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Assessing a new integration module

  • 11 September 2014
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*Content migrated from LinkedIn Group- Enterasys OneFabric Connect Central
By: Salvador Ferrer, Director, Solutions Architecture

Last week we received requests to integrate at least three new modules. Two MDM providers and one load balancer. Add this to the request you already did in a previous discussion for specific products. I hope to have answers about the products we discussed in the previous post. I must acknowledge that Fortinet looks like a tough one at first sight. Daniel already commented about this in the discussion, which takes me to the basics of what is what we look at when deciding to create an integration module with a third party.

Assessing if taking information from a third party module is feasible is the first step in deciding if we go ahead with a new integration. First off we must imagine if the integration will deliver any value and a use case. Clearly answering, what is the feature I want to deliver? is the first step in the process. When you do this you probably have in mind your needs and you already know what you want to accomplish using network information in the thirs party of using third party information to configure network behavior. But in our case, I must admit that some integrations left me staring at the ceiling the first time somebody that mentioned them to me.

So be clear in the definition of the outcome.

Next we'll have to find if we have the right tools to do it. Ideally we like to find an API analogous to ours with some documentation and some basic features like, SOAP or REST based, easy (and secure) authentication and most importantly exposing the data wee need. Personally, and I guess this extends to my colleagues in charge of the different integration modules, directly accessing a database is not our first option, but can be done if needed.

With the what and the tools we can start planning the software architecture, usually minimizing the number of API calls is a good requirement to include in the design. My informal performance tests in NetSight's API show pretty decent numbers, but if your program will need to poll the full EndSystem database every ten seconds we may run into serious problems

In parallel with this technical assessment there is a business one. Whether or not the integration is strategic from a market perspective, if the other company is interested and will help supporting the development and business initiatives. To this respect, the experiences with the existing integration modules can't be better. I won't mention any one in particular to avoid suggesting any preference, the name of the companies is in the datasheets, they all have been excellent partners and great support developing the existing modules.

And you? do you have additional requirements or processes when deciding to go ahead and code your integration software?

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