. But at the same time, we've been able to stick with our strategy of leveraging our—and our users'—knowledge and comfort with the iSeries platform.

What are the business benefits?

Peltzman: In the museum, you can instantly upgrade memberships or change addresses. And this summer you'll be able to do that on the Web as well. Membership personnel also can print permanent cards on the spot so visitors can immediately use them to gain entrance to the museum or get store discounts.

Rocco: We launched a POS app as part of the new building initiative. It supports our five selling locations and runs all 30-plus registers. It's integrated with all the databases, which are all on the iSeries. That info is available instantaneously to anyone in retail: We can very easily give them hour-by-hour traffic information for any store.

How long does development now take?

Rocco:That POS application took us the better part of a year to do. But while the developer was putting that application together, we also had to deal with support and day-to-day issues. If we had to develop that application in a traditional iSeries environment, I could see it going at least 15 to 18 months. With the experience in composite applications that our developer has picked up, he could probably put together that same system today in 75% of the time that it took him to do this one.

We also see more code reuse going forward. For instance, we have a credit-card authorization process that was developed in POS we now also use in our membership system. We can now port that to any other application we develop that needs to authorize credit cards. The nice part about that is it's all tested, we know it works well with the credit card processors—so we save ourselves a lot of time with testing our new applications.

OUTTAKES

What else is new at MoMA? Since November 2004, the second floor has flexible gallery space a city block wide that can accommodate huge art brought in through a removable wall.
How much bigger is MoMA now?Total gallery space is now 125,000 sq. ft. It used to be 85,000.
Who was the architect? Yoshio Taniguchi, of Japan.