|By James Sun||
|October 27, 2012 03:00 PM EDT||
The electromagnetic spectrum buzzes with activity. Smartphones, wireless headsets, desktop computers, in-car navigation systems, GPS-enabled gadgets, and many more devices compete for bandwidth as well as our attention. I served as the lead software developer for a team that recently completed a demonstration of a real-time, pedestrian monitoring system at Sakura Matsuri, a major street festival in Washington, D.C. We chose PubNub as our real-time messaging backbone and this article will provide some insight into how we used PubNub and why it was the right platform for us.
Our project team, which included members from Traffax, Inc., Michael Belisle Design and Agile Media Ventures, was awarded a grant via the Reliability IDEA program, which is administered by the Transportation Research Board. The program (http://www.trb.org/IDEAProgram/IDEAReliability.aspx) funded proposals with potential to test innovative ways to improve the consistency or dependability of travel times, improve travel time prediction, and provide information to travelers and other highway system users when dealing with unexpected delays. A major goal of our project was to develop, implement and document a real-time pedestrian monitoring system at a large, outdoor event.
We approached the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C., sponsors of the Sakura Matsuri Festival, the largest one-day display of Japanese culture in the United States. It's held each April as the climax of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. In years past, the festival has attracted well over 100,000 visitors in an area that covers several city blocks near the National Mall.
The technical architecture for our project consisted of five key elements:
- BluFax sensors
Sensors were deployed in strategic locations, primarily entrances/exits and performance stages, at Sakura Matsuri. The sensors listened for BluetoothTM devices that are set in "discover" mode and uploaded detected devices to the Data server.
- Data server
The Data server received packets of data transmitted by the BluFax sensors, did some limited processing, and forwarded them to the Messaging server.
- Messaging server
The Messaging server was the heart of the system. It's where all of the incoming data, both the raw, sensor-generated data and the data from external publishers described below, was transformed into more usable information. This information was then published via PubNub. In addition to serving as the primary publisher, the Messaging server saved the sensor data in MongoDB for post-event analysis.
- Data publishers
For our demonstration, we developed a mobile web application that served as just another publisher in our architecture. In addition, we developed standalone services (using node.js) that monitored social networking sites, such as Twitter and Flickr, and published related tweets and pictures to PubNub.
- Information consumers
We developed two interfaces that consumed and presented the data generated by the event. One was a web page that presented the data, most of which was geotagged, on a Google Map in real-time. The second was a visual dashboard that showed key performance indicators of sensor-related data.
As the lead developer, my role on the project was to create the software architecture to support the demonstration at Sakura Matsuri. The remainder of this article will focus on how PubNub was integrated in the last three components of that architecture.
PubNub served as the primary messaging backbone for our technical architecture. I developed a simple specification for how all messages should be formatted throughout our application. Once the team committed to the spec, we were able to integrate publishers and subscribers very easily, across a variety of locations, platforms and technologies.
Figure 1: Main Web Display
The mobile web application, developed with PhoneGap, included a function which simulated a parking garage that updated festival attendees on the number of spaces available for patrons. Instead of spending our limited resources building and maintaining a fast, robust and scalable messaging infrastructure, PubNub allowed us to focus our energy on integrating several varied sources of data and building creative ways to present the information.
I explored several messaging options before settling on PubNub. My goals were to build something quickly using node.js, host it in the cloud, and support our "bursty" traffic load without getting bogged down in managing multiple servers and services. The first option I looked at was building our application on top of Socket.IO, a terrific library developed by Guillermo Rauch, a superstar in the node.js community. While Socket.IO is a solid library, we didn't have the time or development resources to build up the necessary infrastructure to host, manage and tune a server running Socket.IO.
At the time I was considering various options, the primary (commercial) competitor to PubNub was Pusher. While there is a key technical difference between the two services - PubNub uses HTTP streaming/long polling while Pusher uses websockets - for our use case, the base feature set and pricing offered by both were pretty similar. Since I had already hacked together a quick-and-dirty prototype using the tutorials, documentation and libraries provided by PubNub, it made the most sense to stick with PubNub.
One key benefit of PubNub now is the availability of data centers worldwide through its Multi-Region Deployment add-on. As we look to deploy our solution across the U.S. and internationally, having a technology partner who has a global presence, will be a critical success factor.
In the end, I was very happy my choice of PubNub. Their feature set and customer support were key factors in my success.
Our demonstration at Sakura Matsuri went extremely well and was well received by the sponsor as well as curious attendees. If you're interested, you can watch a short video documenting our project here, http://vimeo.com/50101608. Now that the event is over, I've had an opportunity to sit back and take a hard look at what we accomplished and the role that PubNub played in our solution. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you're evaluating PubNub as a real-time messaging component for your solution:
For our demonstration at Sakura Matsuri, we did not take advantage of segregating messages via channels. One benefit of incorporating channels is that subscribers could decide which types of messages they were most interested in receiving. Traffic and parking messages would be useful to those driving to the event, but less helpful to folks taking public transportation.
PubNub is fast. While a comprehensive performance analysis is beyond the scope of this article, let's just say that there were plenty of other components that were part of the overall architecture that were much slower than PubNub.
- Customer Support
For paid customers, PubNub offers 24x7 phone support and a service level agreement (SLA). As it turned out, I did have to call PubNub support on the day of the event. Like any good developer, I decided to modify code at the last minute (!) and wound up breaking something that had worked previously. I spoke to a PubNub customer support engineer, and he addressed my issue quickly and completely.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Apr. 30, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,442
With DevOps becoming more well-known and established practice in nearly every industry that delivers software, it is important to continually reassess its efficacy. This week’s top 10 includes a discussion on how the quick uptake of DevOps adoption in the enterprise has posed some serious challenges. Additionally, organizations who have taken the DevOps plunge must find ways to find, hire and keep their DevOps talent in order to keep the machine running smoothly.
Apr. 30, 2016 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,358
Call it DevOps or not, if you are concerned about releasing more code faster and at a higher quality, the resulting software delivery chain and process will look and smell like DevOps. But for existing development teams, no matter what the velocity objective is, getting from here to there is not something that can be done without a plan. Moving your release cadence from months to weeks is not just about learning Agile practices and getting some automation tools. It involves people, tooling and ...
Apr. 30, 2016 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,469
Between the mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Charles Kendrick, CTO & Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how business and devel...
Apr. 30, 2016 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,712
The notion of customer journeys, of course, are central to the digital marketer’s playbook. Clearly, enterprises should focus their digital efforts on such journeys, as they represent customer interactions over time. But making customer journeys the centerpiece of the enterprise architecture, however, leaves more questions than answers. The challenge arises when EAs consider the context of the customer journey in the overall architecture as well as the architectural elements that make up each...
Apr. 30, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,924
Much of the discussion around cloud DevOps focuses on the speed with which companies need to get new code into production. This focus is important – because in an increasingly digital marketplace, new code enables new value propositions. New code is also often essential for maintaining competitive parity with market innovators. But new code doesn’t just have to deliver the functionality the business requires. It also has to behave well because the behavior of code in the cloud affects performan...
Apr. 30, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,329
APIs have taken the world by storm in recent years. The use of APIs has gone beyond just traditional "software" companies, to companies and organizations across industries using APIs to share information and power their applications. For some organizations, APIs are the biggest revenue drivers. For example, Salesforce generates nearly 50% of annual revenue through APIs. In other cases, APIs can increase a business's footprint and initiate collaboration. Netflix, for example, reported over 5 bi...
Apr. 29, 2016 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,552
As the software delivery industry continues to evolve and mature, the challenge of managing the growing list of the tools and processes becomes more daunting every day. Today, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platforms are proving most valuable by providing the governance, management and coordination for every stage of development, deployment and release. Recently, I spoke with Madison Moore at SD Times about the changing market and where ALM is headed.
Apr. 29, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,419
If there is anything we have learned by now, is that every business paves their own unique path for releasing software- every pipeline, implementation and practices are a bit different, and DevOps comes in all shapes and sizes. Software delivery practices are often comprised of set of several complementing (or even competing) methodologies – such as leveraging Agile, DevOps and even a mix of ITIL, to create the combination that’s most suitable for your organization and that maximize your busines...
Apr. 29, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,752
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
Apr. 29, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,021
New Relic, Inc. has announced a set of new features across the New Relic Software Analytics Cloud that offer IT operations teams increased visibility, and the ability to diagnose and resolve performance problems quickly. The new features further IT operations teams’ ability to leverage data and analytics, as well as drive collaboration and a common, shared understanding between teams. Software teams are under pressure to resolve performance issues quickly and improve availability, as the comple...
Apr. 29, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,411
The goal of any tech business worth its salt is to provide the best product or service to its clients in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. This is just as true in the development of software products as it is in other product design services. Microservices, an app architecture style that leans mostly on independent, self-contained programs, are quickly becoming the new norm, so to speak. With this change comes a declining reliance on older SOAs like COBRA, a push toward more s...
Apr. 29, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,273
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, will draw upon their own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He will also discuss the implementation of microservices in data and applicat...
Apr. 29, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,702
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
Apr. 29, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,788
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
Apr. 29, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,674
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Apr. 29, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,498
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Apr. 29, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,243
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Apr. 29, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,428
Digital means customer preferences and behavior are driving enterprise technology decisions to be sure, but let’s not forget our employees. After all, when we say customer, we mean customer writ large, including partners, supply chain participants, and yes, those salaried denizens whose daily labor forms the cornerstone of the enterprise. While your customers bask in the warm rays of your digital efforts, are your employees toiling away in the dark recesses of your enterprise, pecking data into...
Apr. 29, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 932
These days I mostly make my living as a consultant. Consultants in general are probably not the best loved group in the world. It is common to think of consultants wafting-in to your organization, telling you things that you already know and advising you to “change your culture”, whatever that means. Subsequently they depart, no-doubt with a fat fee, and leave you as you were before with the same problems and no progress made.
Apr. 28, 2016 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,447