By far, the most common use of the Vault API is to provide some sort of integrations with something else. Sure there are some good utilities up on the App Store, but they don’t represent the majority of the cases. Consulting is where it’s at, and there are a surprising number of systems out there to connect Vault to.
Each integration is different, so there is no way for me to tell you everything you ever need to know. However, there are certain patterns that emerge, and it’s the patterns that I will be focusing on.
The first pattern is the one I used when designing the SharePoint 2010 integration. One system provides a view of data in another system. In this case, SharePoint 2010 provides a view Vault data.
If you do it right, the end user should not know (and not care) that the data is coming from an outside system. The SP integration does this very well. Here is a game you can play. Look at the following video and try to figure out what is the SharePoint data and what is the Vault data.
One cool thing about BCS, the SP feature I used for the integration, is that it doesn’t just provide a view of external data. BCS allows you to link SharePoint data with external data. This is a pretty useful feature for integrations like this. If you can’t link the data between the two systems, then the integration loses a lot of value. The end user may as well just use two separate applications.
I’ll end the article with some quick bullets on the advantages and disadvantages of this pattern. If I left anything out, please let me know in the comments section.
- No duplication of data - Everything is just cleaner when data lives in one and only one place. You don’t have to worry about stale data, and you don’t have to worry about conflicts
- Performance - Constantly pulling data from another source is time consuming. No matter how much you optimize things, it will never be as fast as having the data in the same system. For SharePoint, we found that the distance between the SP server and the Vault server was the biggest factor in how quick the Vault pages came up in SP.
- Network Dependency - If the network ever goes down between the two systems, the integration is effectively broken. People who rely on the data will no longer be able to access it.