by Matt Springfield | January 23, 2024

Announcing the CData Arc Q1 2024 Release

CData Arc Q1 2024 release graphic

The first CData Arc update of 2024 is now available! Headlining this latest release are two highly requested enterprise-level features:

  • Enhanced granularity for user roles and access policies
  • Service-level agreements for connectors to detect anomalies in transaction volume

Updated user roles empower Arc admins to manage larger user groups, enhancing security within the application, minimizes risk of disruptive changes across separate flows and workspaces, and preventing user error from affecting the platform.

New service-level agreements (SLAs) feature allows your organization to enforce SLAs that you have established with trading partners by gaining visibility into transaction volume and receiving alerts when a partner is not sending the expected quantity of messages.

Alongside these powerful new tools, this release contains a wide range of other release highlights, which you can read more about at the bottom of this post.

Enhanced granularity for user roles and access policies

CData Arc has long supported user roles and access policies, but the latest release dramatically improves the flexibility, customizability, and specificity of these features. This ensures that enterprise organizations can configure permissions and user access to fit their exact specifications.

How they work

The existing user roles o Admin, Standard, and Support remain, so if Arc’s current approach to user management works for you then it will continue to do so. However, the latest release introduces the ability to create new custom-defined user roles and access policies that specify exactly which actions a user can take within Arc.

Each Arc user is assigned a role, and each role is assigned one or more access policies. Users can perform only the actions included in the access policies assigned to their role. This system is modeled after Amazon’s IAM service.

Two aspects of the user roles and policies overhaul that deserve closer attention are workspace-specific access controls and the granularity and customizability of policies.

Workspace-specific user access controls

The flow canvas in CData Arc can be divided into Workspaces, providing logical separation between different flows that may satisfy entirely different business needs. Updated user management tools now provide users with different levels of access and permissions in different workspaces within Arc.

In other words, it’s now possible for a user to create and delete flows in one workspace, while being restricted to read-only access to flows in a different workspace. This change allows Arc admins to set up workspaces within Arc to ensure that users have access to what they need without the possibility of disturbing the flows that aren’t relevant to them.

Users can be granted permissions to more than one workspace if their responsibilities require it, and Arc admins always retain the full set of permissions within each workspace in Arc.

Fully customizable, granular user access policies

CData Arc has three predefined user roles – Admins have full control over the platform, Standard users can create flows but cannot alter core application configuration like those in the Profiles tabs, and Support users have primarily read-only access to monitor flows and check transaction logs.

However, more complex and sophisticated Arc setups may require configuring user access rules with much more specificity. This release introduces fully customizable access policies so that users can be granted or denied permission to perform actions within Arc at a much higher granularity.

To help understand the level of specificity now available within user access roles, here are some examples of actions that can be explicitly permitted or denied for users within specified workspaces:

  • Creating new connectors in a workspace
  • Modifying flows (moving connectors and changing connection flow arrows)
  • Deleting connectors
  • Updating connector settings
  • Selecting new files to process
  • Re-queueing failed transactions

To see the full list of granular action permissions, you’ll simply need to try out the latest Arc update for yourself.

Service-level agreements for connectors

The alerts feature in CData Arc has long provided the ability to alert system admins when errors occur within the application. But some alert-worthy behaviors don’t throw specific errors, and these can be harder to detect.

Service-level agreements (SLAs) are designed to detect anomalies in the volume of transactions performed by specific connectors within Arc. When a connector processes fewer transactions than expected, it breaks the SLA and generates an alert. This alerts system admins to the unexpectedly low transaction volume without needing to actively monitor the connector.

As a result of properly configuring SLAs within Arc connectors, you can better enforce SLAs that you establish with your trading partners. For example, when your SLA with a trading partner requires them to send you a set quantity of messages daily, Arc SLA alerts automatically detect when your partner is falling short of their obligation.

How they work

SLAs are disabled by default, but can be enabled within a connector’s Alerts settings. When creating a new SLA, users will specify a few critical variables:

  • How many transactions are expected to be processed
  • The time duration within which these transactions are expected (in hours or minutes)
  • When the SLA should begin being enforced
  • Whether the transactions are expected every day or are scheduled for specific days
  • How to determine whether a connector is ‘at-risk’ of violating the SLA
  • Whether the SLA should affect inbound (receive) or outbound (send) transactions

Multiple SLAs can be configured for the same connector to handle cases where the expected volume changes by day or by type of transaction.

Once configured, Arc enforces the SLA by tracking the number of relevant transactions processed by the connector and comparing it to the expected volume defined by the SLA. A connector reaches ‘at-risk’ status if it has not completed the expected number of transactions and only a small (configurable) amount of time remains in the SLA duration.

Connectors that are ‘at-risk’ or have violated their SLAs will generate alerts that are sent to the appropriate system admins with information about the connector and the specific SLA.

How to use SLAs

SLAs help ensure that businesses can detect sudden drops in transaction volume. If your business depends on a steady messaging relationship with a trading partner, visibility into the health status of that relationship can be critical.

If a core trading partner suddenly stops sending you EDI messages, it may be a strong indication of a problem that needs quick attention. But unless your partner tried to send you a message and failed, it is not directly possible for Arc to detect that a problem is occurring. SLAs fill this gap by creating a rule for transaction volume that Arc can treat as an error if it is violated.

It’s possible to set small-scale SLAs for specific interactions with a trading partner or larger scale SLAs for sustained expected transaction volume. SLAs can be created and combined as desired so that edge cases or unusual days of the year are appropriately accounted for.

Some violations of SLAs may be safely ignored, and Arc will not perform any direct intervention when an SLA is violated. The critical impact of SLAs is that an alert is generated for system admins so that they can take determine for themselves if action is needed.

Other release highlights

While granular user access policies and SLAs for connectors are the highest-impact changes in the latest update, it also includes a variety of other improvements and additions to Arc:

  • Updated flow UI for enhanced visibility: Connectors now show connector type and description (on hover) for more at-a-glance understanding of your configured flows
  • Improved cleanup options: Arc now ensures files do not remain in the ‘Receive’ folder of connectors at final stage of an Arc flow
  • Improved alert settings: In addition to SLAs, email alerts can be set at the connector level to ensure relevance and specificity
  • Email Send attachment batches: The Email Send connector can send multiple attachments at a time using Batch Messages
  • EDI data formatting within the UI: Users can now examine and format EDI data to be more readable and usable
  • Enhanced flexibility in dynamic REST requests: The REST Connector now dynamically populates REST request parameters via input files and ArcScript
  • Improved alerts for EDI connectors: EDI connectors now support alerts when a negative acknowledgment (ACK) is received in response to an outbound message
  • Miscellaneous minor fixes: Small issues in edge cases for the Validate Connector, Split Connector, and S/FTP Server Connectors were addressed
  • Performance and stability improvements: The Admin API, file-based databases, and SFTP Server received performance and stability enhancements

Full release notes for the update can be found here.

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