In building the Scribe Online solution, a key goal was to create a system that could operate seamlessly in the hybrid world, reflecting our belief that increasingly customers and partners will face the challenge of integrating applications that sit within a customer's firewall with cloud-delivered applications combined with other web service-based sources for data improvement and data enrichment. Scribe's agent-based technology is a key facet of delivering solutions in the hybrid world. In this blog post I wanted to talk about the Scribe agent, explain several aspects of its architecture and discuss why we architected the solution the way we did.
The Scribe Agent is a lightweight component that runs locally within your IT environment. The primary responsibility of the agent is to establish secure communications between premise-based applications, cloud-based applications and with Scribe Online. The agent architecture provides a number of key advantages, including:
- The agent enables secure communications without the need for you to poke holes in your firewall.
- The agent allows you to fully control of your data. Unlike hub and spoke architectures, integrating a premise-based application with a cloud-based application with Scribe Online does not require that data flow through Scribe Online. You are in complete control of which data leave your firewall and where it goes.
- The agent operates semi-autonomously. The agent periodically communicates to the Scribe Online cloud to receive new commands (start, pause) and to communicate work performed – and the agent continues to work even if that communication is temporarily disrupted. For example, when Scribe released the Scribe Online April update, we scheduled a 60 minute maintenance window. During that period, even though Scribe Online was down for maintenance, agents continued to run and continued to process data; customers' mission critical integration services were entirely unaffected.
- The agent is a headless program which runs as a service – it has no user interface. All configuration of and interaction with the agent is performed via the Scribe Online user interface – which means that you and your partners can monitor, manage and administer your integration services regardless of whether you are working on premise or remotely, without the need for VPN access to the agent machine.
- The agent is lightweight – easy to install and easy to configure with minimal technical prerequisites. A design goal of Scribe Online is that a new user should be able to sign up for Scribe Online, install an agent, and configure the Scribe Online RS service in less than ten minutes. The download is less than 15MB and typically runs in less than 100MB of RAM.
- The agent is high performance. When you create a solution instance via the UI, Scribe Online compiles that solution and downloads the compiled executable to the agent behind the scenes. When your solution is running, its running compiled code – which means it is fast.
- Agents are disposable. All settings and process definitions reside in the cloud and are synchronized down to the agent as needed. For example, if you lose your agent machine due to a hard disk crash, simply download and install the agent on a new machine. The first thing the agent does upon establishing connectivity to the cloud is bring down process definitions and instructions – and in less than 10 minutes your integration is up and running again!
- The agent is low maintenance – effective with the upcoming May update of Scribe Online, agents update themselves so that you automatically take advantage of new features and bug fixes.
- Agents are architected for easy active-active clustering. You can install multiple agents today – and in the near future, you will be able to exercise fine-grained control over which solution instances run on which agents, including solution instances which run on multiple agents simultaneously. Thus, with a fraction of the effort required for existing clustered solutions, you are able to install and configure multiple agents working collaboratively for easy load balancing, high throughput, and easy high reliability.