Tuesday, March 13, 2007

TIM 4.6 Basic Implementation Workshop a good bet

Anyone looking to take any training on Tivoli Identity Manager 4.6 would be wise to get into these workshops available out here in Costa Mesa. Before attending the Basic Implementation workshop {Link}, I thought that maybe it wouldn't be a great use of my time since I've already implemented TIM in some sandbox capacity and participated in it's implementation in at least one development environment already. I figured now that I've actually done it how much more could I learn in a basic course. Furthermore, at a customer site we were already getting into some more heavy lifting with customization of the LDAP adapter and such. My being a training would mean I'd miss a week of that really goods stuff customizing an adapter.

My first day in Costa Mesa convinced me that taking the course was a good idea. First of all I should explain something. Any of these workshop courses are not done by Tivoli Education. They are done by the Tivoli enablement team. These are the people that get called out to a customer when either the customer themselves or a business partner screwed up. They are sort of rescue and recovery. This team is also as close as you can get to the people that actually write the code. So these folks teaching and developing the course material are people actually implementing it in some pretty complex cases. Another interesting point is that if the class says it is a workshop then it is this Tivoli Enablement team that is doing the class and it is also only available in Costa Mesa, CA. That's not to say that the other courses are not any good because even the enablement team will say that courses like Extending TIM are good ones to get. It's just nice to get training from people the caliber of our friend Ram Sreerangam.

The guy teaching this class is Brad Olive. He is the Workshop Manager and has been involved with Tivoli Identity Manager since almost the very beginning. Before IBM acquired the product it was called Access360. There was even two other companies before Access360. Brad goes back that far.

This class is hands on. So Brad talks about how the product gets deployed in the real world using some slides, then you quickly get to actual exercises. The cool thing is that you don't spend any time installing the products. They are already installed for you. The classroom time is spent configuring the products to work. The first day we built the org tree, fed users into the tree, configured a simple placement rule, provisioning policy and service, etc.... What was cool about Brad teaching this class is that if features of the system do not make sense to use he will tell you straight up not to use them. Here were some of his points:

1.) Service Selection Policy - The web courses talked about how great a feature this was. Brad admitted that yes the idea was really great, but unfortunately this feature has a slight problem. These Service Selection Policies get evaluated every time anything in the system changes. This could be a performance killer. Conclusion... avoid using them.

2.) Org Tree objects like Location and Business Partner are nice if you like the cute little pictures in the org tree to differentiate what they are, but in reality these can complicate your tree design and make things a little harder to find. Conclusion... use Organizational Units or Admin Domains instead.

3.) Static vs Dynamic Roles - It's fine to use both, but if you have many Dynamic Roles you can sometimes suffer some performance since these get re-evaluated a lot.

So even if you have installed TIM and configured it to some degree this is a good class to take. Obviously if you have already taken customers from development to production then this class may be a bit simple, however you would be surprised what you can learn from a basic class. Maybe some things you have been doing all along are now considered bad practice. Brad tells me these classes are constantly being updated to reflect real world practices, so if the enablement team has learned something new about the product along the way, they incorporate this into the class.

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