|By Dave Chappell, Andrew Gregory||
|June 3, 2009 08:30 AM EDT||
According to Moore's Law , processing speed and storage capacity have been doubling about every two years since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958.
Yet it seems that our propensity for building larger more complex software systems that anticipate these improvements inevitably outpace the exponential growth in capacity to support these systems. SOA is becoming more broadly adopted, along with the practice of using XML as a means of communicating data between services and the more rapid adoption of applications to Internet scale. Staring you in the face of your application's success, the potential to overwhelm your systems has become very real, and may happen at times when you least expect it.
How do we get ahead of this trend? Given that memory and storage are always increasing in the realm of enterprise computing, software needs to keep up with the pace. We need to architect from the beginning using the proper approach toward achieving linear scalability with predictable latency. Data files and feeds are increasing in size, requiring more processing, and becoming more cumbersome to manage with software designed to materialize entire files before consuming them. In some cases, the operations that are to be performed require multiple input sources to be consumed before processing can begin.
Those who are building the eXtreme Transaction Processing (XTP) style of applications - such as Telco call setup and billing, online gaming, securities trading, risk management, and online travel booking - understand this challenge well. The broader use case that is applicable across more industries is web applications that need to scale up to Internet volumes, against backend systems that were never designed to handle that kind of traffic.
In discussions with customers about scaling a SOA with predictable latency, the term that often comes up is "Boundary Costs." To put this in context, consider the following scenario - an XML document that may have originated from an internal application, database, an external business partner, or perhaps converted from an EDI document, needs to be processed by a number of services, which are coordinated by a BPEL process or an ESB process pipeline. The common approach is to place the XML document on the bus and have the bus invoke the services in accordance with the process definition, passing the XML document as part of the service request payload. Each service that needs to process that data will access the XML accordingly. Interaction with a database may also occur. This approach, as illustrated in Figure 1, sounds simple enough.
Figure 1: Calling services using BPEL process or Service Bus pipeline
However, in practice there are challenges to scalability when using this approach. What is the cost of crossing the boundary from one service to the next? How many times does that cost get incurred in the context of invoking a simple business process? What if the XML document is really large in the multi-megabyte range, or there are lots of them numbering in the thousands, or both?
Compounding this challenge is the reality that most IT environments are a mixture of platforms and technologies. Regardless of how efficient your process engine or service bus might be, the processing at the service endpoint might still become a bottleneck. A recent conversation at a customer site revealed a 15-step business process that normally takes 15 seconds to run, but of late under peak loads it is violating its 30-second SLA. The developers had spent the better part of the past two years optimizing and tuning every last bit of performance out of each one of those 15 services, and the remaining culprit identified for the poor end-to-end latency is the boundary cost between the services. A detailed examination revealed that each of the 15 service calls was spending 1-2 seconds in an open source web service toolkit doing parsing and marshaling of the XML payload. This is not intended to be a disparaging comment about open source web services toolkits, but is simply illustrating the point that parsing and marshaling of XML at the endpoints can introduce latency that can add up pretty quickly.
As illustrated in Figure 2, each service invoked needs to read the XML payload from its on-the-wire serialization form, and parse the XML into a native Java or .NET object form to be processed by the business logic. In addition if database interaction is required, then there is an additional object to relational mapping that needs to occur. Finally, the inverse of those steps needs to occur in order to generate a response to the service request and send that along to the next downstream service in accordance with the business process that is coordinating the interaction between the services.
Figure 2: Service request boundary cost between XML to Object to Relational and back again for each invocation
A popular approach for dealing with XML in a SOA is to use web services and XMLBeans. Using XMLBeans, objects are typically created by fully materializing the inputs and outputs, as this allows for maximum usability and processing. In-memory processing may include sorting, filtering, or aggregation operations, all of which increase the overall memory required to deal with each call. This strategy is not scalable and cannot be applied to many of the use cases in this area. Many products support streaming of XML, but this may limit the ability to do anything meaningful without putting the data somewhere else first.
What if there was a way to take this information and store it in an application grid, a place where the size of the data and the processing capability can far eclipse that of any single machine or process? The application grid can utilize the combined memory and processing power of multiple machines in order to complete an operation, such as the application of a complex formula or filter across an enormous data set. The application grid also provides the ability to hold the data for longer periods of time beyond the cycle of a single service request, survive server restarts, and even work across network boundaries.
If we could combine the power of the grid for data storage and manipulation with the efficiency of streaming, the result would be a highly scalable system capable of processing much more information than before. Using a combination of complementary technologies here, we achieve our goal of spreading compute operations across a distributed network of machines, and we lessen the processing and memory requirements of our data consumers - SOA services, application servers, and client applications. We also remove the need to use a database for intermediate storage of data while it is (or simply so it can be) processed. By using an application grid we can also implement patterns where we pass around references to data, rather than the data, resulting in huge efficiency gains in the communications layer, and dramatically reducing or eliminating the boundary cost.
This article includes a code example that covers the use case of processing large XML files in an application grid. In a typical XML file, there are a usually elements that repeat without any pre-determined limit. Using a STAX parser to handle streaming XML, and JAXB to handle conversion between XML and Java objects, we can extract these repeating elements from the XML stream and put them on the application grid as individual objects. The implementation can populate the grid with these objects, and do so with a limited amount of memory consumption. Once populated, the grid can process the data across the multiple machines that constitute the grid. Each grid member processes an operation or a filter and passes intermediate results to the grid client, which then assembles them into a final result set.
What Is an Application Grid?
An application grid is a horizontally scalable agent based in an in-memory storage engine for application state data. This effectively provides a distributed shared memory pool that can be linearly scaled across a heterogeneous grid of machines that consists of any combination of high-end and lower-cost commodity hardware. Use of an application grid in an application simultaneously provides performance, scalability and reliability to in-memory data.
One way that an application utilizes an application grid is to use API-level interfaces that mimic the Java Hashmap, .NET Dictionary, or JPA interfaces. An alternate approach is to use a service-level interface from a SOA environment. As applications or services place data into the application grid, a group of constantly cooperating caching servers coordinate updates to data objects, as well as their backups, using cluster-wide concurrency control.
As shown in Figure 3, the request to put data to the map is taken over by the application grid and transported across a highly efficient networking protocol to the grid node P, which owns the primary instance data. The primary node in turn copies the updated value to the secondary node B for backup, and then returns control to the service.
Figure 3: Application grid clustering ensures primary / backup of in-memory data on separate machines.
The application grid stores data across multiple machines with complete location transparency as it sees fit. A unique hash key value is all that is necessary to retrieve the stored data at a future point, regardless of where the application grid chose to store the data. This prevents the application logic from dealing with complex location dependencies and manual partitioning schemes. If one or more nodes in the grid fails, or can't be reached due to network failure, the application grid will immediately react to the failure and rebalance the data across the remaining healthy nodes. This can happen even if the failing node had been participating in an autonomous update operation. In Figure 4, the primary owner ‘P' of a piece of data fails while in the midst of retrieving data for the service. The get() request is immediately routed to the backup node and a new primary / backup pair is allotted.
Figure 4: Application grid provides continual failover of in-memory state data
This data stored in the grid can be anything from simple variables to complex objects or even large XML documents. In our case we chose to fragment what would have been very large XML documents into smaller parts and store those XML fragments as Java objects in the application grid. This allows us to do parallel queries against the data using the Java APIs.
The application grid supports a range of operations including parallel processing of queries, events, and transactions. For large datasets, an entire collection of data may be put to the grid as a single operation, and the grid can disperse the contents of the collection across multiple primary and backup nodes in order to scale. In more advanced applications, the grid may even execute business logic directly and in parallel on data storage nodes, and do so with data and logic affinity such that the logic executes on the same machine that is storing the data that the logic is operating on.
|jhv1blz5 07/03/09 10:31:00 AM EDT|
The article validated SOA as an IT architecture paradigm that can be leveraged in many ways. Taking data storage, scalability and application performance to a nifty level using SOA Application Grid infrastructure will no doubt enhance data and application performance on Oracle architecture platforms, it also has the promise of a cost effective and efficient IT delivery model. The very benefits of SOA.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Dec. 21, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 2,384
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 21, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 2,010
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Dec. 21, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 2,426
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
Dec. 21, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,162
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Dec. 21, 2014 08:30 AM EST Reads: 2,294
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Dec. 21, 2014 06:15 AM EST Reads: 2,134
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
Dec. 20, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,387
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 20, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,396
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:45 PM EST Reads: 1,257
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,385
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
Dec. 18, 2014 06:00 AM EST Reads: 940
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:15 PM EST Reads: 1,431
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,471
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,459
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Dec. 17, 2014 06:30 PM EST Reads: 1,406
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:45 AM EST Reads: 1,570
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Dec. 16, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,418
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
Dec. 15, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,755
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Dec. 15, 2014 10:30 AM EST Reads: 6,928
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
Dec. 15, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,991