MachineMonitorR pumps out new Web site using .NET

MachineMonitorR provides a complete outsourcing solution for the supply and servicing of industrial machines, especially motors such as AC or DC generators, pumps, and submersible pumps, ranging from small to very, very large power ratings and voltages.

MachineMonitorR previously developed an ASP Web site to provide self-service, allowing customers to track machine assets and any associated servicing or risks - covering a wide range of problems such as failures, overhaul requirements, rewind requirements, not operating in stable limits, inefficient use and more. Additionally, the Web site holds an extensive knowledge base for the accrued knowledge, expertise and general tips that company engineers gain on the machines they supply and maintain.

MachineMonitorR turned to .NET after seeing what it had to offer, and because it allowed leveraging their investment in the existing ASP site, allowing for incremental updating rather than necessitating a complete rewrite. "Initially we started on a smaller scale and built individual stand-alone modules that are like add-ons to the current Web site, with the long-term goal being that the whole site will eventually be written in .NET and to take advantage of many new features it offers," says Geoff Skinner, Computer Engineer and principle architect.

.NET has offered two significant advantages to the company. One is the introduction of Web Services. "We are now able to develop a lot of our previous integrated components into stand-alone Web Services that can be sold as individual products to third parties" says Skinner.

The company's rewrite initially focused on the customer self-service portion of the site, and in turning their Resource Database into a commercial Web Service, for which customers can pay an annual fee for access.

Secondly, database connectivity has benefited from the .NET treatment. The company's customers all have some form of middleware, predominantly SAP on Oracle platforms. MachineMonitorR's back-end system is an SQL Server and a locally-built accounting system called Business Craft. Prior to .NET, code had to be written to facilitate communication between each pair of products, requiring new code should a new system be introduced. Since introducing .NET, all communications between these diverse systems works via XML. "This has been a breeze," says Skinner.

The company uses Microsoft's Visual Studio.NET, Visio and Project for all development. The current project has taken about two to three months of development time, with one person dedicated full-time and up to three additional developers working on the project at any time.

Geoff Skinner expects the rewrite of the Resource Database to be complete within a month, and the actual rewrite of the whole site in up to nine to 12 months, depending on the new features they decide to add and the number of modules they may convert to Web Services. Skinner looks forward to the positive results the project will bring, offering a more maintainable and extensible Web site, and giving customers the best possible service and experience.

He notes, however, "The refinement and improvement of the overall Web site will never really be finished as we like to continually utilise the latest technology and continually improve the services we offer our customers."

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David Williams

Computerworld
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