Thursday, August 29, 2013

Building Solutions with the FIM Service

The FIM Service seems to be the unsung here of the FIM architecture diagram.  So often I hear people refer to it as the FIM Portal, which seems to carry a bunch of misconceptions such as:

  • FIM requires IIS (it doesn’t, just the portal does)
  • FIM requires SharePoint (again, only the portal does)
  • FIM workflow requires SharePoint (still no, the FIM Service has its own WF host)
  • FIM Service requires FIM Sync (it doesn’t, even though the install makes you think so)

My point here is that the FIM service can be a very useful component in a solution, which is not obvious because it is not a complete solution on its own.  For example, Self-Service Password Reset (SSPR) is a killer app for the FIM Service.  SSPR gets important functionality from the FIM Service including:

  • workflow hosting
  • policy processing
  • web service interfaces
  • storage
  • administrative interfaces (PowerShell and the FIM Portal)

A close look at the FIM Service reveals that it was built to support solutions like SSPR, but not just SSPR.  The FIM Service is extensible and well documented, meaning you could very well use it for your own killer app.  This raises the build versus buy dilemma of course, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time doing both.  Most recently I’ve been working on a team building a great app around the FIM Service (this is mostly why I’ve been quite silent lately).

To summarize my recent experience I have to say that the FIM Service is a great component that can be used in custom solutions.  It provides key functionality and is well supported by Microsoft and the community.  Truly cool and creative solutions can be built around it, if you are willing to build a solution (write good code).  There are challenges, and I will be addressing those in future posts but I have to say that the solution I’ve been working on is so cool that I show it off every chance I get

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