Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Deploying an Integrated IBM Tivoli Security Solution -- Average at best

So far the I would grade the quality of the IBM Training classes for Tivoli Identity Manager on average about a C+.

This latest class Deploying an Integrated IBM Tivoli Security Solution was not the class it was advertised to be. Go ahead and click the link and read the course description yourself. I'll tell you below what's wrong with the description:

1.) The first sentence says "Presented as a case study". NOT. There is virtually no lecture whatsoever which would be a good thing if the labs better explained what the company objectives were. On several occasions I had to ask what the point was to some of the things we were doing in the labs.

2.) The second sentence says "using TIM 4.6, TAMeb 6.0 and TAM for ESSO". NOT. None of these versions of software are included in this course. In this course they use TIM 4.5, TAM 5.1 and there is no integration or mention of TAM for Enterprise Single Sign On (ESSO).

3.) In the last sentence of the initial description it says "this course shows how to integrate these products to provide services to disparate business units while maintaining security policies." NOT. There was no such discussion illustrating the providing of services to disparate business units.

In the Topics section where it lists bullet points, the first 3 bullet points are covered in this class using the old TIM and TAM software (TIM 4.5 and TAM 5.1). The 4th and 5th bullet point are not covered at all. The last bullet point maybe partially .

So if the inaccurate course description was not enough, the next problem seems to be common with the Tivoli training classes. The machines being used are simply not powerful enough to do this work. In this class each student was issued two desktop PCs. Each PC allegedly had a 2Ghz processor with 1.7GB of RAM. This should be OK for most of what we need to do, but the reality is that the machines perform poorly to the point that it disrupts the learning process. The first day we ran into enough problems that forced the instructor to re-build new images of the machines after class that day so that we could re-group and try again the second day. So the class ended up finishing early the first day because the machines were reduced to uselessness since the TAM Policy server kept hanging the machine on almost every student in the class.

Day 2 was better, but still machines were plagued with performance issues causing us to reset the VM's and in some cases left our TAM Policy server databases corrupt. We did manage to get through most of the day today completing the required labs by the end of the day.

The problem is that we just don't seem to be even close to a real world use of these products. I have no problem taking the class using old software. I may run into this older software in the field so I'm fine with working with the older product, but there simply is not enough real world training in this class and it simply is being incorrectly advertised as one thing and delivering another.

In one lab we are deploying this web application called Mantis (a help desk application) that runs on WebSphere. That's fine. We need some kind of app to put behind TAM. One of the exercises in this deployment has you doing this migrateEAR5 to externalize the roles and security info from this web application to TAM. There was no lecture explaining that. The labs did not tell you why you were doing what you were doing. Like robots we are supposed to just do what the lab says to do. Luckily the instructor was very informative on this topic when I asked him to explain why we were doing this, but stopped short of really getting into what kinds of things we need to look for in a web application that might make it compatible with TAM. Why couldn't the class demonstrate an ASP/.Net app, do a comparison to the Java app and show us what we need to look for when considering integrating any web application behind WebSEAL? Not everyone uses WebSphere applications.

I have to say if you are considering taking this course, don't bother. There has got to be a better one.

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