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					                                              Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0
                                              Customer Solution Case Study

                                              Belgian Company Improves Workflows with
                                              New Programming Model

                                              “Due to the unified developing model and the support
Customer: Elia
Web Site:
                                              of industrial standards related to XML Web services,
Customer Size: 1,220                          we aren’t stuck with one unique protocol.”
Country or Region: Belgium
Industry: Energy                              Gilles Flisch, Microsoft Applications Manager, Elia

Customer Profile                              Based in Brussels, Elia is Belgium’s electricity transmission system
Elia is Belgium’s electricity transmission
system operator, and is responsible for
                                              operator. It links electricity producers, distributors, and high-
operating the electricity grid. The company   consuming industries, both within Belgium and throughout Europe.
employs 1,220 people and has been listed
on the European Brussels market since 20
                                              The company needed to respond quickly to changes in the energy
June 2005.                                    market. The existing interface and settings were difficult to use,
Software and Services
                                              which led to long development times. As a result, developers often
 Technologies                                needed more time to perform requests or had to turn down
  − Microsoft .NET Framework version 3.0
 Microsoft Visual Studio
                                              requests from their co-workers. Elia saw new opportunities with the
  − Microsoft Visual Studio 2005              release of the Microsoft® .NET Framework version 3.0, the
 Windows Workflow Foundation
 Windows Communication Foundation
                                              managed code programming model for Windows®. Taking
 Windows Presentation Foundation             advantage of Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows
                                              Communication Foundation, the organisation now has a strong and
                                              unified application framework that helps developers create
                                              standardised applications quickly.

                                              Business Needs                                        connection between France—Europe’s
                                              Electricity is transmitted over a high-voltage        largest electricity exporter—and the markets
                                              grid from electricity generators to distribution      of Northern Europe, the Belgian grid plays a
                                              system operators and large industrial                 key role in the European market.
                                              consumers. As Belgium’s transmission
                                              system operator, Brussels-based Elia and its          Elia has an important role as market
For more information about other Microsoft    1,220 employees aim to organise                       facilitator and is therefore constantly looking
customer successes, please visit:
                                              transparent, objective, and non-                      to improve its IT infrastructure, develop new
                                              discriminatory access to the grid. As a key           initiatives, and react with greater flexibility to
developments in the market. In 2007, the                                “We’d been waiting for Windows                    copy and paste. We have a graphic
company’s 28 software developers started                                Communication Foundation for our service-         representation of the workflow and
looking for a homogeneous application                                   oriented applications that currently use Web      documentation ready to use. That way, we
framework that would help them create                                   services,” says Flisch. “Communication            don’t have to recode everything and the
additional functions for existing applications                          Foundation is free with Microsoft .NET            development process is much quicker,” says
more quickly.                                                           Framework 3.0 and helps support quick             Flisch.
                                                                        development of applications. Due to the
The existing tool wasn’t user friendly, which                           unified developing model and the support of       Each workflow is composed of diverse
led to slow development times. Gilles Flisch,                           industrial standards related to XML Web           activities and modules that are then
Microsoft Applications Manager, Elia, says:                             services, we aren’t stuck with one unique         schematised. For example, the human
“We used to have to write everything in code,                           protocol. It can be XML today, but if it’s        resources training process is written in
which could be quite complex and hard to                                something else tomorrow, this won’t be a          Workflow Foundation and composed of
support. For this reason, we needed too much                            problem for us.”                                  presenting a training theme, inviting
time to develop adaptations or                                                                                            participants, assembling agendas, booking a
modernisations. Sometimes, we even had to                               The migration took place at the beginning of      room, and receiving the direct manager’s
reject requests. Of course, alternatives existed                        2007 and was completed in only two days           approval. Now, because of the application
to avoid this complexity, but they were too                             for most of the applications. “We were            framework, developers can automate this
expensive. We decided to look for a unified                             already prepared for the migration because        whole process.
and standardised model that would let us                                we used Web Services Enhancements for
automate workflows.”                                                    Microsoft .NET version 2.0. Now that we’re        “Previously, we had to write everything in
                                                                        used to our new environment, we create new        code, which proved complex and difficult to
Solution                                                                applications faster, and working in a             support. Now, developers view workflows in
After assessing technologies available on the                           distributed architecture is no longer an          terms of graphics, which leads to quicker
market, Elia chose the Microsoft® .NET                                  issue,” says Flisch.                              and easier creation and update of
Framework version 3.0, the managed code                                                                                   applications.”
programming model for Windows®. It                                      Benefits
combines the power of Microsoft .NET                                    By choosing the .NET Framework 3.0 and            Improved Developer and User Satisfaction
Framework version 2.0 with Windows                                      taking advantage of Workflow Foundation           Everyday, software developers at Elia receive
Presentation Foundation, Windows                                        and Communication Foundation, Elia now            requests from their coworkers to create
Communication Foundation, Windows                                       has a strong and unified application              applications. These include automating the
Workflow Foundation, and Windows                                        framework that helps develop applications         workflow for e-mail traffic. If someone
CardSpace. Together, these technologies offer                           quickly and easily, improving both developer      receives an e-mail but doesn’t answer in the
compelling user experiences, seamless                                   and user satisfaction. The company has            agreed timeframe, that e-mail is
communication across technology                                         found a strong foundation for all its             automatically forwarded to the employee’s
boundaries, and the ability to support a wide                           programming needs.                                manager to help ensure follow-up.
range of business processes.
                                                                        Simple and Flexible Development                   The team has to react immediately to such
Workflow Foundation helps users to quickly                              Workflow Foundation offers a quick way to         requests, and all they now need is a few
implement processes. “We have built our own                             respond to current needs by providing             hours to seamlessly modify the workflow.
application framework based on Windows                                  company processes that can then be easily         “The biggest advantage of the application is
Workflow Foundation. The technology requires                            adapted to meet changes in the market. For        the ease with which you can update a code.
some training because you have to think in                              example, developers can adapt activities          Our colleagues are pleased because they
terms of workflows and business processes.                              that are part of a certain workflow and reuse     see a quicker response to their requests
But, once mastered, it has many advantages,”                            them in another workflow in any other             which, in turn, gives us more satisfaction,”
says Flisch.                                                            application. “We’re dealing with a simple         says Flisch.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

Document published January 2008
Elia has an internal development team, but
also turns to external partners for the
development of some applications. “Working
with the new technologies helps us respond
faster to requests and therefore provide
cheaper services than external developers.”
says Flisch.

Solid Base for the Future
Elia is satisfied with its new solution. “Not only
is Communication Foundation the ideal
programming model for us, but we also know
we’ll continue to benefit from our investment,”
says Flisch. “In addition, the development
team can configure applications faster and
more effectively.”

Elia is looking forward to using Presentation
Foundation in the near future. As soon as
Microsoft Visual Studio® 2008 hits the
market, developers will collaborate more
easily with the designers. “If they write their
scripts in Windows Presentation Foundation
rather than a non-integrated program, we will
be able to use it straight away without having
to convert it first,” says Flisch. “We can then
continue to work in the same environment,
which will save 20 per cent of our time. As our
long-term goal is to achieve the same work
quicker and with less coding, we are already
planning a pilot project and hope to start as
soon as possible.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

Document published January 2008

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