NZBus upgrades intelligence, rebuilds apps

IT manager refuses comment on how upgrade fits with integrated ticketing changes

New Zealand’s biggest bus fleet operator, NZBus, is upgrading its databases and business intelligence capability to better understand customer needs and boost fleet management.

IT manager Altmaar Visser says the effort, which has seen NZBus, an Infratil company, become New Zealand’s first user of Oracle 11g Release 2, will help deliver cost effective management of the fleet and information on route profitability.

Visser was speaking just ahead of an announcement by Infratil’s Snapper ticketing system subsidiary that it would launch into the Auckland market for the Rugby World Cup, despite losing a tender to provide integrated ticketing for the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA).

See also: Snapper says it will comply with 'agreed' tiocketing standards

Visser refused to comment on how the database and business intelligence upgrades fitted with Infratil’s, or ARTA’s, integrated ticketing plans. However, access to route data for analysis was one of the core requirements of the ARTA tender. ARTA intends to build its own data warehouse to analyse route and transport system performance as part of its integrated ticketing rollout.

Visser says Oracle 11g is a lot more feature rich than version 10, which NZ Bus was using before. Support for extended data types was one attraction, but cost effective management and value for money were predominant considerations.

He says 11g Release 2 supports NZBus’s drive to contain costs and reduced storage needs and is a lot lighter in terms of the hardware it requires, supporting the kinds of tiered environments he has previously introduced as an IT executive of international banks.

He says the features allow NZBus to implement functionality local competitors can’t match.

Visser concedes NZBus’s Oracle 10 implementation was heading out of premium support, so a decision needed to be made whether to carry on with that or move to the “latest and greatest”.

Mark Townsend, Oracle’s vice president for database product management, who was in Auckland for 11g R2’s launch last week, says Oracle 10 would have moved on to what the company calls “standard support”.

Implementation partner Francisco Munoz Alvarez, of Auckland based Oracle partner Database Integrated Solutions (DBIS), says grid control and disaster recovery with Active Dataguard also featured.

Database applications at NZBus have been totally rebuilt as part of the project, Alvarez says, using Oracle Application Express (APEX). These applications included financial, reconciliation, road user licensing and the day book that allocates drivers to routes and buses.

The migration was completed in six months with a team of five developers, Alvarez says.

Townsend says APEX is perfect for small organisations wanting to be agile through rapid application development.

“You can iterate on it very quickly,” Townsend says.

“Therein lies the value,” Visser says. “An SME can do what an enterprise does, only a lot faster.”

He says payback on the development is expected by the end of the year following implementation. A tier one corporate, in contrast, would be looking at a three to five year payback period.

He says DBIS was brought on to formalise a previously ad hoc environment featuring other SQL databases, Excel and Access databases and with no centralised development standard.

“11g was a foundation to stabilise on and to move forward,” Visser says.

The new systems went live in early September after being in beta since February.

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Tags technologyoracle 11gNZTAsnapperartainfratilintegrated ticketingnzbus

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