Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Stackify Blog, Automic Blog, Simon Hill, Pat Romanski, 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 the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

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).

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
DevOps teams have more on their plate than ever. As infrastructure needs grow, so does the time required to ensure that everything's running smoothly. This makes automation crucial - especially in the server and network monitoring world. Server monitoring tools can save teams time by automating server management and providing real-time performance updates. As budgets reset for the New Year, there is no better time to implement a new server monitoring tool (or re-evaluate your current solution)....
The benefits of automation are well documented; it increases productivity, cuts cost and minimizes errors. It eliminates repetitive manual tasks, freeing us up to be more innovative. By that logic, surely, we should automate everything possible, right? So, is attempting to automate everything a sensible - even feasible - goal? In a word: no. Consider this your short guide as to what to automate and what not to automate.
Cavirin Systems has just announced C2, a SaaS offering designed to bring continuous security assessment and remediation to hybrid environments, containers, and data centers. Cavirin C2 is deployed within Amazon Web Services (AWS) and features a flexible licensing model for easy scalability and clear pay-as-you-go pricing. Although native to AWS, it also supports assessment and remediation of virtual or container instances within Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or on-premise. By dr...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...
While we understand Agile as a means to accelerate innovation, manage uncertainty and cope with ambiguity, many are inclined to think that it conflicts with the objectives of traditional engineering projects, such as building a highway, skyscraper or power plant. These are plan-driven and predictive projects that seek to avoid any uncertainty. This type of thinking, however, is short-sighted. Agile approaches are valuable in controlling uncertainty because they constrain the complexity that ste...
Digital transformation has changed the way users interact with the world, and the traditional healthcare experience no longer meets rising consumer expectations. Enterprise Health Clouds (EHCs) are designed to easily and securely deliver the smart and engaging digital health experience that patients expect today, while ensuring the compliance and data integration that care providers require. Jikku Venkat
identify the sources of event storms and performance anomalies will require automated, real-time root-cause analysis. I think Enterprise Management Associates said it well: “The data and metrics collected at instrumentation points across the application ecosystem are essential to performance monitoring and root cause analysis. However, analytics capable of transforming data and metrics into an application-focused report or dashboards are what separates actual application monitoring from relat...
"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...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, 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.
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., 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.
Many enterprise and government IT organizations are realizing the benefits of cloud computing by extending IT delivery and management processes across private and public cloud services. But they are often challenged with balancing the need for centralized cloud governance without stifling user-driven innovation. This strategy requires an approach that fundamentally reshapes how IT is delivered today, shifting the focus from infrastructure to services aggregation, and mixing and matching the bes...
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, 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.
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
We just came off of a review of a product that handles both containers and virtual machines in the same interface. Under the covers, implementation of containers defaults to LXC, though recently Docker support was added. When reading online, or searching for information, increasingly we see “Container Management” products listed as competitors to Docker, when in reality things like Rocket, LXC/LXD, and Virtualization are Dockers competitors. After doing some looking around, we have decided tha...
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
"We are an integrator of carrier ethernet and bandwidth to get people to connect to the cloud, to the SaaS providers, and the IaaS providers all on ethernet," explained Paul Mako, CEO & CTO of Massive Networks, 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.
From our perspective as consumers, perhaps the best thing about digital transformation is how consumerization is making technology so much easier to use. Sure, our television remote controls still have too many buttons, and I have yet to figure out the digital display in my Honda, but all in all, tech is getting easier for everybody. Within companies – even very large ones – the consumerization of technology is gradually taking hold as well. There are now simple mobile apps for a wide range of ...