March 2003 eNews Issue
Edition 6 Issue 20

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LAUNCH DATE: April 2003
TECHNOLOGY USED:see below...

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj awarded 5 companies to automate the relation between

the mutamers, external agents, local umra companies, Ministry of Hajj, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bab Al Umra is the biggest ASP provider with more than 35% of the market and 1 million mutamer per year. This year, Bab Al Umra will be expanding heavily gaining a bigger market share and probably they might win the monopoly of the market.

The project is to develop an ASP application that will automate the total Umra process. They have 1000 External agents around the world to enter mutamer data using an offline application and/or from a web interface. All the transactions of a mutamer from the minute he gets the visa number, arrival....will be registered in the system. The project needs a B2C and B2B module to automate the relation between hotels, travel agents, and Bab Al Umra. The system needs to route the mutamers to the external agent in their countries and to route travel agents to local Umra companies in Saudi Arabia.

The application is actually a group of different applications that work together in a coherent fashion to provide a complete a business solution for the customer. Figure one displays the general design of Bab Al-Umra application and the different components that make up the system.

The application can be divided to three logical layers called tiers:
1. Data access layer
2. Business layer
3. Presentation layer

Data Access Layer
The data access layer is composed of an oracle database that works as the storage media. To access data, ADO .NET is used to provide a connection-oriented and disconnected-oriented modes. OLEDB provider for oracle by Microsoft is used to provide fast access to data and improve performance 200% more than any available provider in the market.

Business Layer
The business layer uses three different kinds of technologies:

1. ASP .NET: that listens to user requests using http and xml protocols (wire protocols. HTTP and XML are light, weight protocols for data transfer in a heterogeneous and highly distributed environment.

2. Web Services: This is a good example of using loosely coupled components. The web service uses SOAP 1.0 as a communication protocol (Simple Object Access Protocol). SOAP is the state of the art technology for accessing objects remotely and exchange of messages.

3. ASP pages: Active server pages use HTTP protocol as a communication protocol with the client. Again IIS is the engine that runs those pages and returns the response back to the user.

Presentation Layer
This layer is responsible for rendering the data fed by the presentation layer. XSLT (Extensible Style Sheet Transformation), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) are utilized to return the data to the user in a presentable way. The web interface generates http and requests and is handled by the ASP and ASP .NET handlers. The response returned is a combination of HTTP, CSS, XSLT and XML. As for the desktop application, it allows the client to send and receive data in XML format.

Security Model
Since the Internet is the communication environment, security is a major concern especially when a third party may expose data transferred. Two levels of security checks are performed in the system: authentication and authorization.

Forms authentication is used to validate the legibility of the user when using web browser to access any ASP .NET page. Authenticated users are provided with an authentication ticket (in an encrypted format) and sent with http request. For the web service, the authentication is slightly different, credentials are sent with each request since web services work in stateless fashion.

Data Processing Unit
Data Processing Unit (DPU) is a windows service that act as a gateway between two different database applications. The purpose of DPU is to transfer data back and forth between two databases. DPU uses C# as programming language and takes the advantage of interfaces and delegates to provide a consistent interface for the application.

For more details about BAB AL UMRA - YOUR GATEWAY TO UMRA, PLEASE GO TO : | Keyword: bab al umra


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