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Dunstan Thomas Consulting Cloud services deployment of Sparx Enterprise Architect for ATOC


Dunstan Thomas Consulting (DTC) worked with ATOC to install and configure Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect to enable them to work in a collaborative environment using a MySQL hosted model repository.

This model repository was located on a server within the ATOC premises and accessed via LAN and ODBC and remotely via a VPN.

During this engagement, Dunstan Thomas Consulting not only worked with ATOC but also ensured that they had gained the skills necessary to perform all repository administration tasks (such as creating new Groups and Users) by themselves.

They made a strategic decision to move all servers to the cloud and dispense with VPN connections for remote working.

ATOC contacted Dunstan Thomas Consulting to work with them to perform a migration of their existing Enterprise Architect infrastructure to the cloud.

Background


ATOC are relative newcomers to Enterprise Architect and have been using the tool to model, primarily, business processes using BPMN 2.0.

ATOC have a number of modelling teams allocated to specific groups and have a number of floating licenses. Dunstan Thomas Consulting worked with them to create a collaborative modelling environment using a shared model repository hosted using MySQL, together with a repository structure and the necessary Groups and Users which were authenticated using Windows Authentication.

The initial modelling infrastructure was as illustrated below:



While this infrastructure was very successful, ATOC made a strategic decision to move all servers to the Cloud, thus allowing access via HTTP or HTTPS protocols from any location. After some trials, they decided upon using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the cloud hosting platform.

ATOC contacted Dunstan Thomas Consulting to provide consultancy services to:

  1. Install and configure an AWS hosted MySQL repository suitable for use as an Enterprise Architect repository.
  2. Install and configure Sparx Cloud services to use HTTPS protocol for connection to this AWS hosted MySQL repository.
  3. Install and configure secure access to Enterprise Architect floating licenses also hosted on AWS cloud.
  4. Create a set of Groups and Users for the AWS hosted MySQL repository, ideally using Windows Authentication.
  5. Migrate the existing model repository from the ATOC hosted MySQL database to the AWS hosted MySQL repository.

This new infrastructure is illustrated below:

Challenge


In January 2016, Dunstan Thomas Consulting worked with ATOC to perform the installation, configuration and migration of their model repository.

ATOC had already created the necessary server images on AWS for the MySQL database and a Windows Virtual Machine for hosting the Sparx Cloud Services and floating licenses.

The challenges posed by this installation and configuration were:

  1. Creation of the database structure on MySQL.
  2. Configuring the Sparx Systems Web Services.
  3. Creation of a certificate for HTTPS protocol connections.
  4. Testing the connection.
  5. Allowing access to the AWS hosted Sparx Systems Web Services via specific TCP ports.
  6. Providing an alternative to Windows Authentication since the ATOC active directories cannot be migrated to AWS.
  7. Ensuring access to the AWS hosted floating licenses were protected from unauthorised access.
  8. Performing the migration of the existing ATOC model repository to the new AWS hosted model repository.

Why ATOC chose to use Enterprise Architect and Dunstan Thomas

“For many years here at ATOC we had been using a number of modelling tools. The office was comprised of a mish-mash of modelling tools raging from Microsoft Visio to Rational System Architect this often resulted in interoperability issues and a lack of standards across the enterprise. As the Lead Data Architect I was given the task of procuring a new modelling tool which was affordable and fit for purpose across the ATOC enterprise. After tediously trawling through a labyrinth of Modelling tools it was decided that Sparx’ Enterprise Architect (EA) was the best tool that would meet ATOC’s needs and after a further careful selection Dunstan Thomas was chosen to carry out the installation and customisation.

DT showed professionalism and very importantly grasped and understood ATOC’s business needs. DT have provided ATOC with both the skills and expertise to productively use and administer EA over the last year. It was therefore a given that when I was asked to move our entire EA infrastructure into the Cloud I selected DT for the job a decision that once again proved to be the right one. The entire EA infrastructure was successfully moved into the Cloud on time and on budget.”


Al-Rasheed Amzart
Enterprise Data Architect, ATOC

Solution


Creation of the database structure on MySQL

This was a simple matter of executing the SQL script as provided by Sparx Systems. Only a single user (with DBA privileges) needs to be created, since all access to the MySQL database is via the Sparx Systems Cloud Services.

Configuring the Sparx Systems Web Services

The installation of the Sparx Systems web services presented no issues. ATOC decided on using the default settings for the Cloud Services including the use of the default ports for Cloud Services administration, HTTP and HTTPS protocols.

Using the Cloud Services administration tool, DTC created an ODBC connection to the MySQL database.

Creation of a certificate for HTTPS protocol connections

This wasn’t complicated, as a batch file is provided by Sparx Systems for the creation of a Self-signed certificate using OpenSSL. This did require downloading an openssl config file which again presented no issues.

Testing the Connection

In order to test the connection to the AWS hosted MySQL model repository, it was necessary to create a minimal structure. DTC performed this task by using the Model Transfer functionality within Enterprise Architect to transfer a local repository consisting of just a single Model Root to the AWS hosted MySQL model repository. This was achieved without encountering any issues.

Once transferred a connection was made between Enterprise Architect and the AWS hosted MySQL model repository using both HTTP and HTTPS protocols. This worked perfectly.

Allowing access to the AWS hosted Sparx Systems Web Services via specif ic TCP ports

Since access via TCP ports is usually blocked by default by the Windows Firewall, DTC created the necessary inbound and outbound rules to allow traffic through the TCP ports for HTTP and HTTPS access as specified in the Cloud Services configuration file.

Providing an alternative to Windows Authentication since ATOC active directories cannot be migrated to AWS

Authentication on the ATOC hosted MySQL model repository was performed using Windows Authentication and active directory. However, this cannot be migrated to AWS, so another method of authenticating the connection to the AWS hosted MySQL had to be found.

There is only one viable option, namely that each user has their own user id and password. ATOC found this solution perfectly acceptable, and were able to create the necessary groups, users, passwords and permissions using skills learned during the first consultancy engagement with Dunstan Thomas Consulting.

Ensuring access to the AWS hosted f loating licenses were protected from unauthorised access

Initially the solution was to install the Sparx Licence keystore manager on the same Windows Virtual machine as the Sparx Systems cloud services.

This was performed without any issues, and included modifying the Keystore services configuration to request a password for access to the keystore. However upon testing it was discovered that the Enterprise Architect client was not able to connect to the Keystore Service running on the AWS hosted virtual machine.

Several attempts at finding a solution were tried:

  1. Creating inbound and outbound rules on the Windows firewall to allow access to the port required by the Keystore service.
  2. Configuring the AWS security group settings to allow access to this port.
  3. Removing the request for the password to access the keystore.

Unfortunately all attempts at finding a solution failed.

Dunstan Thomas Consulting then discovered that ATOC made use of Microsoft Cloud Based SharePoint functionality, and proposed a solution to host the Sparx Systems floating licences on the Microsoft Cloud Based SharePoint.

This was performed, tested and ATOC were delighted to see that this solution worked perfectly. Furthermore, since only their staff had access to the Microsoft Cloud Based SharePoint location, access to the Enterprise Architect floating licences was provided automatically without the need for a user to supply a password.

Performing the migration of the existing ATOC model repository to the new AWS hosted model repository

As the ATOC model repository is reasonably large, Dunstan Thomas Consulting proposed that only a single section be migrated to the AWS hosted MySQL model repository. This could then be tested and once agreed that all was working successfully, the remainder of the model repository could be transferred.

Initially, Dunstan Thomas Consulting performed this using the Model Transfer functionality within Enterprise Architect, and whilst successful, it took a very long time to complete.

Once transferred successfully, ATOC with the guidance of DTC created a Group, Privileges and Users on the AWS hosted MySQL model repository. Concurrent access to the AWS hosted MySQL model repository was then tested and this test was successful.

ATOC then undertook the transfer of the remaining sections of the model repository to the AWS hosted MySQL model repository themselves, and discovered that a more timely and reliable method of migration was to use export and import via XML files. ATOC then created the remaining Groups and Users.

This was achieved on time prior to the AWS hosted MySQL model repository going live.

Results


“ATOC’s main purpose for moving its EA infrastructure into the Cloud was twofold. Firstly floor space is at a premium and there was a need to decommission one of our primary in-house server rooms and all its contents in order to free up valuable space. And secondly a number of applications and file sharing resources have already been moved into the cloud. This move meant that key EA resources could be accessed directly over the internet and security would be provided by ATOC’s Active Directory and local client security would be provided within Enterprise Architect. Using AWS meant that we could scale our EA database in a more dynamic way.

Users have also found that when using EA across AWS it is much faster and more stable than previously. This ease of use has helped to increase and improve productivity and these improvements have all been realised within weeks of having EA installed within AWS.”


Al-Rasheed Amzart
Enterprise Data Architect, ATOC

Summary


With Dunstan Thomas Consulting’s help and experience ATOC migrated their existing model repository and floating licences to the cloud, on time and without any major issues.

At a Glance


  • ATOC took the strategic decision to move all servers to the cloud and required Dunstan Thomas Consulting to provide help and expertise to enable this to happen.
  • The Enterprise Architect model repository was hosted successfully using AWS and MySQL.
  • The Enterprise Architect cloud services was hosted successfully using AWS and a virtual machine running Windows server.
  • The Enterprise Architect floating licenses could not be hosted on AWS, but were hosted successfully using Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint.
  • The migration of the existing repository was successful, but very time consuming. The most reliable means of migration was using export and import using XML files.

You can download a copy of this case study here.

Published in Case Studies

In this third instalment of exploring EA through video Phil is looking at Creating a Repository:

 

 

https://youtu.be/7SC9-UCVYFc

If you can't wait to view all of our videos from this series please visit our YouTube channel ... and don't forget to subscribe!

Published in Tutorials

BPMN GeneratorBPMN Generator

An add-in for Enterprise Architect from Dunstan Thomas Consulting

We have had our very own Phil Chudley busy beavering away at a new project which is now commercially available & already in use with DT's customer base.

Overview

Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect has the functionality to create diagrams directly from Use Case textual scenarios, the most common of which is termed an Activity Graph. This Activity Graph is a simplified form of UML Activity Diagram. This works well, but many organisations have, or are in the process of, standardising the modelling of process flows using BPMN 2.0, and this form of diagram is not supported by Enterprise Architect. The BPMN Generator extension for Enterprise Architect has been developed by Dunstan Thomas Consulting Ltd to provide the functionality to generate a BPMN 2.0 process flow diagram from Use Case textual scenarios. A typical example is shown below:

Textual Scenario for the Basic Path

BPMN Generator - basic path  

Textual Scenario for the Alternate Path

BPMN Generator - alternate path  

Generated BPMN 2.0 Diagram

BPMN Generator - generated diagram


The BPMN Generator also provides the modeller with options to set:

  • The top margin of the generated diagram.
  • The left margin of the generated diagram.
  • The default height of each task.
  • The adjustment height of each task (used to ensure that text fits in a task).
  • Whether or not a new diagram and elements will be generated rather than overwrite any existing diagram and elements.

Watch the video below to see the BPMN Generator in action:

https://youtu.be/WhL9vEdvHF0 


The BPMN Generator is available from Dunstan Thomas Consulting at £85.00 +Vat per licence. If you would like additional information or to purchase licences for the BPMN Generator then please contact us.

Published in News

Dunstan Thomas Consulting - Sparx Systems Authorised Training PartnerNew training course from Dunstan Thomas Consulting

Course design by Phil Chudley

Who Should Attend?

This course is suitable to anyone who models ArcGIS Geodatabases and wishes to create both a visual representation of the ArcGIS Geodatabase and an XML ArcGIS workspace file for input to other tools such as ArcCatalog.

What will I learn?

Upon completion of the course you will have learned the following:

  • How Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect supports ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling
  • How to configure Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect for ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling
  • How to structure a model repository for efficient ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling using libraries of re-usable elements
  • The practical skills of creating and maintaining ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling via a worked example
  • Productivity tips and tricks when using Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect
  • How to validate an ArcGIS Geodatabase Model
  • How to import and export a ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling via XML
  • How to import a ArcGIS Geodatabase Model created in Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect into ArcCatalog

Course Content

  • Overview of Enterprise Architect and its support for ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling
    • Practical – Configuring Enterprise Architect for ArcGIS Geodatabase modelling
  • Development of an example:
    • Design;
    • Practical use of Enterprise Architect to create an ArcGIS Geodatabase model
    • Productivity Aids when use Enterprise Architect
    • Capturing ArcGIS data within Enterprise Architect using ArcGIS tagged values
    • Dealing with relationships
  • Validation
    • Validating the model using the ArcGIS validation script
  • Implementation
    • Exporting the model to ArcGIS Workspace XML
    • Importing to the ArcGIS workspace XML to ArcCatlaog

Pre-requisites

It is assumed that all attendees for this course will be familiar with the ArcGIS Geodatabase Meta-Model. Previous knowledge of Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect is desirable but not essential.

If you would like to know more about our training & consulting services then please visit our website or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in News

Dunstan Thomas Consulting Waitrose 

Executive Summary

Dunstan Thomas Consulting (DTC) worked with the Waitrose IT Strategy & Architecture team to understand how to get maximum value from using Sparx Enterprise Architect (EA). The team wanted to explore the capabilities of the tool to optimise its existing investment in EA skills and software


Background

Waitrose IT has used Sparx Enterprise Architect since 2008 for UML modelling as part of the Partnership Systems Development Methodology (PSDM). This methodology is used across the John Lewis Partnership as part of the development lifecycle. In December 2013 the Waitrose IT Strategy & Architecture team started to investigate how to extend the existing use of EA from an analysis and development tool to an enterprise architecture tool. The IT Strategy & Architecture team was starting to work collaboratively across the business areas so they needed to be able to capture more stakeholder views to represent the enterprise architecture landscape. An Architecture Methods and Tools group was responsible for setting up how the IT Strategy & Architecture team worked with other teams and for setting up the architectural governance mechanisms.


Challenge

Wider use of EA comes at a time when the Waitrose IT Strategy & Architecture team is growing in size and forging closer links with the rest of Waitrose. A demand for greater transparency also puts the onus on EA to help visualise some key high level elements which are crucial for business and IT planning, helping to illustrate: ‘What is our vision and objectives?’ and ‘Why are we doing this?’ Waitrose wanted to map the motivation, business, application, technology and implementation landscapes using ArchiMate notation in EA.

ArchiMate is a standard modelling notation to describe enterprise architectures. It presents a clear set of concepts within (and relationships between) architecture domains, and offers a simple and uniform structure for describing the contents of these domains. The team identified a few missing key elements from ArchiMate that they wanted to be included in the Waitrose metamodel. The team wanted to be able to model new elements, such as ‘Capabilities’, and to enhance existing elements, such as ‘Application Interface’, to display more information.

As Iain Plank, Enterprise Architect explained:
“The IT landscape within large organisations has generally become way too complex. It really is crucial to rationalise and centralise expertise pools as much as possible. If this work is not done, you end up with lots of systems with over-lapping capabilities. IT silos waste resources and prevent systems talking to each other which invariably generates more inefficiencies. We need to plan holistic IT systems to avoid these inefficiencies. Modelling our understanding of the enterprise is part of the solution.”


Solution: Enterprise Architect Super User & Reporting Training

Waitrose contacted Dunstan Thomas Consulting (DTC), the EA training specialists to investigate Sparx Enterprise Architect’s potential capabilities. Dunstan Thomas provided training on EA with a specific focus on enabling Waitrose to extend ArchiMate and to create the new elements required by Waitrose. In discussion with Waitrose, DTC designed a specific two day course for five Waitrose analysts based on DTC’s ‘EA Power User’ and ‘EA Reporting’ training courses. The training was completed during March 2014.

Sparx EA Power User modules:

  1. UML Profiles - Extending the UML and ArchiMate through the use of Profiles within Enterprise Architect thus allowing customised modelling.
  2. Tagged Values - Tagged Value types, enumerated tagged values, pre-defined structured tagged values.
  3. Shape Scripts - Use and definition with stereotypes, use and definition within Profiles, structure of Shape Scripts, predefined functions creating Shape Scripts, use of Tagged Values within Shape Scripts.
  4. Model Driven Generator (MDG) technologies - to create re-useable project structures, encapsulating UML Profiles and RTF templates in MDG, customised tool boxes and diagrams.

Generating Documentation with EA modules:

  1. HTML documentation
  2. Customisation of the output of HTML documentation
  3. RTF documentation using the templates as supplied with Enterprise Architect
  4. Producing customised templates
  5. Selecting the content
  6. Specifying the data to be output
  7. Formatting the output
  8. Use of tables
  9. Filtering and selecting the project content using report options, properties and model documents
  10. Use of model documents, Enterprise Architect master documents , Word master documents, and template fragments
  11. Batch production of documentation using Resource Documents

Dunstan Thomas Consulting were called back in June 2014 to assess how effectively Waitrose had done the configuration since the initial training and made sure that the tool was ready to be used in production of the architectural artefacts. During two days of trouble-shooting, stumbling points and additional queries were addressed and the Waitrose configuration of Sparx Enterprise Architect was good enough to be deployed to the EA user communities.


Results

Dunstan Thomas Consulting training made it clear that Waitrose’s IT Strategy & Architecture team could do a great deal more with EA than was previously thought possible.

Stephanie McMahon, Business Systems Analyst:
“The Dunstan Thomas consultant who led the training, Phil Chudley, was brilliant for us. He helped us see what was possible with EA and taught us what could be done and what couldn’t be done, which is just as valuable. Together we made EA really sing for the first time. We are now able to model our landscape much more effectively with a tool we already had in-house. No additional licenses have been needed. It has been a great exercise in unlocking the potential of an existing tool.”

Iain Plank, Enterprise Architect:
“Enterprise Architect can now be used to build models using the actual terminology they use in the business. For example we have ‘Capability’ which flows through our models and is used when talking to the business. But that object does not exist in ArchiMate ‘out of the box’. Dunstan Thomas Consulting taught us how to create the new object and tag relevant properties and features to it.”

The IT Strategy & Architecture Methods and Tools group has passed on the new ways of working using EA around the Waitrose IT department. A number of ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions for Architects, Business Analysts, Developers and Testers were delivered. The team are now starting to explore some of the EA capabilities around reporting.

For Waitrose’s Lead Information Architect Ian Batty the insights provided by the training were invaluable:
“Dunstan Thomas’ training helped us to link the logical to the physical data models. We could link the logical to the conceptual already but to go a step further to link logical to the physical was a breakthrough which the training enabled.”

“Following the training we have been able to get a long way down the road towards gathering a holistic picture of how systems link to each other. With this view we can now run an accurate and timely impact assessment if we want to make a change. We are constantly looking for new efficiencies and that means exploring different ways of doing things. EA helps us make the right decisions when planning systems changes.”


Howard Burgess, IT Systems Developer and the Waitrose ‘Super-User of EA’ has been using EA since 2008 when Partnership Services Training first selected it. He used it for development and code generation in the past but today, as a key member of the IT Strategy and Architecture team, he is using it to define the core business data model which the development teams use as the basis for interfaces between systems

Howard Burgess explains:
“It is critical to have one common definition of what a ‘line’, ‘branch’ or ‘customer’ is. This definition, its attributes and relationships will then be used by all teams. This commonality enables systems to pass data to each other more easily. It also speeds up IT projects as the work can be reused.”

“Dunstan Thomas’ training has helped with development of the data model in specific areas. For example we were able to find out about EA’s facility to demarcate Controlled Packages which are pieces of a data model which can be used across multiple projects. We had not used this functionality before. We did some proto-typing and we decided that this was our preferred route to implement our common data model. Phil Chudley helped clarify the value of this.”

“He made us think about new ways of capturing information, this led us to innovate more in this area. For example, we wanted a security classification so that certain data such as ‘customer address’ can be tagged ‘private’ while any Waitrose branch name and address remains public. We are now able to tag data according to this new security classification to ensure personal data on all systems is kept private. The MDG in EA captures and records this. We are now building up this meta-data, the data behind the data.”


In DTC’s EA reporting training course Waitrose also learnt how to report more effectively. Waitrose has up to 700 data objects and each has between one and 30 attributes. It is a huge, complex model. They wanted to do a report which printed the whole model as a PDF. Discussions in the training on the use of MDG got the team at Waitrose thinking about further plug-ins for EA. The team have used a wiki page plug-in so they can publish the definition of a specific technical phrase without the business users having to use EA.

Howard Burgess explains:
“Some of the components of the common data model are owned by specific parts of the business. We wanted the business managers to feel like they had more visibility and control over these pieces. Rather than installing EA on each of their PCs and giving them extensive training on how to use it we built a wiki server and began populating it with descriptions of what specific elements mean and contain. Business managers are able to click on a specific term and read the wiki definition of what a technical term is. In this way we can promote better understanding of common terms and bridge any gaps of knowledge between business and IT.”

“I like the fact that it is so open: you can create, manipulate, export and customise data models using it. EA is a great little piece of software. With Dunstan Thomas’ help we are now exploring its full potential.”


This case study is available to download from the DT Consulting website.

Published in Case Studies