Thursday, December 01, 2011

Why are feeds bad?


I was recently asked to take a look at an architecture in use by a client. As I started the analysis, I noticed that there was a high reliance on Web Services for communicating data between systems. Now Web Services are not necessarily a bad thing, but when I looked at the back end systems that were involved, it seemed rather unnecessary. There was no overwhelming requirement for security and there were simpler, but still effective means to move the data. Adding in a Web Services component introduced extra hardware, software and network hops that in my analysis provided inefficient service and an unneeded, overly complicated architecture.

When moving data between systems, there is nothing wrong with using temporary ASCII files or SQL Tables.  SQL Tables are particularly useful since they can be optimized for read/write operations and can have some extra security placed on them. Also most IdM systems allow for encrypting data to provide an extra layer of security. Sometimes, these systems are the easiest means of communicating between disparate systems.  Let’s face it, how many mainframe or AS/400 systems have native SPML support?
For instances where there is a native LDAP interface, don’t be afraid to use it, NetWeaver IDM is excellent at both reading and writing to any LDAP v3 compliant system. Heck, any User Provisioning system worth its salt needs this anyway.

So as a final word to those considering how to connect widely (or even not so widely) disparate systems, think again to the basics and decide if the use case, the customer, and the technology really require Web Services and could not be better served by the big three: ASCII, SQL and LDAP.

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