December 06, 2002

The Big Network in the Sky

I was helping out on Wednesday at a seminar Cape Clear held with BSkyB in London looking at some of the practical experiences using Web Services technology as part of the Sky TV network since mid 2001.

One of the most interesting points made by the speaker from Sky was that they had never had any problems from the Web Services parts of the architecture (probably because they are using such a good web services platform! ;-), although they had many other general problems with the rest of the network, hardware and systems just like any other IT project.

The initial project involved on-line ordering of subscription packages on the web. A more recent project had involved allowing a subscriber to access their individual billing and payment information from the set-up box, and used web services for integrating with the mainframe billing system to provide on-screen bills, with plans I suspect in the long term to go completely electronic and not send out paper bills at all.

The size of the Sky network is in many ways fairly huge in typical distributed systems terms - about 6.5 million individual users, usually all simultaneously connected, although the concurrency ratio for usage of the billing information services is fairly low at the moment Delivering electronic services to this client base really is a 24/7 operation with very high visiblity of problems (ie blank TV screens)

Needless to say, a lot of consideration goes in to reliability and fault tolerence in the systems architecture, and the resulting deployment configuration is pretty much identical to the ultimate Web Services cluster I referred to in an earlier presentation.

I think this all goes to proves that Web Services technology is already suitable for primetime (sorry about that dreadful pun, but I had to get it in somewhere in a posting involving TV!) and indeed Web Services are already delivering cost savings and business benefits to many of the early adoptors of the technology.

Entry categories: Architecture Web Services
Posted by Jorgen Thelin at December 6, 2002 10:00 AM - [PermaLink]
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