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Blaze Advisor Drives Modernizing Legacy Systems at the California Department of Motor Vehicles

Published
  • March 01 2005, 1:00am EST

REVIEWER: Jerrianne Seitz, data processing manager for State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, Vehicle Registration.

BACKGROUND: The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for collecting approximately $4.1 billion annually in vehicle registration fees. Centralized computer systems in Sacramento communicate with field offices throughout the state to handle the task of calculating registration fees for the nation's largest population of vessels and vehicles. Most of the computer programs composing the DMV legacy fee systems have been used for more than three decades with workarounds grafted into the code over the years. Even minor changes required extensive analysis and programming efforts by the legacy system's development staff to make changes to two separate systems.

PLATFORMS: DMV vehicle registration fee systems are deployed across two different systems. The DMV automated fee system is deployed on RS/6000 AIX computers at each of the DMV's 167 field offices and Sacramento headquarters. It processes customer initiated vehicle registration transactions in real time in IBM's proprietary Event Driven Language (EDL). The DMV batch fee systems are deployed on Z/OS mainframe computers at the Teale Data Center, where the renewal notices are generated, and the remittance processing system handles most of the "DMV by mail" processing in COBOL. The DMV's vehicle registration team reengineered a vehicle registration fee system that could work in conjunction with both systems in a manner that would be transparent to the end user. The revised solution resulted in a Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor business rules engine, IBM WebSphere application server, and a J2EE solution operating on a mainframe computer using a Z/OS operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Fee calculation rules get changed often. Centralizing a rules server built with Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor business rules technology successfully provides the nontechnical analysts who are responsible for overseeing legislative compliance the ability to ensure proper implementation of the policy rules across the DMV vehicle registration fee systems.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The intuitive user interface gives nontechnical analysts a powerful tool to control and test rules across critical enterprise information systems without needing to learn obscure programming syntax. This enables increased business agility, allowing rules to be modified quickly and easily.

STRENGTHS: Blaze Advisor's ability to scale massive numbers of transactions on a variety of computer systems was a powerful component in our selection process. Additionally, Blaze Advisor's interoperability with the DMV's existing systems eliminated the rewriting of the vast majority of code within the legacy applications and systems. Throughout the DMV there was an overwhelming feeling that the business policies were so complex that no third-party software package would be able to handle the task, but Blaze Advisor not only met, but surpassed the challenge. Moreover, as a multiplatform solution, we know that our rules-based architecture will meet future integration needs.

WEAKNESSES: The initial configuration had challenges meeting the DMV's performance goals in the second test phase. Blaze Advisor was upgraded to the latest high-performance (compiled sequential) version, and the performance needs were met without any redesign.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The project team identified two products, Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor and ILOG JRules, as the best candidates. The ILOG product lacked the key business user interface features available in the Blaze Advisor rules engine.

DELIVERABLES: Our team's thorough methodology created an effective rule-set of 2,100. With an efficient use of intermediary rules, we reduced the overall rule-set, resulting in a reduction of coding and better visibility into the rules. Blaze Advisor also provided a stronger understanding of the levels of business change and how rule changes affect subsequent business processes.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Fair Isaac offered Java software training and on-site assistance during the pre-project implementation phase. They respond quickly to any problem and are committed to seeing our project succeed.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation can be used to get the product up and running, both on the desktop development machines and the server deployment machines.

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