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Are there mysteries in integration?

Probably all of us have encountered a problem that at first glance does not give any logical explanation. In everyday life it even happens almost every day, but in IT it can surprise 😊. It is IT technologies that are designed to introduce rules, clarity and reliability into our work processes. It is therefore all the more unusual when a problem arises in IT that has no clear explanation at first or second glance.

Some time ago, we were testing the transfer of big data processing, namely the processing of bank statements, which had to process in one batch on the order of tens of thousands of payment movements. As this was a key high-priority integration, we performed thorough testing on a pre-production environment. In addition to the actual testing of complex functionality and security, we were also faced with so-called stress tests, where we simulated the maximum load on the system. For us, this meant testing the integrations with the transmission of as many payment movements as possible in a single bank statement.

The basic technical tests went perfectly on the first try, so we moved on to the stress tests quite quickly. However, that’s when the integration platform started to show errors, and that was when trying to send a huge batch. The error that was returned to the sender was very generic, which is also why the exact cause of the problem could not be determined at first glance. It looked like we had exceeded the maximum system parameter settings during the transmissions and requested to increase them. In fact, we all assumed that there was a problem with the size of the data being transferred itself. So we adjusted the system parameters and sent another batch of similar size for processing. In this case, everything went fine and the problem seemed to be solved for good. So we continued testing and later returned again to the batch where the original error occurred. And this is where the integration mystery arose. The batch was again not delivered and the system again detected only the basic error without a more precise cause. We repeated the transmissions several times. Other batches were passing through fine, but the batch in question seemed to be cursed. Eventually it was quite clear that the problem was only occurring to the batch where we started testing. So we went into a deeper analysis of the system logs and found that the problem was arising in the very content of said message. In this case, the message content was not to be checked by the integration platform at all. The solution to the mystery didn’t take long, although the real reason for the problem surprised us a bit. In the generated data of one textual description of a bank movement, a forbidden word appeared from the dictionary of a well-known programming language, which I will not name exactly for the sake of certainty. Integration platforms not only think about the security of the connection and data transmission, but they can also control the content of the messages themselves. So in this case, preventive “virus protection”, technically known as “content filtering” with pre-configured settings, worked. This function can be activated mainly to prevent dangerous content from being delivered to the target system that could potentially perform some dangerous operation. Thus, the integration platform behaved correctly, exactly according to the settings, and guarded the security of the whole process really perfectly. The problem arose simply because the security consultants activated this feature, but unfortunately they forgot to inform us about it beforehand 😊.

The solution itself has been in productive operation for a long time, and there has really only been one similar error. Today, the system administrator knows how to identify and quickly resolve such a problem. Therefore, we don’t need to send him suspicious links through the payment order text just to keep him alert …

So, like every mystery in integration, this mystery was eventually solved. The above solution for processing payment batches today works 100% and is, moreover, superbly secure. Once again, we were convinced that professionalism in IT is based not only on knowledge, but above all on real experience.

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