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In this demo, you are required to build a RESTful Web service which supports a ‘getlocation’ query from the client browser similar to
‘/getlocation?postcode=xxxx’. The server Web Service will return a JSON object with  four attributes (practice name, latitude, longitude, town name and state). The data for this JSON object will be retrieved from the ‘practice_locations.csv’ file you created in
component

1. The Python Bottle framework is required for this implementation. A Python scrip file with the name ‘practice_locator.py’ will contain this RESTful Web Service Demo.

Information Management and Data Integration

Modern business operations require organizations to provide data and information in real time to both internal and external subscribers in order to facilitate efficient business operations. With this in mind, infrastructure and data become a major concern for the said organizations. Enabling this process can prove to be an expensive undertaking and one that is error prone and thus susceptible to failure. With modern dependency on information systems, this can lead to huge losses and even undermining the business position in the market. Furthermore, failure in business systems can lead to loss of lives where such systems are used to support health services.  Apart from these shortcomings, the modern user demands flexibility. The end user demands the ability to be able to access the system regardless of the device being used. As a result, the user expects to be able to access data using a mobile phone, a desktop computer, a tablet, a smart TV or any other device when it is convenient to use that device. Many users rarely carry their computers when travelling and also never use their phone when working. Thus being able to access information using the device at hand.

This ubiquity poses major problems in system integration. All these devices need to connect to the same data source and produce the same results. Additionally, these devices support applications made of different technologies. For example, while using a web browser may be a good way of accessing information on a computer, the same may not be the most appropriate method on a smart TV or mobile device. A custom application may therefore be required. This application should be able to access data using the same protocol as the web browser on a desktop computer. However, this application may not have the same feature of processing HTML and XML documents like a web browser. Thus there is a need to support a data format that is easy to be processed by almost any system. This report is going to look at data and system integration and in the context of Web services.

Information management is the process of acquisition of information from various data sources. This process involves collection, creation, updating and deletion of information. Information from various sources may be in deferent formats. Additionally, data from   Some of the information may be in form of text files, relational database systems, binary formats, XML formats, spreadsheets or comma separated values. While the storage of information may require  data that is homogenous, both in storage and format, this may not always be possible. It therefore becomes imperative for the information to be integrated into the current organization’s storage infrastructure. Therefore, data must be read from the various sources and saved into one or more supported formats. For example, if data may be read from spreadsheets and stored in a relational database.  The data must be converted into a format that can be saved in the relational database system. While some applications may offer features of converting data from one format to another, this is not always the case. For example, Microsoft Excel offers features of converting spreadsheets into comma separated values and XML, but does not have the features for converting spreadsheets to binary data or vice versa. Therefore, to succeed in data integration, a custom application needs to be developed on the fly to facilitate the operation being requested. 

Web Services and Cloud Solutions

To achieve data and system integration the application to be used must be designed in a way that it can be able to handle requests from various applications. Additionally, it must be able to send responses in a format that can be understood by various applications. The requests sent back should not be too complex or requiring heavy processing because some of the devices may not have a lot processing power. Therefore, the application should be able to do all the heavy lifting and return data that is easy to consume. The underlying data storage should be distributed and easily accessible from various devices and from various locations. To enable remote access, the organization can choose to implement cloud solution. Under this model, data, applications and computing infrastructure are offered as a service rather than actual resources (Alzoubaidi, 2016). This can be achieved either through Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) for Computing Infrastructure and application respectively while data is offered through Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) (Bhardwaj, Jain and Jain, 2010). There has been several implementations of Service Oriented Architectures over the years. Some of them include Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), CORBA and web services.

While implementing cloud solutions, an organization may be faced by several options which may cause confusion as to the best option. However, the best option is the one that addresses the organizations needs. Each of these options may be appropriate for different situations while may be inefficient in others. The options available are private cloud, public cloud or hybrid option. A private cloud is implemented by the organization and serves only the owner (Alzoubaidi, 2016). This cloud runs at a data center and is managed and maintained by the organization. A public cloud is offered by third parties and provides services to many organizations across different parts of the world (Venkataramana et al., 2012). Provider of public cloud include companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon. Hybrid cloud is implemented by incorporating both private cloud and public cloud components in the data storage infrastructure.

For this project, hybrid cloud is the best solution. It offers redundancy in case the third party servers cannot be reached either for internal or external reasons. Health data is very sensitive and therefore, proper care needs to be taken to ensure that the service can be accessed at any time, regardless of the circumstances. Implementing a private cloud alone is a  big risk for the organization.

Data merging is the process of combining data from various sources to create one dataset. Different organizations or departments store data in different formats and therefore it becomes important to create a unified view. Additionally, related data may be stored in various files or tables. In order to view this data, it becomes important to query data from each source. There are various methods of data merging such as aggregating, joining or linking. In this project, data was merged from XML file and CSV file by joining using a common field. The field “Suburb” existed in both files and therefore, it was possible to join them by using the field as a key.

Data Merging

Representational State Transfer is a method of making requests using a standardized format. Web services are software components that enable access of resources over the internet. Thus RESTful web services provide a standardized method of making requests over the internet (Pautasso and Wilde, 2010). The web services defines routes that map to the requests that are being requested. These routes act as the Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI). Web service also return data in a standard format that is easy to consume by different applications. This is usually in form of Extensible Markup Language (XML) or Javascript Object Notation (JSON).

In this project, a web service was implemented using python programming language where a standard route was defined as get location. Mapping of this route was enabled by using the Bottle library that enables mapping routes to Python functions. This route received a parameter of postcode and triggered the function doGetLocation. This function read the CSV file practice_locations.csv and converted the data into JSON, which was then returned to the client. The client then sends a request to the google maps and construct a map using the returned information. This occurs asynchronously using AJAX.

Mashups enable users to consume web services and create useful applications to provide services to businesses (Hoyer et al., 2008). The design principles for mashups include architecture and programming style.

In this project, the architecture design principle was applied. A standard  of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) was implemented. This was achieved by creating a web service that allows applications to access resources in a standard fashion. A standard request-response model between a client and a server was applied. A programming style was applied to ensure that the underlying implementation followed the laid standards. In this respect, URL mapping was applied using bottle framework which was implemented by using annotations.   

Conclusion

Service Oriented Architectures are becoming the preferred standard for creating interoperable business applications.  In this category, RESTful Web Services are emerging as the most preferred method of achieving this outcome. This is because they are easy to implement compared to other technologies. Cloud storage are also becoming more widespread as many companies move their data to the cloud. As the pace of doing business also increases, the need to produce applications quickly is also becoming more important. Therefore, mashup are also becoming popular within many organizations’ departments. Software developers are able to create ad-hoc applications that can be able to produce results. These applications can be refined with time to produce more robust applications. Thus Web services, mashups and cloud storage will continue to dominate the industry for the foreseeable future.  

References

Alzoubaidi, A. (2016) Private Cloud Computing Services for an Interactive Multi-Campus University, International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM). doi: 10.3991/ijim.v10i4.5931.

Bhardwaj, S., Jain, L. and Jain, S. (2010) Cloud computing: a study of Infrastructure As A Service (IAAS), International Journal of Engineering and Information Technology.

Hoyer, V. et al. (2008) ‘Enterprise-Mashups: Designing Principles towards the Long Tail of User Needs’, 2, pp. 601–602.

Pautasso, C. and Wilde, E. (2010) RESTful Web Services: Principles, Patterns, Emerging Technologies, Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on World Wide Web, WWW ’10. doi: 10.1145/1772690.1772929.

Venkataramana, K. et al. (2012) ‘Secure data sharing in public cloud’, (April 2012), p. 83342Y–83342Y. doi: 10.1117/12.956463.

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