Tag Archives: Application Integration

Why do we Integrate?

Recently, I was having dinner with some old friends and the conversation centered on our respective fields that we work in.  When the conversation turned to me, I chatted up how I worked in commercial software, particularly the Integration space.  I received some curious looks, like my friends were trying to get a grasp on what I was talking about.  Then it hit me….What does Integration mean to someone unfamiliar with the discipline? Why does it matter? What are the benefits, and the risks? How much of a problem is this? So, I decided to write a blog, from my perspective, on why Integration is important.

First, let’s think about the meta-types of challenges that businesses face today. Two flavors emerge quickly; problems of the moment (tactical) and visions of where they want to go (strategic). Continue reading

Improving AS2 Security Using Secure Proxy

Securing electronic communications is of paramount concern for companies exchanging business-critical transactions.  A recommended method to ensure a high level of security is to introduce an additional layer to the process: HTTP Proxy.  A previous EXTOL blog discussed some of the benefits provided by a proxy for AS2 transmissions; this will focus on the EXTOL Secure (ESX) Proxy.

It is important to consider that Secure Proxy is not a generalized HTTP proxy to be used for all network traffic.  It is a lightweight, low complexity solution designed to work for AS2 traffic only.  Secure Proxy should be deployed within a “DMZ” where it can perform important security functions such as weeding out insecure and potentially malicious traffic before it ever reaches the firewall. Continue reading

Give your Database a Makeover: Create a View

When setting up a process to translate data from your backend database to another format, it is common to realize that your source DB data is too disparate with how your target data format needs to be mapped/structured. Introducing database views can often simplify integration between two formats and reduce or eliminate the need for external programming.

A view is simply a named select statement that is stored in a database as an object. Using a view can simplify the mapping process by renaming fields (rows) to a purpose more easily understood.   Continue reading

Integration Using External Tables

It is not uncommon to encounter situations where you need additional data that is not generally available either from your EDI application/interface (outbound) or from your trading partner (inbound).

Consider the situation where your trading partner sends purchase orders but omits the item descriptions…this item description being a necessary piece of information for processing the received orders.  One option is to require that your trading partner includes this description for each item on the order – good luck trying to persuade a buyer to accommodate your request.  Another option is to modify your application to eliminate this requirement – this may require a considerable amount of redevelopment.

The solution: Create an external table to host descriptions for each partner item that can be accessed during the translation process. Continue reading

AS2 Communications Balancing Act

Successful AS2 communications require a balancing act between two conflicting demands: your infrastructure has to be open enough to talk with your trading partners, but secure enough to keep out intruders and repel attacks. The familiar firewall is the tool of choice to resolve this, but it still requires that you tell your trading partner which ports are open. This could expose your network to security lapses on their end. Fortunately, there are several options available to minimize or eliminate this risk.

An obvious solution is to restrict incoming traffic only to the known IP addresses of your trading partners. While this is a good start, some other problems present themselves. Continue reading