By Geertjan on Nov 06, 2013
If you live in South Africa, you know about Vodacom. Vodacom is one of the dominant mobile communication companies in South Africa, and beyond, providing voice, messaging, data, and similar mobile services. Inside Vodacom there's an application named Helios, which is a call centre application that had its inception in 2009 and consists of two parts.
Firstly, a web-based front-end that allows a call centre agent to service subscribers using a Google-like search on a knowledge base structured as a collection of FAQs. The web-based front-end uses plain-old HTML + CSS + a good helping of JQuery and JQueryUI. This is delivered via JSR-168 portlets running on a cluster of IBM Portal 6 servers. In turn, the portlets communicate via RMI with several back-end EJB's containing the business logic. These EJB's are deployed on a cluster of Weblogic Application Servers, version 10.3.6.
The second part is a NetBeans Platform application used for maintaining and constructing the knowledge base, i.e., the back-end of the web-based front-end. Helios is also used for a number of other maintenance functions, such as access permissions, user maintenance, and news bulletins.
Below, in the web-based front-end, call centre agents can enter search terms and are presented with a number of FAQs from the knowledge base. Upon selecting a FAQ article, the agent is presented with the article text, the process to guide the subscriber, system checks that display information specific to the subscriber, and links to related applications and articles:
Below, you can see that applications are searchable and can be accessed using the same web-based front-end as shown above.
And, as can be seen below, knowledge base FAQs are maintained using the Helios Maintenance Application, which is the Vodacom application built on the NetBeans Platform:
Several thousand call centre agent user accounts are administered using the Helios Maintenance Application. Below the main FAQ page is shown, together with the About dialog:
Vodacom is happy with the back-end NetBeans Platform application. However, the front-end stack runs on quite old technology. Ideally Vodacom would like to migrate the portlets to Oracle Weblogic Portal or Oracle WebCenter, but this hasn't been accomplished yet. Migrating makes sense as the rest of the application server environment consists entirely of Oracle products.