ASYCUDA
Technology

The UNCTAD Programme has worked on Internet related technologies and reliable state-of-the-art IT tools to design the AsycudaWorld system. A comparative study of available technologies (development platforms, libraries, software components) was performed. The selection of new technologies was done in respect of the fundamentals of the Programme strategy and following the paramount principle that the selected tools have to allow the development of ASYCUDAWorld extensions, taking full advantage of the new available technologies and the Internet environment.

Some of these criteria are listed below:
  • Internet based ;
  • Independent of RDBMS;
  • Independent of hardware platform(s);
  • Independent of operating system(s);
  • Resilience to telecom breakdown;
  • Scalability;
  • Built-in security features;
  • Product entry cost (programmers training);Availability of specific features: multilingual, document ownership management, audit facilities etc.

The Programme has selected an integrated set of components, which is the basis of the new generation of ASYCUDA products.

In addition, the Programme believes that the next technology that will radically change the business [and Customs] world is the emergence of wireless devices. The AsycudaWorld platform includes therefore the support of these new “Internet appliances”. In that respect, the Programme is currently working on the definition of functionalities to be made available through such advanced technology.

Features
    

Written in Java

The ASYCUDAWorld systems are written entirely in Java, run locally or collaboratively, networked through Internet

n-tier architecture

The ASYCUDAWorld general architecture is a state of the art n-tier system composed of modular products. Final user products are e-Document applications. The first tier is the [Web-based or Desktop] client with messaging to and from the, the middle, or second set of application tiers, and messaging via JDBC/ODBC to and from the database or other server process i.e. the third set of database tiers

Business rules and logic on client and/or server

ASYCUDAWorld application logic and business rules can reside in all tiers. Developers can program the logic into the Java client or/and into the Java server and use service calls from the server to client or from the client to server

Runs on top of any Database

Oracle, Informix, Sybase, Interbase, SQLServer anywhere there is a JDBC v3.0 bridge/driver available.

Runs on any OS equipped with a Java Virtual Machine

Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP/UX, Windows XP/NT, Mac or anywhere there is a Java Virtual Machine.

Clustering ASYCUDAWorld allows cluster solutions targeting high availability environments. Clustering is the use of multiple computers, multiple storage devices, and redundant interconnections, to form what appears to users as a single highly available system. Cluster computing can be used for load balancing as well as for high availability
Technology Benefits
  

ASYCUDA ++

ASYCUDAWorld

Benefits

 3.1 Architecture

Client-server

Internet client-server n-tier, 100% Web-based

Scalability only limited by the hardware (servers & telecoms) available for the implementation of the system

 3.2 Server Platform

OS Unix servers C Unix engines, ORACLE / INFORMIX RDMBS

100% JAVA enabled OS independent servers (Unix, Windows, Apple …) Database independent (ORACLE, INFORMIX, Sybase, DB2, SQL Server…)

Full operating system and database/cross-platform independence. Cost and scalability advantages.

 3.3 Client Platform

PCs under Microsoft Windows 9x, 2k, XP… Object Oriented Pascal module, local database

Any devices (PCs, PDAs, Mobile Phones, Tablet PCs …) Ultra-thin (for mobile devices), thin (with major Web Browsers) and thick clients (stand-alone clients) Linux, Windows, Apple…

Capability of supporting a wide range of devices, anytime and anywhere. Major functional, cost and scalability advantages.

 3.4 User Interface

Ergonomics screens (WYSIWYG, character based)

Ergonomics screens (WYSIWYG, graphical, real document feeling) Multi-media Desktop persistence

Bridging the gap between physical and electronic documents (paperless environment) Major functional and operational advantages, particularly in the customs enforcement area. Ergonomic advantages.

 3.5 Communication

TCP/IP protocol

Web, Internet & Intranet

Full telecommunication infrastructure independence. Cost advantages.

 3.6 Data exchange

EDIFACT

EDIFACT, XML

Fully open system and data exchange capabilities

Cooperative sub-systems (A++ Gates)

Document Object Model

Major scalability advantages.

 3.7 Security

User authentication (group, name and password)

User authentication (group, name and password)

User’s access restricted to the functions of its group profile. Full and complete audit history.

Symmetrical encryption

Asymmetrical encryption

High-level of security.

Built-in security features (PKI), electronic signature etc

Several levels and types of encryption algorithms available.

 3.8 Specific

Multi-language/alphabet (user-interface)

Multi-language/alphabet (user-interface & data) Unicode

Fully configurable system, according to each country

Historic data management (Tariff, control tables …

E-documents Resilience to telecom breakdown Documents ownership management Full tracking of document changes Audit facilities

Major ergonomic and operational advantages Full and

Architecture

The ASYCUDAWorld platform complies with the following overall requirements:
  • Internet based
  • Independent of RDBMS
  • Independent of hardware platforms
  • Resilience to telecom breakdowns
  • Scalability
  • Built-in security features
  • Product entry cost (programmers training)
  • Availability of specific features: multilingual, document ownership management, audit facilities etc.

The Programme selected the Java technology and derived products. The key technical buzzwords are Java SDK 1.4, SWING GUI, JDBC, SSL, HTML, XML, PKI etc, and various off-the-shelve technical components and object libraries.

The platform is based on a sophisticated technical architecture that does away with the need to maintain permanent connections with a national server – something that is particularly important for countries with unreliable telecommunications . Where telecommunications are more reliable, the traditional Web approach can be used. The ASYCUDAWorld platform also exploits the potential of mobile Internet access devices.

ASYCUDAWorld can work with all major RDBMS (including Oracle, Sybase, DB2, Informix, SQL Server etc) and most of the operating systems (such as Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX and MS/Windows). The platform’s use of XML (extensible mark-up language) allows the exchange of any document inside and outside the system, between Customs Administrations and traders and between Customs Administrations in different countries. It is “Java-native”, meaning that it was designed as an open standard to be used with Java and that countries can thus modify or extend the application without requesting assistance from UNCTAD. And it is fully compatible with ASYCUDA++, ensuring a smooth transition to e-Customs for user countries.

It implements the concept of ‘e-documents’ that, once plugged into the ASYCUDAWorld platform, reflect in the IT world the paper documents used currently and implement the required business processes. The great advantage of this approach is that since e-documents are ubiquitous and invisible, it opens a wealth of new functionality: ASYCUDAWorld platform is therefore ideal for promoting business process reform and e-government.

The selected technology will be particularly useful to countries where poor fixed-line telecommunications are a major problem for e-government applications. It is however powerful enough to accommodate the operational and managerial needs of Customs operations in any industrialized country as well.