Martone Computer Consulting

BEST Platform Notes


A series of notes providing an overview of the Business Engine Server Tool (BEST) server platform.

1. Key Components

The Business Engine Server Tool (BEST) platform is composed of multiple components which combine to bring efficient, controlled, timely and flexible access to the wealth of financial information in GMIC to the key information users (Financial Control, Private Bankers, Country Managers).

2. The Client

The client piece for BEST is a graphical web browser supporting the following features:

Browsers from Netscape and Microsoft from version 4 upwards meet these requirements.

3. The Web Server

The web server component is a performance enhanced Common Gateway Interface(CGI) application. CGI is the most widely implemented web application programming interface and is available on every serious web server platform. The knock on CGI is that it can be slow and unsuitable to scaling to handle large workloads. However, there are many techniques available to alleviate the performance penalty associated with CGI.

The BEST uses the Apache web server which is the most widely deployed web server on the Internet and forms the basis of the web server strategy of companies such as IBM. The web component is implemented in the programming language Perl. Perl is one of the most commonly used languages for creating dynamic CGI based web applications. The BEST configuration uses the Perl embedded interpreter, mod_perl, which provides a significant (10 fold) increase in performance in typical applications. This combined with some strategic application level caching techniques provides a platform which is both fast and scalable.

More information on Apache and mod_perl can be found at http://www.apache.org and http://perl.apache.org.

4. The BEST middleware server

Using Sybase's Open Server architecture and libraries, this key component was developed to provide the business focused value add to the multidimensional GMIC database. This component uses sophisticated techniques to provide these key business benefits:

More information on Sybase and Open Server can be found at http://www.sybase.com.

5. The GMIC relational database

The GMIC database contains about a decade of detailed client account level financial data. Although stored in a relational database, it is structured to support multidimensional financial queries in an efficient manner, while simultaneously exhibiting charateristics of an on line transaction system. For instance, a financial control staff member can submit a batch of updates to the numbers and it will be applied incrementally to the base level data and all stored aggregates typically within seconds. At this point, the result of those changes is immediately available to all financial reports at any level of detail.

The GMIC database also contains the necessary metadata which implements the chart of accounts, various hierarchies (Product, Investment Center, Country, Private Banker, etc) and the Period, Type and Metric definitions.

The GMIC database implements a business oriented entitlement scheme which allows discretionary access control to be applied to sensitive client information based upon the organizational structure expressed in the Private Banker hierarchy.