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Great (SailPoint) Work Is Out There!

Today was it. Today was the day I finally broke down and went beyond lamenting that I can’t clone myself. Today was the day I looked in the mirror and called myself a little bit of stupid and a little bit of selfish.

The Problem I Wish Everyone Had

They always say start by defining the problem.

There are problems and then there are problems. Real problems are bad. Other problems are actually good to have. I’m happy to say I confront the latter almost every day and I’d really like to share these problems with you. More on that later where you can be part of the solution to a lot of open problems I know about, if you want.

But let’s face it… we all know it. Security is hot right now. And if you’ve done a good job in security and are somewhat known, it’s nuclear. My problem is I get lots of fantastic opportunities come my way every day. I think about a lot of you out there. I get some really, really nice opportunities. And I lament I can’t respond to them all.

Me At Vormetric

I’m doing well at Vormetric and Vormetric is doing extremely well in the market place. Vormetric is posed on the edge of what I believe is a radical change in how enterprises go about Data Security and Encryption.

Vormetric does what it does extremely well; better than anyone else in the market place. So I’m set. I love what I do and more importantly what I can do for other people. Vormetric fills an important void. (And believe it or not, Data Security and Encryption has a direct tie-in to how enterprises should approach Identity Management that I had never considered before and a lot of companies still aren’t considering — it’s the “bottom third” that Identity Management can’t touch. More on that in another post.)

Those are the things that really drive me at core… what I can do to legitimately help other people in the mission-critical security space. Which dovetails right in line with the theme of this posting. If you are interested, keep reading.
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SailPoint IIQ: Rule Modeling in Real Java :-)

I’ve been sitting on this article and concept for months and have had others ask me about it via email — whether I’ve ever done something like this before — and well… here it is.

Tired of No BeanShell Coding Validation!

It turns out I was sitting around in my hotel room in Bangalore on India Independence Day last year, whacking away on some client code, doing some data modeling using CSV. I had a somewhat involved BuildMap rule I was working on and I was getting a null pointer exception I simply could not find. A few hours and one simple coding mistake later, once discovered, I was finally on my way. But it was really discouraging to know that if I had been coding in Eclipse, the coding mistake would have been spotted immediately.

The next thought I had was actually two-fold. While I have at times actually written test straps in real Java using the Sailpoint IIQ Java libraries (ie. jars) and dropped my BeanShell code into procedures to instantly validate the syntax, I have also wanted at some point in time to be able to simulate or partially simulate rule modeling and data modeling outside of Sailpoint IIQ using Java I had complete control over writing and executing.

So on this particular day, being particularly irked, I decided to combine those two wishes and see what I could do about having a place I could not only drop, for instance, BuildMap rule code into Eclipse and instantly validate it, but also execute the code I intended for Sailpoint IIQ against connector sources I also had connected to Sailpoint IIQ (in development, of course!) and see and manipulate the results.

Once I was done iterating my development over a real dataset, I could take my validated Java code, drop it back into Sailpoint IIQ in BeanShell and have not only validated but also working code in Sailpoint IIQ with very little or no modification.

Establishing SailPoint Context

One thing you will need if you want to run your Java code in an actual Sailpoint IIQ context outside of Sailpoint IIQ proper is establishing SailPointContext in your code. This, I will tell you, while not impossible, is not easy to do. You need to implement the Spring Framework and a lot of other stuff. If you are interested in doing this and have access to SailPoint Compass, you can actually read about establishing SailPointContext here4.

Since doing that much work wasn’t something I had the time for doing, almost immediately I decided to implement a partial simulation that would allow me to (1) model and validate my rule and (2) also allow me to model my data very simply and easily without establishing SailPointContext. I could still achieve my goal of iterating the solution to produce validated and working code to drop back into Sailpoint IIQ in this way.

The Code

Amazingly, the code for simulating a BuildMap rule, pointing it to the actual CSV I intend for Sailpoint IIQ, and simulating an account aggregation task is not that complex. Once you have the code, if you understand how Sailpoint IIQ works in general, you could conceivably re-engineer and simulate other segments of Sailpoint IIQ processing or modeling other rule types and.or data outside of Sailpoint IIQ1.
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Stupid SailPoint Developer Tricks

Hello, mates — as they say Down Under, where I happen to be at the moment on a rather large Sailpoint engagement. It’s been a while, and I’m sorry for that. I keep promising more, new and better content and haven’t delivered.

The last couple of months however have been absolutely crazy and there have been some changes on my end, as you perhaps can see. Now that things have shaped up a bit, maybe I can get back to the business at hand here on the blog, again as I have time.

Stupid Pet Tricks

When I was growing up and in college, a famous comedian became famous (partially) by having a segment on his show called “Stupid Pet Tricks.” Some were hilarious and some… belonged on the 1980’s “Gong Show.” (If you’ve never heard of “The Gong Show,” trust me, you aren’t missing anything).

Since that time, I’ve always thought of various developer tricks in the same light. Some are quite slick and useful and some… really just need to be buried. I’ll leave it to you to decide on this one.

Out of sheer laziness, while onboarding Sailpoint applications that feature a BuildMap rule (eg. BuildMap, JDBCBuildMap, and SAPBuildMap), I sometimes utilize a method for “printing debug statements” that I can see directly and immediately in connectorDebug, without having to jump into or tail the Sailpoint IIQ log or application server logs.

It’s also just a bit less verbose as the Sailpoint IIQ logs typically have a large class identification prefix in front of them, which can get rather cumbersome and make it more difficult to pick out one’s intended debug output.

Plus I hate changing logging levels in log4j.properties even though the Sailpoint IIQ debug page allows me to load a new logging configuration dynamically. In short, I’m just a lazy, complaining type when it comes to Sailpoint IIQ debug statements.

Someone mentioned this would be worth blogging about, so here goes. (At the very least, this is an easy article to write and perhaps will get me back into the blogging swing?!)

__DEBUG__ Schema

Now, I would definitely recommend doing this only on a local or designated sandbox and then making sure you clean up before checking in your code. (You are using some form of source code control for your Sailpoint IIQ development, aren’t you?!)
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SailPoint IIQ: Aggregating XML

From an answer to a client this morning on aggregating XML in Sailpoint IIQ. I hope this helps others out there:

Regarding your question this morning on aggregating XML… I have seen XML aggregated through the OOTB RuleBasedFileParser connector. That connector requires that a rule be written to run the parser and through that, you could parse and aggregate XML. I mentioned this to one of our Solution Architects after our meeting and he was aware of the RuleBasedFileParser type, but personally felt it was enough work such that you may as well write a custom connector using libraries Java has available to handle XML.

I think between him and me, I would say the following:

(1) From an overall perspective, it’s technically possible using the RuleBasedFileParser connector to aggregate XML.

(2) There may need to be a discussion about the XML in consideration itself to determine the level of complexity of XML coming in, in which case:
(a)…The RuleBasedFileParser may be an adequate choice.
(b)…A custom connector for the XML may be in order.

One other approach could be:

(i) Use a DelimitedFile connector.
(ii) Write a pre-iterate rule leveraging the Java XML classes available to (a) read the XML and (b) create a CSV from the XML for the DelimitedFile connector to consume.
(iii) Use the post-iterate rule to clean up.

As you can see, there is more than one way to skin the XML cat here. This is the case as with most things in Sailpoint IIQ, as I demonstrate in at least one blog post, can be “tricked” in various places into doing what it is you ultimately want it to do.

As with any of this, it’s very common to have to sit down on an engagement and triage between a number of approach options to decide on the best implementation approach. I hope this information helps you with that process.

From the Twin Cities, where we shrug off the second day of Spring with a second helping of Winter, Amigos…

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SailPoint IIQ: Rule And Settings Overrides

January 18th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in IAM Development, Vendor Specific

One of the primary reasons I write here is to clear up any minor points of confusion with our highly valued Qubera clients, and to enhance their understanding of products we have installed for them just a little better. Especially if I field similar questions across client engagements (eg. “Why does ‘it’ work that way?”), then I make a point to try and blog about those here.

What I want to point out today may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but this topic has come up a number of times with Sailpoint IIQ and I wanted to clarify it a bit more for some of you out there. This is a concept that I call “rule and settings overrides.”

Rule And Settings Overrides

You know the feeling you get when you jump into a fully loaded sports car at the dealership… all the buttons and knobs and dials. The “radio” does a million things by itself and then there’s on-board navigation/GPS, On-Star, rear camera, collision detection, choice of manual or automatic in the same transmission… it gets to be a bit overwhelming. “What do all these knobs and buttons DO?!” you think?! I would equate initially running Sailpoint IIQ and just about any feature-rich identity management product to be about like that.

It turns out with Sailpoint IIQ specifically, there are a number of places where if you turn on or flip or fill-in settings in one place, those settings can actually override options you have set (or thought you had set!) in another place. This can be confusing and may even lead to initial negative impressions of the product.

But with Sailpoint IIQ that’s far from being the reality. The designers of Sailpoint IIQ actually took a very straight forward approach in determining the “rules” around product features, and it’s really quite logical (and powerful) once you gain command of the product over time. No one blames the maker of an upscale sports car for its complexity, rather they embrace it and learn to leverage all the features over time. After all, that was the reason for selecting a sports car in the first place. :-)

Rules ARE Overrides

Rules are very easy to help level set in your understanding here. The thing to remember with rules, pretty much across the board with Sailpoint IIQ is this: Rules ARE overrides. I talked about this somewhat by going in depth with BuildMap rules here.

During aggregations, Sailpoint IIQ goes through a number of phases. (I discussed those phases somewhat at the link above.) At various points during those phases, the designers of Sailpoint IIQ provide you with the opportunity to step in and write your own custom logic to handle your enterprise business and technical use cases. That means that rules ARE overrides.

If you write a rule of any type anywhere in the product, then you are overriding Sailpoint IIQ‘s default, OOTB logic for that aspect of the product (eg. aggregations, certifications, identity attribute mappings, emails, etc.). And again, Sailpoint IIQ completely takes its hands off during processing of these customization rules, and provides you with full control at that point. All it does is:

(1) Provide you with objects very likely needed for your customization logic. These are the parameters you see when building Sailpoint IIQ rules.

(2) It expects a certain kind or kinds of acceptable return values.

That’s it. Whatever you do in between is up to you. (Needless to say, you can impact performance quite a lot by the type of logic you may choose to employ in any rule, so choose your logic wisely. If you are experiencing performance issues, especially surrounding certain areas of functionality, such as aggregations or certifications, this would be one place to check — check your rules.)

So in short, rules ARE overrides.1 It only makes sense.
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SailPoint IIQ: Best Practice – Native Change Detection

December 13th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in IAM Development, Vendor Specific

This should be a short post. What I want to offer is longer than what I can fit into a tweet (@IdMConsultant), but pretty simple to state. (But since I’m blogging, I will expand slightly… :-))

Background

For the new Native Change Detection feature in Sailpoint IIQ v6.0, Sailpoint warns, NCD needs to be turned on after your first aggregation. Obviously, if NCD is turned on before this, all your “changes” on your first aggregation are going to kick off a lot of needless workflows (at best) and could result in some possibly serious consequences in terms of changes made downstream (at worst, depending on how you’ve customized the resulting LCE workflow, especially if you’ve elected a heavy-handed approach to NCD).

Native Change Detection Best Practice

I would further this recommendation and state, as a Best Practice, don’t turn on NCD until after the aggregations for an application have “matured.” That is, you’ve worked through all the kinks that typically come in a production aggregation scenario. Almost always, there is something “forgotten” in an initial aggregation or even the first two or three aggregations. A transformation rule has to be written… You forgot an attribute… Your app owner and you decide another attribute needs to be added to the application… You forget to mark an entitlement… You don’t realize immediately you aren’t getting all expected data… etc.

(You can “mature” or solidify your application aggregations in one of two ways or a combination of both:

(1) Work out your aggregation details in lower environments. Attributes and schemas here should match what you plan to place into production. But since your data isn’t always the same in your lower environments as in production, you should also…

(2) Allow for a number of aggregations in Production with production data. I would recommend at least 2-3 validated aggregations with Production data to solidify expectations.)

Native Change Detection is a powerful new feature of Sailpoint IIQ that is quickly positioning Sailpoint IIQ as THE authoritative governance application in the enterprise (NCD as well as other new features of Sailpoint IIQ v6.0). So to recap:

Recap

(1) Don’t turn on Native Change Detection until aggregations for an application have matured or been solidified.

(2) Turn on Native Change Detection only one application at a time!! Plan your usage of NCD, and either turn NCD on one application at a time or in small groups of related applications (eg. Active Directory and Exchange). I really recommend one application at a time. If you don’t take this #2 approach, I promise you… you are asking for trouble! :-)

(3) I would even go so far as to recommend enabling one NCD function (eg. create, modify, or delete) at a time. At least in your earliest uses of NCD. So one function per one application at a time.

Plan. Map. Forecast. Test. Execute. Mitigate. Don’t “willy nilly” with this. :-)

Rising above 15″ of snow in the Twin Cities and wishing you the best with this fantastic new feature of Sailpoint IIQ!

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@IdMConsultant for IdM Related Tweets

December 2nd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in General Idm/IAM, IAM Development, IT Industry, Security

I’ve been wanting for a while to create a dedicated channel on Twitter for tweeting content specific to Identity & Access Management. As of now, I’ll be doing exactly that via a new @IdMConsultant Twitter account. (Totally shocked that that Twitter account was actually available!)

So look for short, I-hope-to-be-handy tweets on the various IdM products we implement, support and provide expert advisory services on through Qubera Solutions. Expect tweets such as Implementing Full Text Search for #SailPoint #IIQ6? Don’t forget to copy the resulting index files across your server farm! Qubera Solutions is IdM/IAM vendor agnostic — we advise and implement solutions that fit your specific needs and requirements, so expect tweets that are vendor agnostic as well, but narrowed to just IdM/IAM.

(Traffic on my older and still existing @TechnologEase Twitter account will carry more general content relating to technology in general and what TechnologEase exists for which is Internet Consulting. Done Right.)

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SailPoint IIQ: BuildMap – I Told You So :-)

Okay, here’s an article I wasn’t planning on posting, but based on some feedback I received privately via email, I thought I would throw this one example out there. Sometimes the simplest and unlikeliest of examples can tell you a whole lot about the plumbing of a product such as Sailpoint IIQ. Concerning my most recent post on SailPoint IIQ Build Map rules, this next exercise I think will fit the bill of being quite revealing even though simple and extremely unlikely to mirror real world.

I Told You So :-)

In my last post, I indicated that Build Map rules (as well as other rule hooks in Sailpoint IIQ) do not care what you are doing inside them, in general. In the case of the Build Map rule, I stated that Sailpoint IIQ does not do a single thing to validate your code. It does not validate it against your application schema; it’s trusting you 100% to wire your build map rule to your schema in the right way — 100%. The only thing Sailpoint IIQ does do is map fields from your build map into a resource object (later in aggregation processing) that matches the schema, which is a short way of saying…

(1) If you don’t provide a field from your return map that matches the application schema, that field in the schema will be blank (or null), and…

(2) If you provide a field from your return map that does NOT match the application schema, that field in the build map will be dropped.

That’s it. The rest is up to you and here’s a very small example that in my mind pretty much demonstrates everything about how build map rules work.

Setting This Up

Let’s set this up. Try this in your development sandbox. First, create a plain text file that has nothing in it but one number per line — lines numbered from say 1 to 25. Nothing else. This is easy to setup on the Linux command line. (For you Windows peeps, I’m sorry to say it may be just as easy to jump into NotePad and bang out 25 lines by hand! :-( :-))

$ perl -e 'for (1..25) { print "$_\n" }' > dummy25.txt

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SailPoint IIQ: The BuildMap Rule Revisited

Well, I’m behind on posting again. Apologies to those following here who I know were looking forward to this particular post which I promised in person to a number of you.

Build Map Rules in Aggregations

The BuildMap Rule… Just what is a “build map rule” exactly? Maybe you’ve used or even written one, but you admit you still really don’t understand what it’s actually doing or how it really works in the case of account aggregations. I actually get that kind of comment all the time, so don’t feel bad. Let’s crack ‘er open and see if we can crystalize the concept of how this actually works. Once the concept is crystal clear, you’ll know exactly when to use it, and your usage of it will be that much more sophisticated and precise.

Hang On… What Is A Map, First Of All?!

Before we get into what a build map rule is, we first need to cover the concept of a “map” to begin. Again, this is a comment I often get as I am on site implementing Sailpoint IIQ for the first time in enterprises — “what is a map?”

Sailpoint IIQ is built using JEE technology. Therefore, it draws from many paradigms within that reference technology platform. A Map object in Java, or just a “map,” is essentially an indexed name/value pair system. Focusing on strings as the map implementation (it’s possible to have other map types in Java, but we’ll forgo that discussion here), a very stripped down version of a map is something like you might find in a configuration or initializer file of some sort:

name=Chris Olive
address=123 Somewhere St.
city=St. Paul
state=MN
zip=55102

This is also known as a key/value pairing because the name on the left hand side can only occur once. If you are familiar with other programming languages, a Java Map is roughly equivalent to what is called a hash in Perl and Ruby, a dictionary in the older Microsoft development parlances (VBScript, etc.), or a dictionary in Javascript (though popularization of Javascript and it’s object orient model extends this scheme into JSON objects, which again we will forgo delving into in depth in this discussion.)

Here are the equivalent “maps” in some of the languages I’ve mentioned above. If you are familiar with all or any of these, then you know what a Java Map (object) is:

Perl:

my $map = {
   name    => 'Chris Olive',
   address => '123 Somewhere St.',
   city    => 'St. Paul',
   state   => 'MN',
   zip     => '55102'
};

Ruby:

map = {
   :name    => 'Chris Olive', \
   :address => '123 Somewhere St.', \
   :city    => 'St. Paul', \
   :state   => 'MN', \
   :zip     => '55102' \
}

Javascript/JSON:

map = {
   "name"    : "Chris Olive",
   "address" : "123 Somewhere St.",
   "city"    : "St. Paul",
   "state"   : "MN",
   "zip"     : "55102"
};

Java (BeanShell):

// Unfortunately, Java doesn't offer a shortcut way of initializing
// a HashMap. I'll just not comment on that here. :-)
//
// Since Java 5, real Java wants these sorts of things "typed" as
// well.  We'll forgo that and do this BeanShell style as per IIQ.
// BeanShell doesn't require type syntax.

import java.utils.HashMap; // Not required in BeanShell
   :
   :
HashMap map = new HashMap();
map.add( "name", "Chris Olive" );
map.add( "address", "123 Somewhere St." );
map.add( "city", "St. Paul" );
map.add( "state", "MN" );
map.add( "zip", "55102" );

Now, that last example looks somewhat familiar if you’d done any writing (or plagiarizing :-)) of Sailpoint IIQ build map rules already. (Funny how in literary circles, plagiarism is very much frowned upon, whereas in IT, it’s very much encouraged, isn’t it?! :-))

So while we’re here, let me just say that the variable name “map” carries no special significance. People tend to name their variables in simple scenarios according to what they are and the variable name could just has easily been “foo” or “frank” — it’s doesn’t matter (other than when you program that way, things get a little unclear fairly quickly.)

So this would do just as well:

HashMap me = new HashMap();
me.add( "name", "Chris Olive" );
me.add( "address", "123 Somewhere St." );
me.add( "city", "St. Paul" );
me.add( "state", "MN" );
me.add( "zip", "55102" );

IIQ Uses Maps EVERYWHERE

So now that you (hopefully) know what a “map” is, then maybe at least the name has suddenly taken on more significance. “Build Map” means… a Java Map object instance (or just a map) is going to be built. “Why” will be explained in just a moment.

The main thing to emphasize here is… Sailpoint IIQ uses maps literally EVERYWHERE. So just get used to it. And that being said, I can’t think of a concept in Sailpoint IIQ that you need to make sure is rock solid any more than the concept of a map. Again, Sailpoint IIQ uses them literally EVERYWHERE.
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SailPoint IIQ: Get Your JavaDocs

November 1st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in IAM Development, Object-Oriented Development

Interestingly, I was on a call this morning with a lot of really smart people, and I was surprised to learn some of them didn’t know that Java documentation on all the internal Sailpoint IIQ Java objects comes bundled with every install of IIQ. All ya gotta do is set a bookmark to a static URL after a Sailpoint IIQ install, and you are good to go.

This means, if you have multiple IIQ versions installed (as I do), then you can get the JavaDocs specific to each one of them with a URL for each version. They are all located at the same URL for each install:

http://your-hostname-here:8080/identityiq/doc/javadoc

If you just happen to have Sailpoint IIQ installed on the same machine you are reading this post on, click here and you should see them. Otherwise, adjust the URL above accordingly if you are reverse proxying your Sailpoint IIQ install or used a different context root for IIQ or what have you.

If you are doing any customization at all of your Sailpoint IIQ installation — be it in Java itself or in BeanShell — this URL will be indispensable for you. Set ‘er up and have fun reading JavaDocs to your children at bed time!

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