Integrating systems is challenging and can get even trickier when the two systems are not in the same network.
With years of experience working with clients to set up their environments to integrate with our products, we have come across all sort of issues. In this article, we will highlight areas that we have identified as potentially problematic while helping clients to investigate connectivity issues. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as we might potentially discover other areas in the future.
CRM Infrastructure Minimum Requirements
When purchasing a CRM you must adhere to at least the minimum set of hardware, network and software requirements. Infrastructure that does not adhere to such requirements will likely, especially over time, experience performance problems causing bottlenecks and response delays. CRM installation documentation outlines these requirements and if you are unsure you should always consult your CRM provider and/or a specialist consultant.
CRM Application and Database Bottlenecks
Similar to the above, system performance might be a potential bottleneck for traffic which subsequently causes delays. This is not necessarily because the CRM or database are badly built, or not being conformant to best practices, but can be due to system degradation over time. For example, the system may not have been rebooted for a long period of time or it now handles a larger amount of data than it was built for, subsequently struggling to process data fast enough.
CRM Geographic Location
Where your CRM server is geographically located relative to our integration platform has proven to be a cause of slow response time and delays. This is a simple logic: the further the two systems are from each other the slower the transfer rate would be. This is especially true in our case when high volumes of data are being transferred to\from the CRM. We have servers in Australia, Ireland and United States (being delivered in November 2018).
Intermediate Network Hop Latency
Connectivity between two servers is reliant on network routes. Once the data leave source servers and traverse the networks that sit outside of its own and that of its ISP, the data might potentially experience a delay while traveling through intermediate network hops that reside between the source system and the CRM. If sync delays are identified, then your IT team will need to investigate, possibly in conjunction with the respective ISPs if those intermediate hops are causing the delays, and communicate with the ISPs to see if the traffic can be rerouted through faster paths.
CRM End Point Devices Bottlenecks
End-point firewall or security devices need to be configured to allow external access for integrations to work. End-point network devices (routers and firewalls) are sometimes the "silent assailant" in causing communication delays; if they are not configured properly or handling large amounts of data they can become bottlenecks. Communication between these edge network devices and the CRM internally may be another point of congestion, and you will need your technical team or external specialist to investigate internal traffic routing from their network edge device all the way to the CRM and Database.
CRM placement: DMZ vs Internal Network
Another potential area that can be a bottleneck is the location of the application servers and the database server within the internal network. We often see a DMZ to Internal Secure Network topology for CRM. Although a secure topology, it can cause delays if badly configured. In cases of reported delays, an investigation in this area is needed to determine if data is flowing fast enough between the DMZ and the internal network.
There are several networking and application commands and tools which can be used to determine network and application response performance. Some of these are listed below:
- Tracert (traceroute): Native Windows and *inux tool to measure network packet transfer latency over intermediate and end-to-end hubs.
- Wireshark: An advanced tool for analysing network communication
- Fiddler: An advanced tool for analysing application communication
- Perfmon (Windows native): Tool to measure and record server resource usage (CPU, Memory, Network throughput)
Some useful online tools:
- https://www.dotcom-tools.com/: Hosts multiple tools to measure websites and network performance
- https://centralops.net/co/: Also hosts multiple tools to measure websites and network performance