Many clients ask us how TimeControl can adapt to their changing IT environments. It wasn’t so long ago that every mid to large-sized firm would have its corporate systems located on servers on-premise, inside their facility with databases, applications and networking all handled internally. Advances in the stability, performance and security of Infrastructure in the cloud services from major vendors like Amazon, Oracle and Microsoft have shifted the computing load of many organizations to cloud providers.
One of the key advantages of having all your corporate systems on-premise is that integration between them can happen in the background at a database level. Even if the ties between tools are done as an import/export of transaction files, having everything on the same servers makes that a little bit easier.
With the move of systems to the cloud, internal IT personnel are confronted with the question of, “How will our systems integrate?” The most common environment is one where there are still some organizational systems working internally on premise, some systems which are subscribed to as a service and some systems which are hosted on external cloud servers in what is commonly known as a “private cloud”. We think of these mixed environments as “hybrid”. And, if that’s not enough, corporate environments are changing at a faster and faster pace. The impact of the pandemic has had many IT departments reaching out to see how they can leverage cloud computing to better server their workers who are no longer co-located.
At HMS we are asked how to support these kinds of shifting environments all the time. The short answer to the question, “Can we integrate our hybrid systems with TimeControl is, “Yes”. But given that’s not too useful, here are some basic points to understand about why we say so:
Both on-premise and in-the-cloud
TimeControl started as a on-premise solution back in 1994. There were no cloud computing offerings then. In 2011, we released the TimeControl Online subscription service in the cloud. That service has continued and expanded since that time. To this day, TimeControl is still offered for on-premise and in-the-cloud use and our understanding of both environments makes us particularly well suited to help integration in a mixed hybrid environment.
One decision we made early on was that we would maintain a single code base for both TimeControl Online and TimeControl on-premise. This would ensure that any features or improvements we made for one environment would work for the other. That kept a sharp focus on being able to support not just TimeControl but anything linked to it no matter what environment it was in.
Many ways to integrate
As part of creating the TimeControl Online service, we had to look at how we would continue to empower the integration abilities of TimeControl. One method we’d used sometimes in the past to integrate two systems was database-to-database. That was clearly not going to be available in the online service. So we worked on expanding one existing method and adding another.
Scheduled Imports and Exports
We extended existing functionality in TimeControl for importing and exporting transaction files in several ways.
First, we made the imports and exports scheduleable so they could happen automatically in the background. With corporate systems like ERP environments, there was an overwhelming desire to not push data programmatically into the Finance system but rather to deliver a properly formatted set of data to be imported by the ERP tools. That left CFOs more confident that their ERP tool had validated the data with whatever rules had been established for the organization.
Second, we made it possible for imports and exports of those transaction files to support FTP connections, so the resulting files didn’t have to be on a network server that TimeControl had access to but could rather work through encrypted FTP protocols to move data to and from servers that were under the control of the client whether they were on-premise or private cloud.
Application Programming Interface (API)
The ultimate tool in integrating seamlessly in the background of TimeControl is our RESTful API. This bi-directional programming interface allows data to be pulled from TimeControl for use by other tools and allows data to be pushed from corporate systems like HR, Payroll, Finance, Cost control to populate the data that TimeControl needs for users to function. The API is extensive and can interface with other tools whether they are database-based or API’s themselves or middleware environments that are used to tie multiple systems together.
If you’d like to find out more about TimeControl’s flexible architecture and support for your own IT environment, visit: TimeControl.com/features/flexibility or contact HMS to talk to a product specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.