Low-latency messaging, complex event processing, big data, operational business intelligence and other high-powered technologies must be considered by IT leaders looking to achieve competitive edge. But most IT leaders know such systems come at a price, and they must be subjected to the same ROI considerations any other business effort must endure. Continued »
Integrating disparate computing systems is by no means an easy task. Integration is one of the most important reasons to focus on Web services in enterprise architecture. Standards like SOAP and REST make it less difficult to get various applications and components talking to each other. However, these protocols are not without latency costs. Continued »
While outlining its intentions for its new FuseSource acquisition, Red Hat’s JBoss group this week discussed plans for incorporating BPM technology it recently bought from Spanish BPM company Polymita. As described by Red Hat, the Polymita software is meant to more closely integrate advanced BPM capabilities with the JBoss enterprise middleware line.
Red Hat JBoss anticipates a convergence of rules, process and event-style programming, said Ken Johnson , director, product management, Red Hat, and the Polymita BPM purchase helps the firm expand to better cover that convergence. He said he expected Polymita’s present ‘script-like’ rules capabilities to be replaced by open source Drools rules formats.
Its Drools-based rules engine has been the centerpiece of the Red Hat JBoss BPM effort to date. The Polymita purchase may presage a BPM positioning more in tune with other BPM and infrastructure players’ efforts, where a rules engine and a BPM engine typically both get emphasis.
Industry analyst Steve Craggs told SearchSOA.com that he expected Red Hat “to change their approach and go for both a BPM product and a rules product.” He went on to say that Red Hat has work cut out for it in the BPM space. “BPM is a completely different sort of sale from traditional middleware like messaging and ESBs and even application servers,” he said.
Red Hat’s Johnson said but that in 6 to 12 months Polymit’s BPMN-based technology would be incorporated into a JBoss BPM platform that included the company’s rules engine. The rules engine would continue to be made available separately, he said.
Jack Vaughan, Editor in Chief
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At Forrester Research’s Application Development & Delivery Forum last year, we were introduced to the idea that innovative disruption was the principal force propelling the future of IT. In the last year, the sense of disruption of convention in both digital and business models seems to have only grown stronger.
Disruption is driven in a big way by forwardly charging mobile computing applications. Strategies for successfully developing such apps are among the central elements upcoming at this year’s Forrester development event, dubbed the Developing Digital Disruption forum.
Aimed at application development and delivery professionals, the event coincides with another forum, called Embracing Digital Disruption, intended for business architects and business process leaders. For both forums, disruption is front and center.
“In the mobile space we are seeing disruption of our customer’s planning,” said Forrester Principal Analyst Jeffrey Hammond, who indicated mobile apps are no longer mere add-ons to existing applications, but are instead the ‘’first option’’ for application development. That turns the table on conventional approaches, and calls for changes in skill sets, he said.
“What people are finding is that it requires a lot of different skills. It requires a different culture in development. Before, ‘agile’ was nice to have. Now it is a necessity,” he said.
And that changes not just how things are built but also the way in which they are designed. “The need to release [updates] more frequently has an impact on architecture,” said Hammond.
At the Developing Digital Disruption forum, Hammond and colleague Michael Facemire, Forrester senior analyst, will debate emerging mobile architectures such as MBaaS (Mobile back-end as a Service) and mixed-mode mobile middleware.
The digitization of business processes has gone far beyond the early Web days, when e-commerce emerged as a supplement to the basic endeavors of ‘’brick and mortar’’ enterprises. Online strategy and product strategy are one and the same.
“IT people traditionally think of the product as something on the other side of the wall. In an age of digital disruption, that is no longer a good assumption,” said Randy Heffner, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester.
Products, be they books, cameras or even cosmetics, increasingly appear as part of a digital on line presentation, and all stakeholders need to adopt new ways of thinking. “Don’t silo the product experience,” said Heffner.
Naturally, we asked Heffner what role SOA would play in this new world. “SOA continues as a way to package business logic so it is available where it needs to be,” he responded. “It’s an enabler for those who are doing new things like mobile. SOA is just in the big mix somewhere.”
Clearly, mobile applications connected via the Web disrupt the status quo. Development leaders must adjust, taking an even greater role in facilitating communication between technology, product and business architects. “You have to think about how you are doing customer experience and everything else in a much more integrated way,” said Heffner, who will discuss how to blend product design, systems of engagement and systems of record at the upcoming Forrester event.
Heffner’s forum session is entitled “Digital Disruption and the Future of your Business, Product and Technology Architectures.” Among a host of other sessions are ones addressing the need for agility in planning and governance, security in the age of the open Web and digital design experience principles. The event is set for Oct. 18 to 19 in Orlando, Fla.
Running as a theme through the event is the need for software development teams to better understand the customer. Even after nearly 20 years of the World Wide Web, many enterprise IT teams are still only familiar with development for ‘captive’ in-house users, who, if they don’t like an application interface, are not likely to get up and walk. Today’s Web-based mobile device wielding customers will, however.
Forrester’s analysis holds that more and more companies will begin think of themselves as software development companies, ones with a special focus on creating a topnotch customer experience. “You can’t use an employee to make up for your poor user experience anymore,” said Hammond.
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Cloud and mobile test service SOASTA has acquired LogNormal, makers of Web performance tools. That news accompanies SOASTA’s release of mPulse, a real-time user monitoring tool that itself derives from an already established alliance between SOASTA and LogNormal.
The mobile user space differs from that of traditional Web apps, said Tom Lounibos, SOASTA’s CEO, and so requires new types of tools. “On the mobile side, customers are looking at the difference between mobile apps and web apps. It goes beyond pure footprint. It goes to how the [devices] are being used.”
“With mobile, you have people on the move. They are usually interested in one thing, say, a sports score, or a transaction. None of the developers have too much visibility into this,” said Lounibos.
He said mPulse garners performance measures like bandwidth and page load time as well as engagement metrics like bounce, exit and conversion rates. User metrics like user location, device type, carrier speed, and application usage are captured too. Then, mPulse displays the information via an interactive in-memory monitoring dashboard.
Mobile development, clearly, is changing the overall development ethos. Just when some test shops were getting their arms around the idea of end-user PC interaction monitoring, they face new challenges of a mobile nature. Not surprisingly, SOASTA’s Lounibos sees it a s a key area of attention, as was seen depicted in a recent posting on sister blog Head in the Clouds. – Jack Vaughan
As JavaOne 2012 kicks off in San Francisco Sept 30, industry experts and practitioners gather to learn about the newest in Java standards, best practices and developments. New this year are a larger keynote location at the Masonic Auditorium and an expanded schedule that includes hundreds of technical sessions, hands-on labs, and BOFs.
Meanwhile, a host of new languages are being fielded on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) platform, giving developers much to digest. Finally, OSGi has edged into production as a means for modular Java app making – but it is challenged, some would say, by Jigsaw, a newer modularization scheme that apparently will not make the next Java rev. One thing is clear: Oracle is now firmly established as chief Java overseer.
For Java consultant, trainer and JavaOne presenter Venkat Subramaniam, founder of Agile Developer, Inc., JavaOne is a chance to reach developers who need new ways to be effective on the JVM platform. Among key concerns he cites are concurrency. New multicore chips, he says require new programmatic ways of working with Java, whether the target platforms are conventional or new cloud varieties.
On multicore chips, [software] multithreads are on steroids, Subramaniam said. That brings out problems in Java coding that have not been uncovered in familiar single-core implementations. Multicore chips bring multiple levels of caches, he added. “Programs that pretend to work correctly get broken. This is not a problem we invited,” he said.
For those worried about Java’s future, Subramaniam has relief. “It will continue. It is powerful. But the way we use it is going to change in the future,” he said.
How will it change? Subramanian suggests Scala, Groovy and JRuby will appear on the JVM with greater frequency to help deal with a new architecture paradigm that places Web applications in juxtaposition to enterprise apps.
As has been seen in other recent JavaOne events, JVM and Java as a platform are becoming as important as – or more important than – Java, the language.
“I think Java is very strong and healthy but you have to look at all the different languages that are available,” said Kirk Knoernschild, software developer. He points to Groovy, Scala and Clojure, as well as other languages as examples of the new “Java platform” landscape.
“You really need to focus more on the separation of Java as a runtime platform. More and more, we will see organizations using the right language on top of the platform,” said Knoernschild, author of “Java Application Architecture: Modularity Patterns with Examples Using OSGi” [Prentice Hall, 2012]. “This language could be Java. It could be Groovy. It could be Grails.”
In fact, the JavaOne event offers over 500 wide-ranging sessions. Some notable choices include “Rapid Robot Programming,” “Building Mobile Apps with HTML5 and Java,” “Going Real-Time: How to Build a Streaming API,” and “How RESTful is Your REST?”
Among the nearly 540 speakers at this year’s JavaOne are the so-called “Java Champions,” a selection of community-nominated technology leaders who will run a series of technical talks and community-building activities at the conference.
Stephen Colebourne, project lead at Joda.org, is one member of that group. His talk, “From Instants to Eras, the Future of Time in Java,” will look ahead to the inclusion of an easy-to-use, expressive API for times and dates in Java SE 8. “Java Champion” Bruno Souza will talk about “101 Ways to Improve Java: Why Developer Participation Matters.” He will lead a community brainstorming session about how developer participation can influence the development of Java technologies. -Stephanie Mann and Jack Vaughan
Software in the original mainframe days was all glommed together. Why not? Who was looking? Sometimes, reluctantly, some structure came about. Even in the early mid-range days, code was built up into classes, objects and components that were often loosely strung together.
With standard Java and standard Java servers, fairly strict and familiar three-tier architecture came about. The question to ask now is “Will it last forever?” Like so many things, the fundamental tiers of computing do come up for reconsideration once and a while.
Node.js and other browser-influenced technologies seem to encourage software architects to cast skyward their monolithic three-tier components. As these flying components drift down to earth, they may not settle back up in the same alignment. The sudden near-hegemony of mobile clients is pushing things ahead quickly. A variety of new architectures are brewing.
In some ways, there seems a growing reaction to the rule of Java and the server. That view emerges from a look at a reporters’ notebook. It’s not going away, but as described in an interview with James Strachan, now senior software consultant with JBoss: “The server side is becoming thinner and thinner.” When SearchSOA.com and TheServerSide.com spoke with Strachan earlier this year at the CamelOne event, the topic of Node.JS was on the docket, but Strachan was expansive.
He said, looking forward:
The server side might just be Amazon Simple DB or Mongo DB or something; there might not be much of a three-tier architecture anymore.
Meanwhile, with flair, he continued:
….the client side is becoming bigger and more and more complex; it’s real-time now, everyone’s doing Ajax, real-time updates, and people are doing lots of single-page applications – which is when one Web page starts up and the entire app is in there. There are lots of models, containers, relationships and persistence and “yada-yada.”
Strachan notes this is highly driven by mobile applications:
Are the new approaches overblown? Is real change far off? Do you see a shift in emphasis to the client? If so, do you think services or SOA have had a hand in breaking down the status quo? -Jack Vaughan
What has sometimes been described as mobile middleware has taken a new tack. Now, the idea of Backend as a Service (BaaS) has begun to take off in the mobile application development space. Proponents of BaaS say it helps developers easily build mobile apps, or any other applications connected to a cloud backend. Some of their views suggest a wholly new computer architecture is in the works.
By way of example is FatFractal, a San Francisco-based BaaS provider that launched just this week. The company describes its product as offering native code support for any connected device, along with an events model and declarative security. FatFractal also says it integrates all of those components as lightweight services.
While it may be the newest BaaS player, FatFractal joins a slew of companies already in the field. Its competitors include StackMob, Kinvey, Applicasa and Parse.
Central to FatFractal’s approach is a NoServer module, which takes JSON requests and handles them via a script execution engine and a Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) engine.
FatFractal CMO David Lasner thinks the new approach is needed. “It’s just hard to do a backend in the cloud and make it work,” he said. “The nature of applications is changing and you’re getting thousands of applications that use a lot of data.” – Stephanie Mann
Hoteliers were among the first businesses to turn to information technology. Now, their once-new foundational computers have become legacy systems that can block in the way of delivering new products and promotions. These are not always just mainframe systems – once-shiny high-performance mid-range (or larger) Unix systems and even pre-SOA-era application servers may be standing in the way of business flexibility just as easily.
In recent years, as some systems began to show their age, Choice Hotels International, Inc., which franchises over 6,000 hotels, opted to update with middleware systems from Oracle Corp. Choice Hotels’ move is well along. SOA is part of the journey.
“Several years ago, we did an overall assessment and decided there were too many point-to-point connections,” said Rain Fletcher, vice president of application development and architecture, Choice Hotels. “Maintenance was difficult, and our business needed more velocity in delivering new functionality.”
That is the background to Choice’s selection of Oracle Fusion Middleware, SOA Suite and BPM Suite, he said. Oracle application server software also provides the base for those higher level stack elements. Fletcher described Choice’s as “a WebLogic shop,” referring to the former BEA, now Oracle, app server suite.
The legacy systems were becoming “a liability in our ability to execute,” said Fletcher. A re-thinking of IT architecture was needed, he said.
The need for quick technical flexibility is intensely apparent on the Choice Hotels’ website today. It is dotted with special book-early rate offers, gift card offerings, Privilege Point member specials, downloadable iPad and smart phone apps and more. It enables bookings on Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Econo Lodge, Sleep Inn and other familiar hotel marquees. All this functionality must be fleet and flexible, and supported by backend systems and middleware.
A big part of Fletcher’s drive is to simplify and standardize where possible. “We wanted to default to one standard,” he said. But multiple systems are a fact of life that require developers to be supple. The that is needed is what Fletcher calls “fungibility.”
“We have thirteen different systems. And I don’t want there [to be a need for] ‘tribal knowledge’ of any one of them,” he said.
How does that pan out in operations? Some complexity is unavoidable – but simplicity must be the goal. “Every application server type we have has a different patching policy and security profile,” he said. “I may have four – I don’t want any more,” he said.
SOA and the Oracle SOA Suite have been first steps in gaining the flexibility Fletcher’s organization is looking to achieve, with BPM and modeling deployments to come, he said. Developers go through intensive training in SOA. He said the effort is built around the concept of a “SOA Services Factory.”
“We started with service domain module creation, working with partners to create several high-level service domains,” said Fletcher. Looking forward, he expects to be mapping SOA services with well-defined business processes. The domains provide a framework for the services. As the services grow up they map naturally to how the business thinks, and what the business does, he said.
The Apache Hadoop distributed file processing system has benefits and is gaining traction. However, it can have drawbacks. Some organizations find that starting up with Hadoop requires rethinking software architecture and that acquiring new data skills is necessary.
For some, a problem with Hadoop’s batch-processing model is that it assumes there will be downtime to run the batch in between bursts of data acquisition. This is the case for many businesses that operate locally and have a large number of transactions during the day, but very little (if any) at night. If that nightly window is large enough to process the accumulation of data from the previous day, everything goes smoothly. For some businesses though, that window of downtime is small or non-existent and even with Hadoop’s high-powered processing, they still get more data in one day than they can process every 24 hours.
For organizations with small windows of acceptable, an approach that adds components of stream-based data processing may help, writes GigaSpaces CTO Nati Shalom in a recent blog on making Hadoop faster. By constantly processing incoming data into useful packets and removing static data that does not need to be processed (or reprocessed) enterprise organizations can significantly accelerate their big data batch processes. – James Denman