Airbus DS Geo GmbH (initial name was Infoterra GmbH) was founded in 2001 to
prepare and commercially exploit the TerraSAR-X radar earth observation satellite.
Its objective is to sell radar images taken by the satellite and handle commercial
ordering. This business requires fast responses to customers and timely and
reliable fulfilment of orders is crucial for Airbus DSto keep customer
satisfaction high and properly utilize the unique points of the satellite mission
(all weather imaging and NRT delivery of image products). In addition, order management
processes had to comply with strict security control due to German legislation on
high resolution images (SatDSiG). Orders for many different imaging products and
services - each with several variations and options - have to be processed in
tight integration with the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center
(DLR) and Receiving Stations located around the globe.
Airbus DS's business processes are characterised by a high quantity of transactions
(more than 50.000 new catalogued objects per month) and complex custom workflows.
To summarise, Airbus DS needs an ERP that is flexible enough to handle complex
custom workflows and security rules and that provides reliable integration with
various third party systems.
With order processes relying heavily on workflows, Airbus DS initially preferred
an Oracle-based solution. The complexity of implementing a highly customized solution,
however, proved to be a major issue, which eventually led to Airbus DS deciding
on Nexedi and ERP5 for realising the project.
TSXX project leader at Airbus DS Geo Gmbh:
"ERP5 did not only bring the flexibility of Oracle, but being open source, it
also made Airbus DS more independent: The satellite imaging business evolves too
quickly to wait for the software industry. Instead, with the ERP5 solution.
Airbus DS was able to drive the software, rather than being driven by a release
policy from a single vendor."
All ERP5 business processes are implemented based on transactional workflows.
Workflows visualise how objects move from one state to another during their
life cycle in what could be seen the digital representation of an physical
business process. Workflows also are extendable and can be fit to specific
client requirements, making them an ideal tool for building custom applications
such as the TSXX ERP5 implementation.
For TSXX, it is necessary to distinguish between cataloged and future images.
The latter also requires to create ways of monitoring incoming orders for
potential conflicts and data availability, which was realised using a custom
front-end module directly displaying information from MySQL/MariaDB indices.
Before any future order is placed, it must be validated against security rules.
Once validated, a technical quotation including screenshots is created in ERP5
before the actual sales order is planned. Once all required customer data is
available and verified, the ERP5 sales and DLR packing lists are created and
transitioned to the workflow state "Done" after all required images have been made.
Finally, interfaces are used to order the tasking and processing of images before
instructing the client on download coordinates and ways to access.
The implementation uses ERP5 applicative security model. With its dynamic and
multidimensional rule based approach, it is capable of implementing access rules
and policies which are at the same time very strict and permissive depending on
rules allocated to a user or third party.
"For Airbus DS, ERP5 is the right solution for TerraSAR-X order
management, because its web– and workflow-based approach provides the level of
flexibility and security required for a global project such as TSXX. With ERP5,
distribution partners around the world can access the central ERP5 infrastructure
and place orders securely."
Aerospace and Defence industries often rely on a variety of heterogeneous systems
which must be interfaced to a central application. ERP5 incorporates a Service
Orientated Architecture (SOA), leveraging simple protocols such as HTTP, XML-RPC,
REST, and SOAP to connect different systems. Most IETF standards (ex. SMTP, LDAP,
IMAP, etc.) are supported, legacy standards (ex. CORBA or Z39.50) can be added
directly through libraries or preferably through SOAP bridges thereby also easing
the transition from corporate information systems to W3C standards.
Jean-Paul Smets, CEO of Nexedi:
"The TerraSAR-X project is the first implementation of ERP5 advanced security
model in Europe. Together with the ERP Fast design methodology, ERP5 can model
complex organisations with multiple sites, multiple partners and granular access
rights to a shared central database. This project has also shown the possibility
to interface ERP5 through SOAP Web services with other enterprise applications
in a transactional way".
The implementation has been a success for Nexedi with the possibility of adding
new features and regular updates every year since going into production. Initial
performance issues could be easily resolved and critical components, like the
switch from MySQL to MariaDB were made without affecting overall system functionality.
Sebastion Robin, responsible manager at Nexedi:
The TSXX project running for such a long time also enabled us to learn and
improve our testing framework. Unit tests were absolutely necessary as we kept
adding new features over the years. By testing rigorously for regressions and
system performance through our fully automated test framework, we can ensure
that our ERP5 implementation keeps performing at the required level as the