Earlier this November, Sudaraka Jayashanka – CTO, Mitra Innovation – was invited to participate in a partner’s panel discussion at WSO2Con 2017 – held in London. During the discussion, which was themed – Engaging for Delivery – Jayashanka joined WSO2 premier and certified partners such as Chakray, Yenlo, Emoxa and Profesia. The five member expert panel shared experiences in successfully delivering integration solutions for large clients using WSO2 technologies.
In this post-conference blog post we’ve taken Jayashanka’s key discussion points and we’ve listed the most important learning points from our own Mitra Innovation start-up journey; in our successful quest to become a leading WSO2 technology expert in the IT industry.
1. Align with a key partner to accelerate growth.
We partnered with a key technology provider – In 2015, we started off small, as a WSO2 community partner. We numbered less than 10 people; two of whom were in the United Kingdom and eight of whom were in Sri Lanka. To aid our growth, we developed a strategy that included partnering with a key technology partner. We chose WSO2 because it is an open source versatile middleware with solutions for a variety of technological challenges.
2. Try new things, and keep learning.
We failed forward and we learned – We started out with WSO2 by developing an open source platform called BIMaaS (Building Information Management as a Service). This platform was built to help building constructors with an asset management and information management service to aid project management on construction projects. WSO2 supported us by providing Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) capabilities for the service. We successfully built BIMaaS, however, the project did not take off as intended. There was a huge benefit as a result of our work though: it provided our people with tonnes of exposure to WSO2 capabilities and soon we had mastered the technology enough to become a WSO2 partner.
3. Expert people are expert resources.
At Mitra Innovation we have expert people – Our people consist of certified architects, engineers, developers and analysts who run the large WSO2 based projects that we manage on behalf of our clients. Having started off with less engineers than most people have fingers on their hands, today we are proud to say that we have over 175 people across the globe – expertly trained – in WSO2 technologies. We consistently achieve our goals of recruiting and training high class WSO2 engineers to deliver best in class integration solutions. As a company, we are a preferred WSO2 partner, and a continuously learning team which means we keep trying out new and emerging technologies.
Our newest learning point comes in the form of WSO2’s newest technology; Ballerina – which is built around a visual programming model that allows our customers to connect apps, services and create any program via a sequence diagram.
4. The last mile is a never ending one.
We provide end-to-end services – One of the key attractions of our WSO2 based integration solutions, is that we provide end-to end integration services. We kick off with a rapid ‘quick-start’ programme that soon moves to design, deploy, build and support any given integration solution for our clients. We also provide a dedicated support desk specifically for our WSO2 clients. Mitra Innovation handles Level 01 and Level 02 support functions, and we have also paired with WSO2 to offer the same for Level 03 production support facilities.
5. Train, train, train.
We invest in intense trainings – At Mitra Innovation, we require a lot of WSO2 engineers. And we have come to realise that acquiring a WSO2-trained engineer is no easy task. The developers we hire are usually Java and .NET developers. Our main source of training is WSO2 documentation from WSO2 libraries. We put our WSO2 trainees through our very own WSO2 Boot Camp and we allow them to master WSO2 skills alongside many of our senior and experienced WSO2 experts. The WSO2 bootcamp is usually three weeks long and by the end of the period we have high quality WSO2 engineers ready to contribute to projects alongside the senior engineers.
6. Jump in the deep end; don’t forget your survival kit.
WSO2 newbies are heavily exposed to the technology – At Mitra Innovation we have developed WSO2 labs which are dockerised environments. A typical trainee WSO2 engineer runs the dockerised environment on their pc, sets up the lab for themselves and does the entire training module. At the end of each session, the engineer is required to integrate two different sub-systems. To complete the training session, the engineers are required to undertake several tests by our senior engineers, to validate their WSO2 skill sets.
7. Do what motivates you.
We like being the best at what we do – At Mitra Innovation, the challenge we saw at the beginning is that working with WSO2 code can get slightly repetitious on some days. We noticed this especially with some of the millennial developers we hired, who are energetic, bright, highly qualified, and who want to be challenged by writing brilliant code. WSO2 coding has typically involved a lot of XML coding on a day-to-day basis, which can sometimes become unvaried to brilliant young minds. With the emergence of WSO2 Ballerina however, they feel they are being challenged again with coding. This was extremely apparent in the Ballerina Hackathon held by WSO2 earlier this year. Many of our engineering teams not only entered the WSO2 Hackathon, but, because of their enthusiasm and training, they won the event too!
8. Be prepared when your name is called.
To be ready is to be prepared – At Mitra Innovation today, we are working on several WSO2 projects for clients, the largest of which is a digital transformation and integration project for a UK company, called Travis Perkins.
Travis Perkins is a leading building and constructions materials provider in the UK and they hired us to deliver on a five year long digital transformation projects using WSO2 technologies. This project started in 2016.
The Travis Perkins group of companies comprise of nearly 28,000 employees across 200 branches and 23 sub companies. We currently have four teams (approximately 40 experienced WSO2 engineers) working on this project.
Even though the client is a huge UK business, we embarked on the project with a great deal of WSO2 experience and training behind us – garnered since 2015 – and a year into the project we are successfully delivering. We had prepared ourselves and the client is happy. We hope to share our WSO2 experience with many more clients in the years to come.
We continue our work with WSO2 and are looking forward to putting to use WSO2’s latest product – Ballerina. Our teams consider Ballerina as one of the more sophisticated and easier-to-use integration languages. We also look forward to using Ballerina to take Systems and Cloud Integration to the next frontier with our people, partners and customers.
Thank you for reading our latest Mitra Innovation blog post. We hope you found the lessons that we learned from our own startup story interesting, and you will continue to visit us for more articles in the field of computer sciences. To read more about our work please feel free to visit our blog.