Proof Of Concept- A Catalyst for Enterprise Integrations

Ganesh Akondi By Ganesh Akondi on November 19, 2013

Sharing a common purpose or set of objectives is the loosest form of integration.Integration generally means combining parts so that they form an efficient whole.

Integration during product development is a process in which separately produced components or subsystems are combined and problems in their interactions are addressed.

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Integration is akin to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. You have at your disposal pieces of different colors and sizes and a template that shows you what the final product should look like. With this in mind, you start assembling and arranging the puzzle pieces. 

This basic principle applies to Information Technology (IT) as well--the smaller pieces (or blocks) are different systems (and / or products). Depending on the requirement and the architecture, a solution is produced.At the same time, checking compatibility before connecting systems or products is crucial, which is a decision that is determined mainly through knowledge and previous experience. There are situations where testing needs to be done before conforming to the architecture. In these cases, building a POC (proof of concepts) is extremely beneficial.

Let's look at a couple of use cases:

POC / use case:

Here, we are integrating OpenText CORDYS XForm in SAP portal and addressing Single Sign On(SSO)

 

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Three systems are involved here:

 1.SAP (Portal)

 2. OpenText CORDYS Business Operations Platform  

3.SSO provider

A quick overview: SAP portal supports a concept called iViews. Just as each page of a newspaper consists of news items, each portal page consists of iViews. We can add an unlimited number of iViews to an SAP page in portal. We control access by adding roles to the created pages.

In OpenText CORDYS we create an xform and access this from outside using REST URL or CAF URL. In SAP portal we create an iView based on  OpenText CORDYS xform url. Next, we deal with Single sign on. Once the user logs into SAP portal, OpenText CORDYS system shouldn't ask for a password. In order to achieve this, SAML2 has become mainstream for authentication. On Windows, SAML2 can be used in combination with Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS). ADFS is a Microsoft solution that provides users with Single Sign-on access to applications. ADFS is a claim based system on top of Active Directory and based on the SAML 2 protocol. OpenText CORDYS has different configuration screens to configure Authenticators, Service Trust and Certificates.

This way we can connect 3 different systems together to achieve our goal. Bringing back our analogy of jigsaw puzzles, this type of  POC is similar to the pieces of the puzzle. And several of these combine to provide a concrete solution.

 

Business requirement use case:


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When we look at the business scenario, the customer can either talk to the call centre executive or he can log into the customer portal to do a specific job. In this case we have 2 portals, one is the enterprise portal and the other one is a customer portal. The proof of concept discussed above fits into this customer portal section and becomes a part of the big picture.

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Once the underlying workflow is triggered either by Enterprise portal / Customer portal, it continues to execute the tasks in order as orchestrated by BPM model.  The BPM can be used to call external webservices or system related webservices and similarly SAP system can be designed to interact with other databases and systems which means integration never stops ! (Requirement is the only barrier).

A few key points to consider when integrating:

1. Have the big picture in mind.

2. Leverage potential of the systems.

3. Build POCs to create and test small pieces of the puzzle.

4. Add multiple POC chunks to make an effective building block.

5. Combine the building blocks to produce an effective solution.

6. Keep Integrating!

 

Next Steps:

1.) Interested in crafting great POCs? Read our six guiding principles on chalking out POCs to test concepts for creating proof points. 

2.) If you'd like to know how we've done Enterprise Intergration for one of our long standing clients, please watch our movie on MP Objects.

 View MP Objects Movie

 

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