Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Gordon Haff, John Katrick, Mehdi Daoudi

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
"We started a Master of Science in business analytics - that's the hot topic. We serve the business community around San Francisco so we educate the working professionals and this is where they all want to be," explained Judy Lee, Associate Professor and Department Chair at Golden Gate University, 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.
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
We call it DevOps but much of the time there’s a lot more discussion about the needs and concerns of developers than there is about other groups. There’s a focus on improved and less isolated developer workflows. There are many discussions around collaboration, continuous integration and delivery, issue tracking, source code control, code review, IDEs, and xPaaS – and all the tools that enable those things. Changes in developer practices may come up – such as developers taking ownership of code ...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
Cloud Governance means many things to many people. Heck, just the word cloud means different things depending on who you are talking to. While definitions can vary, controlling access to cloud resources is invariably a central piece of any governance program. Enterprise cloud computing has transformed IT. Cloud computing decreases time-to-market, improves agility by allowing businesses to adapt quickly to changing market demands, and, ultimately, drives down costs.
For over a decade, Application Programming Interface or APIs have been used to exchange data between multiple platforms. From social media to news and media sites, most websites depend on APIs to provide a dynamic and real-time digital experience. APIs have made its way into almost every device and service available today and it continues to spur innovations in every field of technology. There are multiple programming languages used to build and run applications in the online world. And just li...
The general concepts of DevOps have played a central role advancing the modern software delivery industry. With the library of DevOps best practices, tips and guides expanding quickly, it can be difficult to track down the best and most accurate resources and information. In order to help the software development community, and to further our own learning, we reached out to leading industry analysts and asked them about an increasingly popular tenet of a DevOps transformation: collaboration.
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
How is DevOps going within your organization? If you need some help measuring just how well it is going, we have prepared a list of some key DevOps metrics to track. These metrics can help you understand how your team is doing over time. The word DevOps means different things to different people. Some say it a culture and every vendor in the industry claims that their tools help with DevOps. Depending on how you define DevOps, some of these metrics may matter more or less to you and your team.
"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.
"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.
"Grape Up leverages Cloud Native technologies and helps companies build software using microservices, and work the DevOps agile way. We've been doing digital innovation for the last 12 years," explained Daniel Heckman, of Grape Up 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.
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"Outscale was founded in 2010, is based in France, is a strategic partner to Dassault Systémes and has done quite a bit of work with divisions of Dassault," explained Jackie Funk, Digital Marketing exec at Outscale, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"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.
Let's do a visualization exercise. Imagine it's December 31, 2018, and you're ringing in the New Year with your friends and family. You think back on everything that you accomplished in the last year: your company's revenue is through the roof thanks to the success of your product, and you were promoted to Lead Developer. 2019 is poised to be an even bigger year for your company because you have the tools and insight to scale as quickly as demand requires. You're a happy human, and it's not just...
The enterprise data storage marketplace is poised to become a battlefield. No longer the quiet backwater of cloud computing services, the focus of this global transition is now going from compute to storage. An overview of recent storage market history is needed to understand why this transition is important. Before 2007 and the birth of the cloud computing market we are witnessing today, the on-premise model hosted in large local data centers dominated enterprise storage. Key marketplace play...
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...
With continuous delivery (CD) almost always in the spotlight, continuous integration (CI) is often left out in the cold. Indeed, it's been in use for so long and so widely, we often take the model for granted. So what is CI and how can you make the most of it? This blog is intended to answer those questions. Before we step into examining CI, we need to look back. Software developers often work in small teams and modularity, and need to integrate their changes with the rest of the project code b...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...