Geertjan's Blog

  • November 6, 2013

Vodacom Call Center Management on the NetBeans Platform

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager

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

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.

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