Integration : Code VS. Integration Platforms


Integration

In a rapid world every organization is purchasing cloud based solution or SaaS technology (SaaS – Software as Service) to keeping an agenda in their minds to save money, infrastructure, ease of use, everything under on umbrella and most important an complete IT Freedom.

When organization opt for Cloud Solutions they have few major concerns – ADOPTION of SaaS technology. Once they cross this big hurdle there next challenge is Integration of SaaS technology with their existing system. Integration looks extremely simple on papers. Every SaaS Technology providers gives the access of API’s.  I have seen in past most of the CTO’s prefer to do in house integration – It becomes first choice.

CTO’s always feels that they have bright team who can operate any code and create the bridge between two or more than two systems. And then starts the research work which take weeks and turns into no result. This entire activity increase the organization ROI’s and the cloud technology budget crosses the border easily resulting the closure of SaaS technology at times.

Forward thinking organization don’t take this approach their integration projects from a one – and – done perspectives. They see the big picture which included their on premise installed applications, cloud applications. Every application should be connected to successfully deliver within the overall business strategy.

Custom Coding Challenges – 

As an technical architect I always emphasis on the robust SaaS application integration solution which includes the following:

  • Perfectly designed integration process : Moving data between two systems is not simply the case of moving data from one database to another. Data structure will surely differ. Rules of synchronising will surely have difference.Beyond this one has to consider business logics too. Coding transformation and data conversation is one one part of integration. Hard coding business logics into integration takes many iterations and testing time. Most of the times these process become extremely challenging and make the project hard to handle.
  • Ability to work with fast growing world of API’s : Every system has its own API’s, own rules, own nuances. The biggest challenge in API world is you need to understand your SaaS Solution also you need to understand the application which you need to integration with your cloud solution. When you choose to code, you need to completely rely on you Developers. You also need to force your developers to understand the new API’s with other technologies. Many API’s has its own programming language and even they are based on standards like SOAP / REST / WSDL will always have unique capabilities, different authentication requirements and different rules.One of the biggest benefits of a multi-tenant SaaS architecture is new applications can be deployed quickly and uniformly. Most API’s vendors update their APIs at least 4 times a year. For a custom code this means a broken integration every time your SaaS vendor upgrades.SaaS application allows you to create custom fields, business logics and objects to your org / instance. These changes immediately reflects in the API. New fields, links needs to be added in code in order to be integrated with other system. With custom driven functionality it means your project manager needs to pull your developer who will be away from the existing project to make sure that integration should not break.Whether it is connecting new systems together or upgrading current system it needs a full time IT resource to monitor small or big changes. 
  • Strict Monitoring : Unknown Errors. System is temporarily unavailable. What happens when connected apps shows error or down time messages. As a CTO or IT Director what will you do ? or How will you react ? In broad what next ??In fast moving life Integrated systems needs reporting system to monitor every transformation whether it is success or fail. System should also trigger / alert the stake holders of the project that something went wrong. This is one essential feature in integration what has went wrong and where. Only detailed logs can help to determine the exact type of fault and the best way to identify the same.
  • Performance / Process Optimization : The multi tenant nature means that there are limitations on number of time you make a call to the application. Resulting the extra usage of API’s limit. If you aren’t coding around these limitations this will surly trouble your existing integration and decrease the performance; performance loss could be exponential. Hard-coding against WSDL all but ensure little scalability and lot of re coding in your coming time.

Benefits of ETL Tools / Integration Platforms – Strategic organizations focus on buying an integration platforms that doesn’t need IT resources or infrastructure. They need applications which can be architecture to scale quickly as the organization and infrastructure grow. Modern integration solutions address cloud integration challenges which includes :

  • Interface designed for Business Analyst or System Administrators : One of the biggest challenge in the cloud is the ability to give your BA or other non technical users administrative power of the application, while eliminating dependence on IT to mange the underlying infrastructure.These benefits eliminates developer dependency and it will allow BA to easily modify any integration between on premise application or cloud based solution. Connections to systems are created using credentials forms, business logics and workflows are defined graphically and data mapping and transformations are done with our coding.Business process changes, and it is the BA / or Domain Expert who understands them the best. By allowing the person in this role to implement the process change within the integration will significantly decrease the ROI of the initial cloud investment.
  • Loosely Coupled Web Services : Modern integration platform provides connectivity to any API with out coding. It will give the ability to pull in any API, and immediately display the structure of the data to the end user. This functionality is important to ensure that integration will keep working even the SaaS vendor updates the API or you make the customizations to your cloud apps / solutions.Perfect platform supports all type of Web Services, protocols, including HTTPS, SOAP, & REST.
  • Redundancy and Performance Optimization : Network connections and by extension web based API’s are never going to be 100% reliable. There will be time when call out times or connectivity goes down. Integration Platform removes these types of worries. They also ensure to includes process for guaranteed message delivery, failure notifications and other error messages. These type of tools are easily customizable and any non technical user can manage them. Most of the integration platform provides various data chunking, parallel processing, and data streaming technologies.
  • Administration and Testing : One of the biggest advantages that integration platform has over the code is the ability to log, track and mange when things goes wrong. Built in administration consoles allow users to drill down and pin point exactly where the failure occurred.Another advantage of ETL or integration tools is ability to fix things before they go wrong. Testing tools can be used to load sample data run operations in test mode without touching production data and automatically highlight the issues such as malformed queries or data formats.
  • Integration on the Go : Few integration platform providers are providing the cloud based integration solutions that means you can do the administration on the go, you can login with the secure credentials and can make new / modify existing transformation over the ipads, android tablets. This means you don’t need to install the heavy integration application on you machine.=

CONCLUSION

Many companies believe that integration is simply moving the data from Point A to Point B, they think this can be simply achieved with in house development, with less money and more control. In fact, for even the most simple integrations, the opposite usually ends up being true. Custom Code is not a long term solution. Over time, the lack of scalability and dependency on programmers will increase costs and create unmanageable collection of hand coded scripts.

Integration strategy should be take the long term goals while eschewing short term fixes. Because it is easy to get up and running with SaaS applications, the natural tendency is to quickly cobble together connectivity between our other systems.

Best of breed integration solutions will mirror the value delivered by the cloud, scale to meet the rapidly changing world of SaaS and allow companies to focus resources on business expansion and future growth.

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Posted in Cloud Computing, Integration | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Few Tips for New Salesforce.com Admins


Today Salesforce has become one of the booming technology and every one in the industry want to take a flavor of this. Few of them wanted to learn it and few wanted to implement the same for their business. I have been having almost 12 years of experience and currently heading one of the biggest IT Consulting organization Salesforce Team. Based on my experience I wanted to share my experience and few tips & tricks which I share with my teams and freshers and share the same here –

For Administration – 
1. Don’t rush in for the certification. You need lot of practice and patience to attempt for the certification. You may feel that I am blunt but I won’t even afraid to say that you may fail if you go without practice.
2. Salesforce is easy to learn and if you can visualize business / process then you can related it with Salesforce.com standard objects as well as custom objects.
3. Push yourself to college or school time. Read as much you can. Spend time on communities, Facebook groups, linkedin groups and salesforce blogs.
3.1 Read and try to attempt Questions & Answer on the community and also try to implement the same in your developer org’s.
4. Try to utilize all types of developer licenses provided in Developer Org which includes – Salesforce Platform / Authenticated Website / Portal Licenses / Work.com / Identity, etc. In Developer org Salesforce gives you almost 5579 different types of licenses. 
5. If you have worked on MS EXCEL and you feel you’re good in VLOOKUP, IF, IFELSE, NULL, etc. Then try them in Validation Rules and Work flow rules. If won’t be that tough and you can learn this easily.
6. Try the Setup section of Salesforce.com in Details which includes – Administer / Build / Monitor.
7. You will or may get access as Salesforce Administrator. To see how security works then create other Users  with different profiles & roles. You will get the very good flavor of security.
8. Must follow advise, you should use all editions of Salesforce.com. Having worked on all the editions you will learn lot much in terms of security, data visibility, availability of functionalities etc.
9. Always take a look at the solutions provided on App Exchange.
10. Before going for the certifications do read the study guide available in web accessor.
11. While giving exam read all the questions carefully. If you think you have some confusion then attempt it in last. 60 Questions can be easily answered.
12. Do check the salesforce release documents. I understand reading 300 – 400 long document is tough to read, for his you can refer communities and other places.
13. Check the videos on You tube.com. You will find good amount of video sessions to administer Salesforce resources.
Posted in Cloud Computing, Enterpreneurship, Salesforce.com, Salesforce.com, Visualforce | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Change User Name Password through Script


CodingAlthough resetting password can be done directly from user. But in case Administrator wants to set the predefined password then here is the easy way of doing the same –
User usr = [select Id from User where username=’appuser@myzc.com’];
System.setPassword(usr.Id,’welcome1234′); 
Posted in Cloud Computing, Salesforce.com, Visualforce | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integration of Google News via Visualforce Page


Google News aims to organize all the world’s news and make it accessible to its users, while providing the best possible experience for those seeking useful and timely news information. But the question is how will you get the Account news dynamically in salesforce. Here is how you can achieve it –

I am sure the below mentioned solution will help lot of non technical system administrators.
Google

In order to bring the Google Maps please follow my previous post –
Integrating Google Maps (GMaps) with Salesforce (Accounts / Leads)

Google News Code –

<apex:page standardController="Account">

<apex:includeScript value="https://www.google.com/jsapi" />
<script type="text/javascript">
    google.load('search', '1');

    var newsSearch;

    function searchComplete() {

        var container = document.getElementById('anthologyGoogleNews');
        document.getElementById('anthologyGoogleNews').innerHTML = '';
        if (newsSearch.results && newsSearch.results.length > 0) {
            for (var i = 0; i < newsSearch.results.length; i++) {
                alert(newsSearch.results[i].language);
                if (newsSearch.results[i].language == 'en') {

                var p = document.createElement('p');
                var a = document.createElement('a');
                var h = document.createElement('h3');
                a.href = newsSearch.results[i].unescapedUrl;
                a.innerHTML = 
                    newsSearch.results[i].titleNoFormatting
                     + ' (' + newsSearch.results[i].publisher + ')';
                a.setAttribute('target', '_blank');
                p.innerHTML = newsSearch.results[i].content;

                h.appendChild(a);
                container.appendChild(h);
                container.appendChild(p);
                }
            }
        }
    }
    function onLoad() {
        newsSearch = new google.search.NewsSearch();
        newsSearch.setResultOrder(google.search.Search.ORDER_BY_DATE);
        newsSearch.setResultSetSize(8);
        newsSearch.setSearchCompleteCallback(this, searchComplete, null);
        newsSearch.execute('{!account.name}');
        google.search.Search.getBranding('anthologyGoogleBranding');
    }
    google.setOnLoadCallback(onLoad);
</script>

<style>
    #anthologyGoogleNews h3
     {
        padding: 4px 4px 4px 0;
        font-size: 1.2em;
        width: 828px;
        font-weight: bold;
        color: #336;
        }
    #anthologyGoogleNews h3 a,
    #anthologyGoogleNews h3 a:link,
    #anthologyGoogleNews h3 a:visited,
    #anthologyGoogleNews h3 a:hover,
    #anthologyGoogleNews h3 a:active {
        color: #336;
        text-decoration: none;
    }
</style>
<div id="anthologyGoogleBranding"></div>
<div id="anthologyGoogleNews">Please wait whilst we load the news</div>
</apex:page>
Posted in Integration, Salesforce.com, Visualforce | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Spring’ 14 Special Notes


Image

The release notes for Spring 14 have just been published, so just in case you have not had chance to study the 325 pages yet, I will do it for you! The Spring 14 upgrade will magically appear around Valentine’s day, so here is my Top 10 highlights to look out for –

  1. Salesforce A – The Salesforce A mobile app is officially launched, so you can edit user details, reset passwords, assign permission sets, plus for unlocking, freezing, and deactivating user accounts…all from your mobile device. Plus one of my favourite parts of Salesforce A is that you can launch into the Salesforce Community (i.e. Ideas, Answers, User Groups, etc.)
  2. New Data Import Wizard – This was available in Beta, but now it’s here…”You don’t have to pick and choose between different wizards in Setup anymore. Now you can do it all in one place !”.
  3. Skills (Pilot only) – Add and share your skills on your Chatter Profile, so you can identify experts in different areas. This looks similar to how you can use Skills on your LinkedIn profile.
  4. Post Announcements in Chatter Groups – Post group announcements to highlight important messages which will appear in a nice yellow box on the group page.
  5. Communities – Private Messages & Badges – Users can now send private Chatter messages to other members within a community (so they don’t appear in your feed, your profile, global search results, or any other part of Chatter that’s publicly visible). Also you can show appreciation for users in your communities by giving, receiving, and creating badges.
  6. Changes to Forecasts – Forecasts 1.0 (Classic) will be retired, and Customizable Forecasting will not be developed any further, so Spring 14 sees the push of Collaborative Forecasting. There are also some new features of Forecasts, so time to revisit Forecasts for us all !
  7. File Storage Per Paid User License Increased from 612 MB to 2 GB – What’s not to like there !
  8. Flexible Sorting in Reports – In a report with multiple grouping levels, sort groupings by the summary value that defines each grouping.
  9. Hide Unused Report Types – This should tidy things up a bit !
  10. Partial Data Sandboxes – Partial Data sandboxes include all of your organization’s metadata and add a selected amount of your production organization’s data that you define using a ‘sandbox template’.

Please note –

Note that the Spring’14 release dates have been put back, so keep an eye on this site for the date for your specific instance. 

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Salesforce 1 | Critics and Future of Mobility


Yesterday One of the famous website posted – Salesforce launches Salesforce 1: Will it future proof?

Dreamforce has been started with a great kickoff and I am sure this is going to next big increadable thing in mobile and till next year. It not going to be sell it going to be one – one model for everyone.

The key features what Salesforce 1 can do for you –

  • The company builds a narrative about how its parts go together.
  • Salesforce can build next-gen applications on its platform.
  • A mobile app will tie in existing Salesforce investments.
  • Quick app in few hours. No need to worry.
  • Increase Service, Sales, Market. I am sure its going to be beyond the limits.
  • Its all about Opportunities coming up to you way.
  • Build any type of type of app. Idea to Delivery. Its fast.
  • The company is aiming to build a more robust ecosystem around its cloud as 16 independent software vendors have launched Salesforce 1 apps and 125 more are coming soon.
  • Open API’s for everything.

I’m trying to capture the maximum. Please find the details –

Download the fact file what all Salesforce 1 can do for you – Salesfoce1 App Guide and Gallery.pdf

Posted in Salesforce.com | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment