MFT and the AMPLIFY Platform–Blog 1: Practical Use Case

MFT and AMPLIFY platform
MFT and AMPLIFY platform

This blog showcases the value we can provide by combining our MFT and AMPLIFY platform capabilities. We will take you through all the steps necessary to work out this use case. As a use case, we will take a very common scenario that we find at many of our customers–we want to give partners the ability to send orders to the customer’s Order Management System. This is typically a process which involves a lot of steps, both for the customer and for the partner. During all the steps, multiple actions are required and miscommunication often leads to unwanted delays.

READ MORE: Get the facts about AMPLIFY MFT.

MFT and AMPLIFY platform

Leveraging the MFT and AMPLIFY platform together provides multiple advantages:

  • The number of steps to complete the entire setup is drastically reduced
  • The time to implement a complete flow is a lot shorter
  • Actions are separated per persona, there are separate administrators for the creation of the flow and for the subscription of the partners to the flow
  • MFT flows are available as easy to consume services in the Unified Catalog alongside other integration patterns
  • Business users can easily subscribe their partners to the MFT flows through the AMPLIFY platform
  • The authentication and authorization of the business users is handled by the platform

The different personas for which the blog can be very interesting are:

  • MFT Architect: to help understand the different components involved and the value they can bring
  • MFT Environment Administrator: instructions on how to set up the environment
  • Flow Administrator: instructions on how to create a flow
  • Partner Manager: how to subscribe a partner to a certain flow
  • Partner or End-user: how to send orders to the Order Management System

After reading this blog, you will not only have a better understanding around how the various capabilities fit together for a certain use case, but you will also have an easy step-by-step guide that shows you how you need to configure this from a technical perspective and how you can leverage the various personas in your organization in this process.

Illustration one: Visualization of the flow

This blog is made up out of two parts. The first part will explain how to configure the environment and the second part will explain how to implement the use case.

The prerequisites to implement this use case are:

  • Access to the AMPLIFY platform (a free trial account can be created)
  • Access to the following Axway components: CFT, FC (Flow Central), ST (SecureTransport)
  • A CentOS virtual machine with a running docker instance

Part one – Set up the environment

This part is mainly targeted towards the MFT Architect and the MFT Environment Administrator and explains the architecture of the environment and how to set up the different components.

The architecture consists of the AMPLIFY platform and a locally running Virtual Machine. The architecture diagram shows which components are used, where they are running and which version has been used.

Illustration two: High-level architecture

The different components involved in this architecture and their functions are:

  • AMPLIFY Central: one of the capabilities of the AMPLIFY Platform and used as a catalog for the MFT flows and used to manage the partners.
  • Flow Central: governance tool which allows you to create flows based on flow templates. It also publishes the flow templates to the AMPLIFY platform and deploys the flows to the different MFT components: CFT and SecureTransport.
  • CFT: A file transfer agent which receives the order file and is the component that in a production environment passes the file to the Order Management System.
  • SecureTransport: A file transfer gateway which exposes different file exchange protocols to the outside world. One of these protocols (SFTP) is used by the partner to upload the order and SecureTransport will then transfer the order to the CFT.

The next steps explain how to set up the environment. I have added some tips to some of the steps and also refer to the documentation.

Set up the AMPLIFY platform:

  1. Create an account on the AMPLIFY platform (https://platform.axway.com/)
    TIP: Instructions on how to create an account can be found in this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9hEUuDnm0g&list=PLBEEcZZeAijPBb1gBEXzdl6M_kNn8EXp0&index=16

Set up the components on the virtual machine:

  1. Create a virtual machine based on CentOS 7.
    TIP: I used CentOS 7 because it is freely available and all the components for the use case are supported in this environment. Any other supported environment can be used as well.
  2. Install Flow Central (https://github.com/Axway/docker-flowcentral)
    TIP: I updated the following parameters in the docker-compose.yml file:

    1. updated ACCEPT_EULA: “no” to ACCEPT_EULA: “yes” This is needed to accept the license agreement during the installation
    2. updated “DOSA_XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX” to “DOSA_0280c101872b489281dddecfd6de9d19” (check https://docs.axway.com/bundle/FlowCentral_10_allOS_en_HTML5/page/docker_compose_amplify_central_parameters.html for information on how to create the client id) This client id is needed for the communication between Flow Central and the AMPLIFY platform and is used by the AMPLIFY platform to link Flow Central to the correct organization in the AMPLIFY platform.
  3. Configure Flow Central:
    1. Create an administrator account (https://docs.axway.com/bundle/FlowCentral_10_allOS_en_HTML5/page/create_a_user_and_log_on.html)
    2. Upload the flow patterns from the marketplace in Flow Central (https://docs.axway.com/bundle/FlowCentral_10_allOS_en_HTML5/page/patterns.html)
  4. Install a new CFT or use an existing CFT and register it in Flow Central (https://docs.axway.com/bundle/TransferCFT_34_UsersGuide_allOS_en_HTML5/page/Content/docker/docker.htm and https://docs.axway.com/bundle/FlowCentral_10_allOS_en_HTML5/page/transfer_cft_registration.html). For this blog, we installed CFT in docker, but a classic installation works fine as well.
  5. Install SecureTransport (https://docs.axway.com/bundle/SecureTransport_54_InstallationGuide_allOS_en_HTML5/page/Content/InstallationGuide/STInstallationGuideStartPage.htm) or use an existing SecureTransport
  6. Register SecureTransport in Flow Central (https://docs.axway.com/bundle/FlowCentral_10_allOS_en_HTML5/page/securetransport_registration.html).
    TIP: I used the UI from Flow Central to register SecureTransport and I created an account called adminfc in SecureTransport that has full administrator rights.
Illustration 3: Configuration of SecureTransport in Flow Central

Part two – Implement the use case

The use case is a demonstration of how the platform can be used to easily subscribe external partners to a flow template so they can exchange files with an internal application. The tasks of each persona are described in the next paragraph.

Illustration four: Steps involved in setting up the use case
  • Flow Administrator: create a flow template in Flow Central based on a pattern and publish the flow template in AMPLIFY Central
  • Partner Manager: subscribes a partner to the flow template and deploys the flow to the different MFT components
  • Partner: receives the connection information from the partner manager and uses this information to connect to SecureTransport and transfer files

The following six steps need to be executed to configure and demonstrate the use case:

Step one – Flow Administrator – Define Flow Template (Flow Central Interface)

Create an application in CFT called “Order Management CFT”

The application represents the backend system where the order file will be delivered. One CFT can have multiple applications and each application is a business-friendly name for the partner manager.

Illustration five: Add Application
Illustration six: Fill in fields and click save

TIP: The products fields are automatically filed if CFT is correctly configured on the host mentioned in the Host field

Illustration seven: Application is created

Create a flow template in Flow Central based on pattern 0002_PARTNER_SFTP_PUSH_ST_PESIT_PUSH_CFT_APP.

The Axway Marketplace contains an extensive list of patterns and pattern 0002_PARTNER_SFTP_PUSH_ST_PESIT_PUSH_CFT_APP represents a flow whereby a partner sends a file to a SecureTransport server and the SecureTransport server transfers the file to a CFT. This pattern corresponds completely with the use case we are implementing.

Illustration eight: Add a Flow Template
Illustration nine: Enter the required information and click Save

 

Illustration 10: Flow Template created but not published

Step two – Flow Administrator – Publish Flow Template (Flow Central Interface)

In this step, the flow template which is created in Flow Central will be published and registered in the AMPLIFY platform.

Illustration 11: Publish Flow Template
Illustration 12: Choose “Default Team” and click “Yes”
Illustration 13: Flow Template successfully published

Step three – Partner Manager – Create a partner app (AMPLIFY Central Interface)

Log in to the AMPLIFY platform and go to AMPLIFY Central

Illustration 14: Log in and go to AMPLIFY Central

Check first if the flow template is correctly published to AMPLIFY Central

Illustration 15: Flow Template correctly Published

Create an application

An application is a representation of the partner and contains different profiles including an HTTP identity profile which contains the connection information that the Partner will use to connect to SecureTransport.

Illustration 16: Create Application

 

Illustration 17: Fill in required fields and click “Save”
Illustration 18: Add Authentication
Illustration 19: Create an identity profile which corresponds to the login details of the partner and fill in the required fields. Choose the password freely.

Step four – Partner Manager – Subscribe an application  to the service (AMPLIFY Central Interface)

This step is used to link the partner to the flow template. We will subscribe to an application (Partner) to a service (MFT Flow Template). During this step, AMPLIFY Central will push the configuration to Flow Central where the flow and the partner will be created. Flow Central will then push the configuration to the different MFT components. Once the deployment is successfully completed, the partner will be configured in SecureTransport and the partner will be able to send files to SecureTransport and thereby using the Flow Template defined beforehand. More information about this process can be found here: https://docs.axway.com/bundle/FlowCentral_10_allOS_en_HTML5/page/subscription_configuration_in_a_template_field.html.

Illustration 20: Go to the catalog and click on the “Partner_To_OrderManagement” service
Illustration 21: Subscribe the application to the service

 

Illustration 22: If the subscription is successful, it can be seen as Active

Step five – Partner Manager – Send Connection Details

The connection details are sent to the partner. In this blog, we assume that the Partner Manager contacts the Partner to send him the following connection details:

Step six – Partner – Send Order (FileZilla and SecureTransport Administrator Inferface)

Illustration 23: Connect to SecureTransport

TIP: The connection details can be found in Step five

Illustration 24: Transfer File, the file will be transferred to SecureTransport and SecureTransport will forward the file to CFT where the Order Management Application is hosted
Illustration 25: The SecureTransport File Tracking interface can be used to track the progress of the file transfer. This interface would mainly be used by the Flow Administrator or the MFT Environment Administrator. The transfer consists out of two entries in the File Tracking screen, the one at 11:11:54.173 is the transfer from the partner to SecureTransport and the one at 11:11:57.292 is the transfer from SecureTransport to CFT.

Conclusion

I hope this blog was helpful to understand the value a combined MFT and AMPLIFY approach can bring and how a full use case, including a complete setup of the environment and the implementation of the use case, can be worked out in a few simple steps.

Discover more about the AMPLIFY platform–it’s big, it’s here.