Case Study

Virtual1

A web portal for wholesaling telecommunication services

Connecting people in the UK with software-defined solution from the core to the edge

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Foreword

Cooperation with Virtual1 Englished us. We count in inches, drink in pints, and having a cup of tea or coffee even have no time for it. And sometimes we feel like James Bond.

It’s not surprising. Over 8 years, we have been developing an online hub for large telecommunications providers to distribute services to end-users across the UK. Read below about the system with which the client reached a coverage of 75% of all UK businesses.

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Story

Virtual1 started its journey to provide computer-related services and consulting for the British. Founders flamed up with an idea to become Software-Defined to make their clients independent of industry challenges related to providing value-added first-class comms services.

The cost of getting the Internet in England is sky-high and can reach up to £100 per meter for laying cables in places. As a leased line provider, Virtual1 occupied an available niche in the market to offer businesses the Internet connection in a frugal way.

When we started, customer relationship management and coordination were mostly manual work. Ready to spend on customer experience, they needed a solution of corporate-level transforming manual to digital. That was Liferay.

Virtual1 voiced a need for a centralized partner portal to control the wholesaling telecommunication services directly. Aimprosoft was asked to help Virtual1 build a software solution that will assist in the commercial growth of partners.

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Challenges

In 2007 Virtual1 was launched as a network aggregator supporting a group of partners. Initially, there was one web portal with several instances. Aspiring to become a wholesale communications provider, Virtual1 faced the challenge of managing several systems that supported equipment, ordering, communication with providers and suppliers.

After Juniper core went live in 2011, making Virtual1 an ISP (Internet Services Provider), it was decided to create and develop a software-defined platform-based environment for broadband internet providers.

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Project team:
6 Backend developers, 2 Frontend developers, 2 QAs

In progress since:
September, 2010

Solutions

1Portal

Before we started working on the partner portal, we figured out the needs of users the portal should cover. Split user stories helped us more closely identify ourselves with the users developing the functionality.

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Being an award-winning UK company in the telecommunications field, Virtual1 has a wide net of distributing partners. We had to develop a web portal for them to make business possible in one place:

leaf Сonnection with Virtual1 systems
leaf Users and tariffs monitoring within one ecosystem online
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With that in mind, we cleared up five S-factors of business partners growth to focus on:

1

Smart and quick onboarding of new partner

2

Single content for a single partner

3

Security of access and authentication

4

Settings and configuration of users, customers, pages, permissions

5

Simple design configuration with the custom themes

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It is expensive to be a pioneer and create something new. So it was decided to use Liferay Community Edition for the web portal as a proven solution.

Liferay

Liferay is an enterprise-class comprehensive portal-based solution that allows uniting all corporate content under one umbrella and sharing it with customers under strict permissions. With that in mind, we used Liferay as a parent configuration website with subordinated partner websites that differ in content and rules.

Settings and configuration of users, customers, pages, permissions

Sttings

Being a leader, Virtual1 supports a growing base of clients permanently. Propelled by a wish to establish an individual approach to every partner within one ecosystem, tops of the company wanted to manage relationships assigning roles to users grouped in partner sites, organizations, or other units.

Scoped permissions would get content out to the partners as well as partners would communicate with clients under the same rules available on their corporate websites within the Virtual1’s portal. User grouping in Liferay arranges communication with clients in the way of showing business information on orders, prices, statuses, contracts, etc. to whom it may concern. Each page has a set of modules that displays a piece of proper information for hierarchically dependent employees.

A well-ordered system of communication made a step ahead towards the faster business growth of partners.

Smart and quick onboarding of new partner

Smart

It was important to get on board Partners 1 as quickly as possible. Liferay turned out to be the very solution that let us connect partners filling out the registration form and confirm it with one click of a button. We made onboarding as simple as possible, enabling Virtual1 clients to register with the name (or name of the website) and contact data.

Quick deployment of websites for partners with the ready-to-use functionality (portlets) allowed Virtual1’s clients to start their business (with Partners 2) and cooperate way faster.

Security of access and authentication

Security

Undertaking development of corporate portal in the trending telecommunications industry, we were sure to see successful things take off though implementing the system for clients with digital products was nascent.

From a marketing perspective, Virtual1 didn’t need to use interests broadcasted by clients via social networks. Selling in the B2B segment, Virtual1 does not need to focus on buyer behavior and interests, unlike B2C customers being targeted everywhere. However, it is crucial to ensure secure access for its clients to portal websites. In Liferay, roles and permissions are provided for personalization of content for user groupings through the hierarchical concept.

Simple design configuration with the custom themes

Simple

Doing business is not just a race for revenue figures. Understanding it, Virtual1 wanted to offer its partners an individual online space highlighting their individual style. Due to themes, the same functionality can have a different look for partners aligning with their corporate style.

A custom theme is an element of identity for companies (Partner 2). Using corporate colors and custom positioning of content blocks helps optimize the usage of the website and make it more familiar. Offering a wide range of portlets, Liferay is good enough to compose a website with ready-to-use capabilities, not inventing features time after time.

The reusable concept is trending in enterprise software development last time as well. It accelerates time to market and saves spending for development.

As a result, 1Portal, a Liferay-based online collaboration hub, was designed to enable partners to control their wholesaling telecommunication services directly.

Single content for a single partner

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The second major task we had to tackle was how to show unique content for every single partner.

Liferay is designed to allow managing unlimited portal instances on a single server. It freed us to deploy a new single website with its domain name with light customizations in a week. Multiple portal instances from a single Liferay installation made it possible for Virtual1 to cooperate with partners directly.

At the same time, partners increased opportunities in building a business with their clients and delivered services to the end customers separately. Each partner website data is kept separate from others so they can perform quoting and ordering disclosing it only for end customers.

We solved a task of partners' growth with quick starting and content separation.

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Development

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With best practices to follow, we made several software solutions for user accounts and back office including

  • a custom order workflow
  • a setting module for service packages
  • a software kit for partner account settings (access, management, end users brief, etc.).

The killer feature is an online availability for partners in ordering products and associated hardware devices, comparing prices of carriers, and performing e-signs.

At the request of the client, we developed a range of custom portlets — web apps in Liferay Portal — to meet the specific needs of Virtual1. Unlimited capabilities of the Liferay-based portal allow serving thousands of Partners 2.

Main features

Location-based real-time quoting

All e-сommerce today offers real prices and calculators to cut a customer journey for customers on the way to completing a purchase. Giving an option, we made it simple as never before. To be connected, prospects can send a request and be offered by different providers according to the required address. They can select a provider from the list comparing prices, availability in the required area, and service packages.

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  • Online price comparison allows comparing prices from internet providers and getting connected with the best deal.
  • Online ordering for partners. With a note of “skip a long wait and access quickly” threaded the Virtual1’s business offering, we made a wizard with several forms to fill out by a partner one by one.
  • All-in-one access to customer services. Virtual1’s clients can manage connection and equipment without leaving the portal jumping from app to app. It saves a pretty much time that can be devoted to strategic planning or business expansion.
  • Online order monitoring is provided by the outside service to keep a hand on the pulse about internet connection running, shutdowns, etc.
  • Web portals for partners and customers are aimed to drive cooperation between Partners 2 and their customers.

Salesforce integration

Following the all-in-one concept, we had to deliver real-time sales information through one communication channel. Virtual1 highly needed to let its clients keep track of the sales process within the Virtual1 account on the portal.

As the entire business system was based on Salesforce solutions, the client wanted to integrate it with a content management portal into one ecosystem.

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Thanks to the two-sided integration 1Portal - Salesforce, Virtual1’s dealers can get data (ordering (cloud ordering), ceasing, renewal, case creation, etc.) generated on the 1Portal delivered to Salesforce.

Data on orders, equipment, business opportunities from Salesforce is displayed on the 1Portal’s dedicated pages Dashboard, Service, and Support.

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1Access

Quotes and orders are at the core of any business. Taking care of completing orders in time, 1Access was designed as a dedicated web page to monitor quotes and orders of partners. It is available for Partners 1 and 2 through all stages from quoting to the full enjoyment of services.

Partners can create quotes and monitor order processing of all services offered by Virtual1. There is a left-side panel that displays the functionality of different types of quotes for services. Marked with a quote ID, status, type, expiry date, and other monitor related actions, quotes have a comprehensive tabular format.

1Access became another tool to influence positively on a partners’ performance.

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UI/UX Design

As usual, content management corporate software systems have a dull interface as if it is created for robots rather than humans. Why not make the portal feel professional and pleasing?

The UI updates needed to reflect the easiness and comfort of interconnection with the portal and highlight the digital specific of the business with color.

Willing to get it aesthetically attractive, collaboratively with the client’s team, we made the website in blue colors with the simple, readable font on the whiteboard of the body, accentuating the virtual origin of digital services.

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Platform: Liferay 6.2.2

Frontend

  • Liferay themes
  • Sass
  • CSS
  • jQuery
  • AngularJS
  • Bootstrap

Backend

  • Liferay
  • Spring
  • Hibernate
  • Spring Boot
  • Salesforce integration
  • PRTG integration
  • Tomcat
  • Elasticsearch
  • Velocity
  • BECS integration

Web Services

  • SOAP
  • JSON

Database

  • PostgreSQL
  • MySQL

Build automation

  • Jenkins
  • Maven
  • Gulp
  • Ant

Results

Since we’ve been working with Virtual1, the number of requests increased 100 times. Staying one of the most influential telecommunications providers in the United Kingdom. B2B distributing corporate portal is currently in progress with many efforts to undertake. Responsive website to let businesses as well as end customers use it easier on the go.

Having behind the title of “Network Provider of the Year” in 2016, Virtual1’s tops intend strongly to make a new shift towards the best.

Are you a wholesaler and need to manage your
distributors separately but united?
We can do it.





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