A SOA-based BPMS targeting development teams, Active Endpoints’ ActiveVOS seeks to take a middle road approach to this problem. The company just launched the ActiveVOS 7.0 release, where it updated core technologies and streamlined the user experience a bit.
“BPM suites that focus on business users, they don’t get technical enough,” said Alex Neihaus, VP of marketing at Active Endpoints. “They become islands of computing and sit off by themselves. And with BPMS for architects and developers, the level of cost and complexity is beyond the level of what most people are willing to undertake.”
The company’s approach is to offer drag-and-drop AJAX forms using Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) 2.0 to generate executable Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) 2.0 processes. When a step is dragged into a process, the flow is automatically mapped out and can then be altered.
There is also built in support for interfacing with human processes via the WS-HumanTask standard. The BPMS supports a host of standards
Michael Rowley, the company’s CTO, said the new version would also support mashups.
“There is a new approach to enterprise mashups,” said Rowley. “Put all of the logic for presentation on the client and have the calls go right into the enterprises services layer.”
Rowley said it is too sluggish to have mashups put in calls to data providers. Rather, he favors having the calls talk directly to the services handling the data. This keeps the data on the mashup the same as the data used by the services.]]>
Take for example mobile development. Actually, take for example Sam Herron’s recent take on Android. He blogs: “I would like to position Android’s client interface with Calendar, Contacts, and Gmail as mobile SOA.” Check out his post. See what you think. Is this pushing the definition of ‘SOA’ too far? Click on ”Comments” to contribute.
For our part, we will reiterate: We think SOA has driven a whole lot of other technologies.
Android SOA – service oriented architecture – TheAndroidGuys, Sept 24, 2009]]>
The benchmark group is interested in hearing from enterprise architects and other users of SOA techniques to ensure that the working group understands customer needs and “can develop the best possible benchmarking solutions.”
The group plans an initial benchmark designed to cover Web services running on top of application servers, Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs) technologies that connect and mediate services, and composite applications choreographed through BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) technologies.
SPEC is a non-profit organization formed in 1988 to measure engineering workstation performance. The effort to achieve objective performance standards branched out in recent years to include benchmarks that cover Java (JVM and J2EE) systems. With its SOA effort, SPEC hopes to build on that earlier J2EE benchmark work.
“We want to do the same thing with SOA infrastructure that we did with [SPECjAppServer2004],” said Andrew Spyker, an SOA runtime architect and chair of the new group. “The SOA space is being used by just about [everyone] out there, but there is no standardized benchmark.”
Of course, benchmarks are challenging. We suggested to Spyker that services, which still seem to be something of a craft – if not an art – may be particularly hard to codify. Spyker does not disagree.
“We realize it is going to be a challenge to support all of the approaches that people have to a SOA. There are multiple ways to implement a service, an ESB, or a business process choreography. It is by definition, not a specification.”
“We have to try to audit what is an acceptable implementation and make sure it is something that a typical customer would do. A well described WSDL service is a good standpoint.”
According to a published statement, the SPEC benchmark group invites comments from enterprise architects and other users of SOA techniques as they work to understand needs and “develop the best possible benchmarking solutions.”
What do you think? Can SOA be benchmarked. Use the ”Comment” icon to share your opinion. Thanks!]]>
To get a view of how cloud computing may progress, one may look at the course of data grids and distributed caching. Boutique companies such as Appistry, GigaSpace, and DataSynapse have plied the parallel computing trade for a good while, and cloud computing seems a very natural next step.
Lesser known due to its roots in the narrower Microsoft software market is ScaleOut Software, which last month unveiled a Management Pack for its ScaleOut State Server that includes an object browser and parallel backup/restore capability intended to help architects and developers view, manage, and back up objects stored in its distributed cache. In recent releases, ScaleOut has expanded beyond .NET to support Java distributed applications as well.
ScaleOut-style grid infrastructures may eventually enable so-called hybrid cloud environments. The company’s CEO, William Bain, has founded several start-ups, including Valence Research. There, he developed a distributed Web load-balancing system that was acquired by Microsoft and is now called Network Load Balancing in Windows Server.
While Bain has focused on developing what he calls a “distributed data grid,” hybrid cloud environments factor heavily into ScaleOut’s strategy.
“What makes the grid so useful in the cloud [is that] distributed data grids naturally have an elastic capability,” said Bain. “It’s a perfect fit. A grid will grow with an app and allow it to have high performance without the bottleneck of having to access a server or a [Binary Large Object] store.”
ScaleOut’s recent release takes a distributed grid and gives users the ability to manage, sort and mirror any and all cached data. This should prove helpful as cloud architectures migrate data and applications from single and multi-location grids to public clouds. Allowing IT teams to analyze and report on objects inside the distributed cache of StateServer is an important step toward mainstream use.
Amway, a company in direct sales and marketing, is currently using ScaleOut to build an international e-commerce application. The company is migrating off a 60-server .NET system tied into a WebSphere application server tier. In the existing environment, the cache was duplicated on each Web server.
“My division was created to build a global Web site,” said Mark Andrews, supervisor of commerce applications in the Global E-Business division of Amway. “We’re in 80 different markets and territories but each one has its own IT operation and its own Web site. The focus of this project was to consolidate that so that eventually everyone’s working from a common framework. We’re using ScaleOut to limit the amount of times we have to talk to those external services.”
Andrews knew Amway would need a distributed cache for the project. He said the company looked into Microsoft Velocity, but the product didn’t have the managing and monitoring capabilities he was looking for. He said ScaleOut was relatively simple to set up and had a number of the management features he was used to having to build in-house.
Bain feels strongly that the qualities that separate a middle-of-the-road distributed caching system from a top quality one involve the software’s ability to interpret what’s going on inside the cache. Open-source distributed caching systems like Memcached enable extremely large datasets to flow through Web servers at high spee, but the lack of transparency in the system provides a bottleneck to performance configurability, suggests Bain, who said the Management Pack can remedy such ills.
With so much interest moving to hybrid clouds, distributed caching vendors seem to be putting their products in position to be bridges to the cloud.]]>
We should know that no technology fits all jobs over all times. But I will admit I thought XML might come close. The ‘X’ stands for ‘eXtensible,’ after all, so it seemed to have a natural mechanism for adaptation.
The idea that it had data-centric, document-centric and program-centric uses was disarming. It was clear it was not a natural developer favorite, of course. It provided the impetus for Web services, SOA, RSS, bioinformatics and much more. But, like Pick or Fortran or other once-popular languages, it is conceivable that XML’s use will at some point decline.
I came to this rumination last week as I caught Yahoo Architect and JSON originator Doug Crockford tell “The JSON Saga” to an audience at The Ajax Experience (TAE) conference hosted in Boston by TechTarget ( SearchSOA.com’s parent company). “The JSON Saga” is not quite up there with “El Cid” or “The Song of Roland” but, in Crockford’s able telling, it is quite a story.
The name Ajax was catchy, but, in fact, tons of Ajax apps are written today that never go near XML. The “X” in Ajax is fading. Some would say Ajax and XML have forked. At the same time, those simple Web apps are growing in complexity.
At TAE, Crockford took some shots at XML. He quotes an original XML Working Group Technical Lead, James Clark, saying “Any damn fool could produce a better data format than XML.” Crockford has the right to be critical of XML; he has taken some bitter bashing from those in that camp.
As he surveys the Web as a platform, Crockford sees much that can be accomplished without XML. The upsurge in REpresentational State Transfer (REST) over HTTP shows he is not alone. Yet, XML is at the heart of many software services, and more XML goes into production every day. What do you think is the future of XML?]]>
Yahoo Technical Evangelist Christian Heilmann gave a talk at The Ajax Experience 2009 conference on using and offering data on the Web. He spent a good deal of the time plugging the Yahoo Query Language (YQL). But that was understandable. In YQL, Yahoo gave developers a way to let their applications talk to hundreds of popular APIs through a common language.
Heilmann’s message had a very open-source vibe to it. He expressed his hopes for a world where developers build mobile apps with WC3 widgets so cell providers would be forced to adopt standards. He spoke of a day when IE6’s reign of standards exceptions will end and top companies will let their developers engage in 24-hour creative open-hack sessions.
[Ed Note: Heilmann impressed this desk with his drive to use technology for community good. He has, for example, worked with ad hoc programmer teams to build more accessible web interfaces for disabled individuals.]
Great progress may yet be a ways off. But Heilmann’s point that smart Web application development involves tying in APIs that cut workloads in half did ring a note of wisdom.
“Like, why make a developer spend days in making a map to the office when you can just use the Google Maps API link?” Heilmann asked.
Now the world has services such as Google Maps for directions, Flickr for photos, Twitter for messaging, Facebook for social networking and countless others. This is the age of APIs; work smarter not harder.
According to Somasegar:
Developers down on code generation beware: Doloto not only profiles your code, it re-writes it.]]>
On the other hand is the question of just how OSGi features in the programming model for enterprise applications. What is the web component model? The persistence model? How does the vast landscape of existing Java EE components begin to take some advantage from OSGi?
Robinson goes on to say the OSGi Alliance Enterprise Expert Group (EEG) is looking at these questions, and just how common Java EE technologies are addressed in an OSGi environment.
[On this one, a nod to old SearchSOA friend Daniel Rubio.]]]>
As part of the push, IBM will feature a Jam – a large-scale webcast that will include participation by James Surowiecki, author of “The Wisdom of the Crowds.”
In the background, IBM is preparing another push on its Smarter Planet initiative, with a focus on the BPM and collaboration software fronts. ‘‘Collaboration’’ has been a watchword at the company’s Lotus group for a number of years but, increasingly, the collaboration is going to be posited within business processes.
There will be more handholding across the groups in IBM going forward, as the company goes to market with new vertical solutions.
Side note: Survey data disclosed by the company as part of the Smart Planet effort suggests that there is plenty of room for improvement in business processes. IBM estimates an average of 5.3 hours per employee per week is wasted because of inefficient processes. This figure somewhat dovetails with The Journal of Irreproducible Results data that suggests U.S. workers spent about 5 hours per week in recent months trying to figure out who would replace Paula Abdul on American Idol.]]>
One option for more affordable modernization is Brownfield programming. In Brownfield programming, developers re-engineer or reverse engineer existing applications (rather than create new ones, as in Greenfield programming) to improve their quality and flexibility. If you are going to eat the elephant that is legacy IT systems, it’s best to get the beast down to bite-sized chunks, say Richard Hopkins and Kevin Jenkins, authors of Eating the IT Elephant: Moving from Greenfield Development to Brownfield.
Sometimes, migration is the path to modernization. Book publisher Simon and Schuster needed a way to speed up their mainframe system, but saw no reason to rewrite the unique business logic they’ve used to sell books for decades. With the help of Fujitsu Software, the publisher was able to migrate their existing CICS/COBOL code to a .NET environment, where the old code can be managed more effectively.
Who moved my legacy cheese?
Legacy-to-SOA modernization goes to court, part 1
Legacy-to-SOA modernization goes to court, part 2
Enterprise Mashups Tutorial