Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Flint Brenton, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, ColdFusion, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

The Cloud: Floor Wax or Dessert Topping?

The CAP Theorem is driving specialization in the data world and in the Cloud

Who can forget Saturday Night Live’s classic Shimmer Floor Wax and Dessert Topping skit? Yes, Chevy Chase oozes, it’s a floor wax and a dessert topping. The humor results not just from the dissimilarity of the two products, but because so many vendors try to be good at too many things, even though they often end up being mediocre at all of them.

Software vendors have been taking the floor wax/dessert topping approach to their respective markets for years, of course. ZapThink followed this trend closely in the SOA space during the ‘00s, as the dominant players were rolling up the market. We learned that whenever a vendor touts a “suite,” especially if they assembled it by acquiring various companies, then you usually end up with a collection of dissimilar products integrated at the PowerPoint level into a single product only Chevy Chase’s smarmiest pitch man could love.

Now it’s the Cloud’s turn. Even though Cloud Computing’s core value proposition is more of a threat than an opportunity for vendors, the vendors have no problem squeezing lemons into lemonade, turning the Cloud into an excuse to buy more gear. And sure enough, the larger vendors are on a Cloud company shopping spree, trying to buy their way out of older product architectures that are deeply Cloud unfriendly. So, in a few years will be have comprehensive Cloud software suites that purport to do everything well?

Perhaps. After all, vendors can put anything they like in their marketing—but even the smarmiest vendor would be loath to make such a claim if it strained the credulity of their audience to the breaking point. The good news for us is that there’s a fundamental difference between the Cloud and, say, the SOA marketplace—and that difference is already forcing vendors to specialize, instead of encouraging them to build one-size-fits-all suites.

That difference? The CAP Theorem.

The CAP Theorem states that no distributed computing system can guarantee immediate consistency, basic availability, and partition tolerance at the same time. You can get any two of these characteristics, but not all three at once. And keep in mind that the CAP theorem is a mathematically proven, stuck-with-it-no-matter-what theorem.

Cloud environments are inherently partition tolerant and basically available, and hence cannot guarantee immediate consistency. Enterprise relational databases are highly available and consistent, and hence are partition intolerant. It’s also possible to offer a database management system that is both partition tolerant and immediately consistent, but only by locking resources until it can complete a data synchronization step, thus foregoing basic availability.

Refreshingly, the CAP Theorem was on everybody’s mind at a recent NoSQL Conference. Furthermore, none of the vendors were claiming to have surmounted it. No products claimed immediate consistency, basic availability, and partition tolerance all at once. Floor wax or dessert topping, but never both at the same time. And why not? Clearly, the vendors realized that attendees would laugh such a claim out of the exhibit hall. Instead, they figured that since they’re stuck with the CAP Theorem, they might as well make the best of it.

The resulting impact at the conference was subtle but ubiquitous. Every vendor touted that their product was really good at solving a specific problem set, and as you moved from booth to booth, the problem sets varied as well as the products’ value propositions. Even the large vendors in attendance were pitching specialized offerings, rather than traditional products or any kind of comprehensive suite.

Certainly part of this move toward specialization is a result of the emerging nature of the Cloud and NoSQL marketplaces, but the CAP Theorem won’t go away once the products mature. As a result, ZapThink expects the maturation of these markets to take a dramatically different tack than the SOA Suite market from the last decade. If you’re waiting for some big vendor suite to solve all your Cloud problems, dream on.

While the CAP Theorem may be driving specialization in the NoSQL marketplace in particular, we see cascading effects that are impacting product offerings beyond the data world. After all, the Cloud may be driving the growth of NoSQL offerings, but the Cloud doesn’t require NoSQL and NoSQL doesn’t require the Cloud. That being said, data play an important role in any Cloud-based initiative. Data are the foundation of all of IT, after all. As a result, we see a move toward specialization in all areas of the Cloud, even when data play merely a supporting role. For example, there are many types of multitenancy that address different issues, and various types of applications should deal with state information in the Cloud differently. The CAP Theorem impacts potential product offerings in both areas in subtle, but pervasive ways.

The end result of this ongoing specialization trend is that selecting the right product won’t get much easier. It used to be that when you needed a software product, you could consider the big suites or the smaller specialists, rank them according to quality and price, and make your selection based on those criteria—essentially comparing apples to apples. But with the Cloud, you have a number of specialty players who each solve different problems well, and you need to figure out the right tool—or combination of tools—for the problems you’re trying to solve.

The ZapThink Take
The bottom line, of course, is architecture. As we like to say in our Licensed ZapThink Architect course, architecture means understanding the business problem first, and second, being able to recommend the best approach for solving that problem—in other words, the right tool for the job. As Cloud-based deployments mature, architecture will become increasingly important, in large part because no vendor will be able to credibly claim a single product suite will do everything well at once.

If you’d like more detail on how to make the right decisions about leveraging the Cloud, we recommend that you join our two-day Cloud Computing for Architects course in Washington DC Sept. 27 - 28, and come see ZapThink at CloudConnect in Chicago Sept. 12, the SOA & Cloud Symposium in London Sept. 24 - 25, Interop in New York Oct. 1, the Open Group Conference in Barcelona Oct. 23, ACORD Implementation Forum in Ft. Lauderdale Oct. 24, and @CloudExpo in New York in November. We’ll talk about floor wax and dessert topping, but never both at once!

Image credit: freshpinkpaint

 

 

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
Don’t go chasing waterfall … development, that is. According to a recent post by Madison Moore on Medium featuring insights from several software delivery industry leaders, waterfall is – while still popular – not the best way to win in the marketplace. With methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery becoming ever more prominent over the past 15 years or so, waterfall is old news. Or, is it? Moore cites a recent study by Gartner: “According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data report, ...
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
"We view the cloud not as a specific technology but as a way of doing business and that way of doing business is transforming the way software, infrastructure and services are being delivered to business," explained Matthew Rosen, CEO and Director at Fusion, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), held June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...
"DivvyCloud as a company set out to help customers automate solutions to the most common cloud problems," noted Jeremy Snyder, VP of Business Development at DivvyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes a lot of work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reduction in cost ...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Archi...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...