1 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 1 av 19 Novacura Flow 5 Technical Overview Version 5.6 Novacura Flow is a platform produced by NovaCura AB for creating and running workflow based business applications on any device, integrated with the underlying ERP systems. A workflow is an ordered series of activities that collect data from user input and execute business logic in a back-end system. This document gives a technical overview of Novacura Flow.
2 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 2 av 19 Contents 1 Overview Components Flow Server Flow Client Flow Designer Flow Admin Communication model and requirements General Internal access only External Access not using MDM External Access using MDM software MobileIron integration Using Flow as a Service Provider Workflows as web services Workflows as integration engine...19
3 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 3 av 19 1 Overview Novacura Flow is a platform consisting of a number of components. All components are necessary to be able to use the platform. The components are: 1. Flow Designer 2. Flow Server 3. Flow Connect 4. Flow Client, including the Workflow Engine 5. Flow Service 6. Flow Admin Figure 1: The Novacura Flow 5 architecture
4 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 4 av 19 2 Components 2.1 Flow Server The Flow Server is the central component in a Flow installation, handling all transactions and available applications. Characteristics: A.NET based web service Serves mobile clients with workflows and handles communication with back-end systems such as IFS Applications, SAP or Infor M3 Workflows are stored as XML files on the server Microsoft SQL database that stores session information (in addition to administrative data as described in section 2.4) Technical Requirements: Microsoft IIS 7 or newer with ASP.NET and ASP.NET MVC4.NET Framework versions 4.5 and 4.0 Microsoft SQL Server Express/Standard/Enterprise, version 2012 or later. SQL Server Authentication must be enabled Flow Server hardware recommendations Normally, an installation on Novacura Flow is divided into two separate server environments, one for Productions and one for Test. Recommendations for these environments for a larger installation (+100 users) is described below. Production environment - Three separate (virtual) servers are recommended. - The recommended server solution does not take server redundancy into consideration. - The MS SQL Database can be hosted in a common SQL environment. PROD - Proxy Server (in case of external access) Type Minimum Recommendation Comments CPU Xeon E (6core) Memory (RAM) 16GB Disk 60GB LAN GBit
5 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 5 av 19 PROD - Appclication/Web Server Type Minimum Recommendation Comments CPU Xeon E (8core) Memory 16GB Disk 60GB LAN GBit PROD - Database Server Type Minimum Recommendation Comments CPU Xeon E Memory 16GB Disk 200GB LAN GBit DEV/TEST Environment One virtual server for development and test purposes, with the following specification is recommended. TEST Server Type Recommendation Comments CPU Memory Disk CPU: Xeon E (6core) RAM: 16GB Disk: 60GB 2.2 Flow Connect Flow Connect is the component that handles configuration and execution of the communication between Flow Server and the back-end systems. In order to do this, the component is divided into three different parts: 1. Configuration of Connector settings in Flow Admin 2. Configuration of Machine Task in the Flow Designer 3. Execution of configured Machine Tasks Configuration of Connector settings in Flow Admin Connector settings are made in Flow Admin, where one configuration per Environment can be made. Depending on connector type, different settings are possible.
6 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 6 av 19 Figure 2: Configuration of Connector settings. IFS/Database Connector (left) and Connector (right). Configuration of Machine Task in the Designer The configuration side of a Machine Task looks different depending on which connector that is used. Below two diffferent examples of connectors. Figure 3: Configuration of Machine Task with two different connectors: IFS/Database Connector (left) and Connector (right). Available connectors depend of the Flow environment, what is installed and what is configured in Flow Admin.
7 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 7 av 19 Execution of configured Machine Tasks Also execution is depending on the connector type, as different back-end systems or devices requires different type of communication. Available connectors In the current version of Novacura Flow, the following connectors are available. Connector Connector type Description Communication method Oracle DB Database Generic connector to Oracle databases MS SQL Server Database Generic Connector to Microsoft SQL Server databases IFS Applications Database Generic connector to IFS Applications database API SAP ECC ERP Connector Specific connector for SAP with graphical configuration using the BAPI tree in SAP MS Dynamics NAV ERP Connector Specific connector for NAV with graphical configuration using web services in NAV MS Dynamics CRM ERP Connector Specific connector for CRM with graphical configuration using web services in CRM IBM Maximo ERP Connector Specific connector for Maximo with graphical configuration using web services in Maximo.Net.Net Connector Generic.Net connector in which any.net developed dll can be plugged into. All public method in the dll will be configurable and executable in Flow. NiceLabel Technical Connector Specific connector for label configuration and printing using NiceLabel. MS SharePoint.Net Connector Specific connector for MS SharePoint using the.net connector as framework. MS Active Directory.Net Connector Specific connector for MS Active Directory using the.net connector as framework. Oracle Primavera.Net Connector Specific connector for Oracle Primavera using the.net connector as framework. SQL*Net OleDB SQL*Net to IFS database API (Oracle) SAP.Net Connector (RFC) HTTP HTTP HTTP Web Submit Technical Connector that can submit data to any HTTP Depending on the dll implementation File
8 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 8 av 19 Connector webpage. Filesystem GenerateText Connector for creating and modifying files in the file system. XML XmlFile Specific connector with simple configuration for creating XML based files. TCP GenerateText Connector for sending TCP output from Flow to any address. HTTP GenerateText Connector for sending HTTP output from Flow to any address. Specific connector for configuration and sending s. Remote Execution Remote Execution Connector for remote execution (i.e. on another server) of Novacura Flow workflows. File to a specified path File to a specified path TCP HTTP SMTP on defined address and port 2.3 Flow Client The Flow Client is made with a strong user focus and can adapt to virtually any environment. All mobile clients are natively built for usability, performance and offline support.
9 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 9 av 19 Figure 4: The five different Flow Clients in different versions and environments Characteristics: User interface for running workflows on mobile devices or personal computers Support for 5 different client platforms: o Android (native app) o ios (native app) o Windows (desktop application) o Windows CE (native app) o Web Communicates with Flow Server over HTTP (WLAN or 3G/GPRS/EDGE) Divided into two major categories: o Fat Clients support for both online and offline mode. ios, Android and Windows Desktop o Thin Clients support only for online mode. Web and Windows CE
10 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 10 av 19 Technical Requirements: Platform Requirements ios ios version 7 or 8 Android Android version 3.1 to 5.0 Web Windows CE Windows Desktop IE 8 or newer, Google Chrome, Firefox 5.0 or newer with.net Compact Framework 3.5 Windows 7 or Windows 8
11 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 11 av Flow Designer The Flow Designer is the tool where all Flow applications are built. Figure 5: Flow Designer creates applications from workflows. Characteristics: Windows based graphical tool for creating business applications from workflows. Modelling notation based on BPMN 2.0 but does not follow the proposed standard in every aspect. Used to design the graphical user interface on the devices and to define the integration logic to the back-end system. 9 different workflow items to create intelligent applications. 19 different User Task Elements (such as Text Input, List Selections, Header, Camera Input) to create rich user interfaces. Connecting to back-end systems and other devices (such as label printers) are made directly from Flow Designer in the designed workflow. Publishing executable workflows to Flow Server. Technical Requirements: Windows PC with.net Framework 4 At least 1.5 GHz processor At least 2 GB RAM
12 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 12 av Flow Admin Characteristics: Web based tool for administration of Environments, Systems, Users, Access Groups, Properties etc. Administrator login controlled by browser security. Technical Requirements: Client: o Web Browsers: IE 8 or newer, Google Chrome, Firefox Server Installation: o Microsoft IIS 7 or newer with ASP.NET and ASP.NET MVC4 o.net Framework versions 4.5 and 4.0 o Microsoft SQL Server Express/Standard/Enterprise, version 2012 or later. SQL Server Authentication must be enabled.
13 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 13 av 19 3 Communication model and requirements 3.1 General - Communication between the Flow Client and the Flow server is made over http or https (encrypted). - If https is to be used, a valid certificate needs to be installed on the web server. - Upon login, user receives a session-id that is stored on the client. This session is used for all future communication until the user actively logs out on the Flow Client. 3.2 Internal access only If Novacura Flow is to be used internally only (i.e. on the local network), communication requirement are as follows: 1. The Flow Clients must have http access to the Flow Server address (including the specific port that is used by the Flow Server, normally port 81). 2. The Flow Server needs access to all back-end systems and databases used by the workflows, as if the Flow Server was a client using these systems. Figure 6: Flow with internal access only
14 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 14 av External Access not using MDM If Novacura Flow should be accessible from the Internet, the following needs to be considered: 1. For security reason, communication over https is recommended. 2. The Flow Server should be placed on the local network. 3. A proxy server should be placed in the DMZ, redirecting all communication to the internal Flow Server. 4. A valid certificate needs to be installed in the proxy server if https is to be used. 5. The Flow Server needs access to all back-end systems and databases used by the workflows, as if the Flow Server was a client using these systems. Figure 7: Flow with external access 3.4 External Access using MDM software In order to leverage the security even more when accessing Novacura Flow from the Internet, MDM (Mobile Device Management) software could be used. Using MDM software gives the following advantages: 1. The Flow Client can be centrally pushed out to every client. 2. Clients can be monitored from the MDM server. 3. Secure communication over VPN can be established between the Flow Client and the Flow server (no need for a proxy server). 4. Data at rest on the clients can be secured (encrypted and prevented from being transferred between apps) and managed from the MDM server. 5. Authentication and configuration in the Flow Client can be centrally managed from the MDM server.
15 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 15 av 19 Points 1 and 2 above can be achieved without any integration with the MDM software, thus a number of MDM software could be used to achieve these advantages. To achieve points 3,4 and 5 above, an integration with the MDM software is needed. As of now, only MobileIron is supported for this. The MobileIron integration is described in chapter 4 below.
16 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 16 av 19 4 MobileIron integration Using the Flow Client for MobileIron, the app management, the app security and communication between client and server are handled as follows. Figure 8: Novacura Flow using MobileIron API Description of the MobileIron integration: 1. Relevant users are pulled from the Active Directory to the Flow Server via a scheduled job on the Flow Server. The same AD users need to exist in MobileIron in order to be able to set up single-sign-on. a. Access groups in Flow are mapped with User Groups in the AD to select which users to be synchronized. 2. App along with configuration is pushed out to the client. a. Information regarding Flow server, user authentication and security rules are made in MobileIron Core and made available from library on the client. 3. The Flow Client access to the library through the AppConnect API a. Information configured in the MobileIron Core is thereby accessible by the Flow Client and used for e.g. login to the Flow server. Security rules set in the MobileIron core will be applied on the NovaCura Flow Client. b. Data at rest on the client is secured by the MobileIron secure container,
17 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 17 av The MobileIron Sentry provides a secure AppTunnel which is used by the Flow Client a. The Flow Server is placed in the secured LAN area. b. Communication in the AppTunnel is made over http with the Flow Server. 5. The Flow Server communicates with the IFS database server within the LAN area and act as a local IFS client. Note: The MobileIron integration is currently only available with the Flow Client for ios.
18 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 18 av 19 5 Using Flow as a Service Provider Apart from being a user centric application platform, Novacura Flow can also act as a service provider, providing workflows as either web services to be used by other applications or as an integration engine where headless workflows are executed on a schedule. This is realized by using the Flow Service. Figure 9: Flow as a Service Provider, either used by an External Application or by a Workflow Executer on a schedule. 5.1 Workflows as web services This is the case when an External Application should execute a defined workflow that performs one or more actions in one or more back-end systems. In order to make this work, the following should be set up: - A workflow is designed as any other workflow, with two exceptions:
19 Title: NovaCura Flow 5 Technical Overview Sid. 19 av 19 o The workflow should not have any user interaction o The workflow could have one or more start parameters, like order number or object id. The parameter(s) is then used in the workflow execution. - The workflow is published on the Flow Sever in the appropriate workflow folder. - The External Application accesses the workflow by o Signing in to Flow with a user and a password and thereby getting a session id o Posting a http command, like - The Flow Server executes the workflow and responds either with a return value (on success) or with an error message (on failure) 5.2 Workflows as integration engine In this case one or more workflows are used as an integration engine, where e.g. data could be transferred from one system to another. In order to make this work, the following should be set up: - A workflow is designed as any other workflow, with two exceptions: o The workflow should not have any user interaction o The workflow could have one or more start parameters, like order number or object id. The parameter(s) is then used in the workflow execution. - The workflow is published on the Flow Sever in the appropriate workflow folder. - A Workflow Executer (small executable) is executed on a schedule (every 1 minute, every hour, once every day etc.) o The Workflow Executer is configured to execute a certain workflow with certain parameters, logged in as a certain user.
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