We now call it DWP Catalog, but you probably know it as Service Broker. Like MyIT it has been renamed. But don’t worry, it’s still the same product you know and love. Right, now that we’ve got that clarified, let’s have a look at one of the big changes: what are we to do with Integration Service?
As a seasoned DWP Catalog veteran I’m sure you’ve built your fair share of services. The meaty part of designing services is the workflow designer which offers a flexible way of describing fulfilment processes. The graphic representation of the workflow allows us to construct and visualise rather complicated processes. Among the collection of activities, tasks and links there are of course the connectors.
Connectors make it possible to interact with external systems which opens DWP beyond just ITSM and gives us greater flexibility. That’s nothing new – the connectors have been part of the product since it was first introduced. But since 18.02 we’ve made it possible to use Integration Service. Question is, what are you going to do with it?
First things first: the existing built-in connectors won’t go away, they’ll stay right where they are and they will be maintained. All your existing workflows will continue to work and there’s nothing you need to change. But it’s now also possible to use Integration Service.
Confusing? Perhaps, let me try to clarify this for you: Integration Service is not part of DWP, it’s a separate cloud-based solution which allows for integration between different platforms and applications. The service connects different applications, residing on cloud and on-premise environments. For example, you can connect ITSM to RemedyForce, SalesForce to Gmail, etc. These connections run on the platform (we call them flows), you don’t have to define them from an application perspective, meaning they’re not built into ITSM or Remedyforce, they reside on the platform. I could dedicate the whole article to Integration Service, but I’ll save that for another time. If you want to know more about what the platform has to offer read my other blog.
Besides defining connections on the platform itself, it’s also possible to use Integration Service from different BMC applications. Innovation Suite is the best-known example of this where we use the Service to connect to external (on-premise) applications. The same principle is used for DWP Catalog: we can now use connectors running on Integration Service directly from the workflow designer.
Want to know how to do this? Let’s have a look! Since Integration Service is not part of DWP, so you need to have an account for an Integration Service Instance. With DWP Advanced, customers that are either SaaS customers or on-premise customers that have the latest version installed and are current with maintenance have access to Integration Service.
Log into Integration Studio using the Integration Service URL. There are a few things we need to do here first. We use the concept of Sites, this provides the connection to a particular customer environment. Since Integration Service is cloud based it needs a way to connect to systems and applications in local (on-premise) networks. This is what a Site provides, it's the gateway to your network. If you log into Integration Studio, go to Sites and set up a Production Site:
The Controller is a client which you install on a Linux server in your local network. This sets up the secure gateway to Integration Service. It allows for outbound only traffic so customers do not need to allow for inbound egress traffic. This is a modern cloud-based approach to integration. The Get Controller option will help you to install this. Once that's done you need to configure the connectors. Integration Service offers a variety of connectors which you can use. To do this you need to configure the connector so it knows what site to use and what the server details are. To see what's available, go to Catalog and click on Connectors:
These are the connectors which you can use. Let's have a look at the Remedy ITSM Connector. Look it up in the list and check the details. You can see the Triggers and the Actions, since we're using the connector from DWP Catalog we can only use the Actions. The Triggers only work if you build a Flow directly on Integration Service, you can ignore these for now. Before we can use it we need to configure it. Click on Configuration and click on Add Connection Configuration:
This is where you tell the connectors how to connect to your Instance. You select your Site and specify the AR Server and Port. The Connector also needs to know what user account to use, you do this by adding an Account:
The credentials are validated at this point, so we know for sure everything works okay. And once that's all done, we're ready to go. That’s everything we need to do on the Integration Service side. Let’s check what’s required on the DWP side.
DWP Catalog needs to know where it can find Integration Service, that's done via a configuration option in the Application Settings menu:
You use the URL of the Integration Service instance; I'm using the developer instance for demonstration purposes. Once that is done you're ready to use the connectors in your workflow, so let's create a new Service and attach a new process. Notice the Palette on the left, there's a new Activity added called Connector. This links directly to the Integration Service Connectors, you can use multiple connectors here and link them to different Integration Service connectors.
Just to keep it simple, I'm creating a simple process which creates an Incident. I add the Connector and tell it what Integration Service connector I want it to use (Connector). The Configuration refers to the Configuration we set up in Integration Service (site, AR server, username, etc). Next I choose the Action and fill in the parameters.
And that's it! Save, publish and start using it. Obviously my example here is very basic, in a real-world scenario the process would look a lot more complex. But I hope this at least gives you an idea how to get started with this.
I know what you're thinking: that’s all very well, but why would you want to use Integration Service at all? Why not just stick to the existing connectors? The main problem with the in-process connectors is that there’s no SDK, you can’t develop your own connectors. If you need a connector for a new external application or need specific functionality, that wasn’t possible prior to 18.02. But since we use an external platform we have far greater freedom. You are free to write your own connectors and call these from DWP Catalog. Besides connecting to external systems we are also working on a SDK which will allow you to extend DWP Catalog’s integration capabilities, I'll write another blog article on this when that's available. With more people using Integration Service we’ll see more and more connectors extending the capabilities even more.
Just a few things to be aware of: Integration Service is optional to DWP Advanced customers and it’s available for both on-premise customers and DWP Advanced Cloud. It's a cloud-based platform so even if you’re using DWP on premise the API calls will flow through the cloud. In terms of security we make sure all transmissions of the data is encrypted using TLS encryption and nothing is stored during transit - the connectors are designed to be non-invasive.
And that’s all I have for now. I’d encourage you to consider using Integration Service when connecting with external applications. If you plan to write your own connectors, make sure to read my other blog article. And if you get stuck using the existing connectors in DWP Catalog? Well, you just have to let us know and we’ll do our very best to help you out. You can use the Integration Service community page, the DWP community page or raise a support case.
We'll have a more detailed look at DWP Catalog and Integration Service in a next article, so stay tuned!
Until next time,
Eager to get started? Here's how:
- For existing DWPA customers: Create a support ticket and the support team will provide access
- For Professional Services: Register at developer.bmc.com and request access to a sandbox of Integration Service and Innovation Suite
- For new customers without DWPA: Customers can get trial instance after getting approval from Product Management