SOA Talk

March 5, 2012  3:36 PM

Node.js: Bubbling up from JavaScript

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Jack Vaughan, Site Editor

Bubbling under the mainstream of computing these days is the fast growing phenomenon of Node.js – a framework built on Google’s Chrome JavaScript virtual machine and providing a type of server-side JavaScript experience. 

Node.js employs an event-driven architecture and a non-blocking I/O model, and it provides some blindingly fast performance to some types of data-intensive Web apps.  It seems to take a very-light-weight component approach that distinguishes it from even lightest of the lightweight Java servers, while, some would say, harkening back to C and C++ servers that predated the Java server. Node.js is written in C and C++ and, on one level at least, it seems the province of the system programmer rather than the typical application developer. But it is programmed via JavaScript.

LinkedIn, Yahoo and eBay are among ardent Node users (‘’js’’ is sometimes jettisoned and it’s simply called ‘’Node’’), and a recent West Coast Node conference was graced by none other than Microsoft, which is toying with end-to-end JavaScript coverage on its Azure cloud. But it may be said that none are more out front on the Node.js wave than IaaS cloud provider Joyent, which went ahead and hired Node.js creator Ryan Dahl. As a cloud provider, Joyent is driven to optimize performance of its server farms, especially for Web application handling.

We recently caught up with Joyent CTO and co-founder Jason Hoffman to learn more about Node.js. We asked why Joyent took the Node.js route. He said:

“Why we did it is, at Joyent we have a lot of servers, more than most companies in the Fortune500 and we write in C, in a compiled language. We needed to write servers in a dynamic language for talking to certain protocols. Basically, we had to write service endpoints. The Node part of Node.js is separate. It is designed so that it can handle a lot endpoints – on the order of a million. Most things written for the [Java Virtual Machine] can only handle 20,000 [endpoints]. Node is meant to handle a lot of I/O.So we took the node part and married that with V8 [the JavaScript virtual machine from Google].”

Node.js comes without the baggage of early platforms or frameworks. ‘’It has no history of blocking’’ said Hoffman, describing classic program languages as ‘’non-event driven languages.’’ He suggests that the idea of client side JavaScript turning around and running on the server side would not be possible if it weren’t paired with the V8 JavaScript VM. It acts like an application server, or container.

The VM enables the ability to do an event-driven server, he said. Nod, in effect, becomes a framework that shows you how to write a server in JavaScript.

“It’s meant to be very easy. It’s meant to let someone write a server,” said Hoffman. “When we look at the general interest – most businesses are having to do API endpoints today. When you let more people connect via mobile devices, you have a lot more people connecting. Rather than having to have hundreds of servers, you can add two or three.  Node.js is just a very easy way to write endpoints.”

Is it easy enough for a developer legion to grapple with? Maybe, as long as the tools that cover over the complexity for the enterprise come into being. Node.js is a far cry from Web services, representing in a way a new take on some earlier pedal-to-the-metal architectures. But it may help overall to speed and streamline REST services, especially in mobile app settings. It seems poised perhaps to give a further boost to the often maligned JavaScript language, which got a just-in-time boost via the flood of Ajax frameworks that arose almost ten years ago.

March 2, 2012  3:31 PM

From incubator to top-level project: Evolution of Apache Deltacloud

Ryan Punzalan Profile: RPunzalan

The Apache Software Foundation recently announced that Apache Deltacloud has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a top-level project.

“We are thrilled to have the project’s growth and maturity recognized by The Apache Software Foundation,” said David Lutterkort, chair of the Apache Deltacloud Project Management Committee and principal software engineer at Red Hat. “We’ve shown that we have made progress and that Deltacloud gets to stay. We’ve also shown that we have a strong, vibrant community.”

Deltacloud was developed over two and a half years ago in response to a concern over the infrastructure service cloud landscape. “One of the things that really struck us was that there wasn’t really a way for users to avoid vendor lock-ins,” Lutterkort said. “So we developed Deltacloud as a way to define an API within an open source project.”

After speaking with customers and vendors about the project, Lutterkort said that Deltacloud was brought to the Apache Incubator because users didn’t feel comfortable with Deltacloud only being a Red Hat project. Since then, it has gained supporters.

“While in the Incubator, the Deltacloud API evolved to the point where products can use the Deltacloud API and not have to worry about differences in cloud API,” Lutterkort claimed.

Vendors such as Amazon, GoGrid, IBM, Microsofta and Eucalyptus all have worked with Red Hat for the development of Deltacloud. David Butler, VP of marketing for Eucalyptus, views the graduation of Deltacloud as a big step for Apache.

Eucalyptus has contributed drivers that helped Deltacloud support the company. Along with the contribution by Eucalyptus, the cloud community has contributed other kinds of drivers that have made the project more versatile.

Moving forward, Deltacloud is looking at few things. “The next piece is to see it in action,” Butler said. “See how it evolves, and since it is Apache licensed, see how certain companies may include it in their products.” Aside from the products, Deltacloud is also hoping to make it easier for users as well.

“We’re looking to establish an open source de facto standard by having everyone rally around the idea of implementation,” Lutterkort said. “And we hope that the implementation will help users in becoming more portable across clouds.” – Ryan Punzalan

March 1, 2012  4:17 PM

Application modernization Platform as a Service puts focus on business agility

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

Among all the tasks that face the enterprise looking to modernize, improving business agility is first, according to Andy Gordon, Application modernization Platform as a Service (AMPS) director for Unisys. SOA is a part of that effort, he says, because business agility means you are ”developing capabilities that are built to change.”

Today, ”the parts are interoperable,” he said, noting that ”APIs have now become products for a lot of companies and public sector agencies.” These public APIs must be flexible, and be able to support an increasingly broader user base.

”APIs are now recognized as a first-class revenue generator that is solidifying the need to have a service-oriented enterprise – one with the expertise to do services and to be agile,” he said.

Gordon said Unisys is rolling out new services, known as the AMPS Center of Excellence, to help companies improve their application modernization initiatives. The services suite includes an AMPS SOA Governance and an AMPS SOA Operational Software Platform. Some of the new parts are supplied via deals with other software providers such as EMC Documentum, SOA Software and RedHat JBoss – with special Unisys-tailored customizations, based on the company’s extensive work in the field.

SOA infrastructure provides a useful ”backplane,” according to Gordon, to help orchestrate and manage the new style of API. ”A SOA management intermediary is valuable,” he said. ”It brings the management of APIs, security, logging, protocol mediation and a dashboard for watching services activity.”

Still, like others, Gordon emphasizes that ”SOA is something you do, not something you buy.” As a result, SOA Assessment services and SOA Strategy services are part of the AMPS Center of Excellence.

We asked Gordon to share a few useful tips for achieving a successful enterprise SOA. He noted three elements that need to be in place. These follow.

3 Tips for Laying the Strategic Groundwork of a Successful Enterprise-Wide SOA

1. A prioritization process for requirements that emphasizes enterprise priorities in lieu of departmental priorities

2. A highly transparent, participative governance process comprising all stakeholders including a virtual team of service providers led by the SOA Program Director to ensure uninterrupted support for the SOA initiative.

3. An unbounded commitment of an executive sponsor to steadfastly support this organizational transformation.

Setting Priorities
Requirements for services in an enterprise-wide SOA initiative are determined and funded according to the priorities of the enterprise as a whole, rather than those of departments. This forces alignment of business with IT ensuring the goals of SOA are aligned with organizational objectives. That requires participatory governance and communication processes and especially greater interaction with the business lines.

Sound governance begins with a strategic plan that includes the business goals. These goals, in turn, can be transformed into IT requirements with clear line of sight from business goal to IT requirements, followed by high-level design specifications through testing, deployment maintenance, and application end of life.

Executive Commitment
A key responsibility of the executive sponsor (or their delegate) is to be the final decision making authority when the participative governance process reaches a stalemate during a task. The stalemate may occur during requirements prioritization, or there could be a disagreement on the timing for delivering new capability to customers.

February 21, 2012  7:57 PM

The Big Dig and difficult software

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

Software is magic – sometimes it’s magic out of control. Bad software projects, SOA or otherwise, need good analogies. So, we talk about The Long March, The Project from Hell and so on. A recent conversation adds a new analogy to the canon: The Big Dig.

When we spoke with MIT Systems Researcher Jeanne Ross, she pointed to Boston’s Big Dig as an archetypal muffed project. Continued »

February 14, 2012  3:56 PM

When business processes meet software services

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

When driving school instructors go to action films like “Fast and Furious” you can bet their impression differs from that of would-be race drivers in the same audience. “They should fasten their seatbelts,’’ says one. “Vroom-vroom,” says the other. That split often plays out similarly today in business process management.

There, the business side may buy the tools and model the processes, but then leave it to developers in the application integration team to make it all work with enterprise software services.

The business side sees the cool power slides and money in the bank; the development team sees the dangers in impedance mismatch between services and processes. The business side has the vision; the development side cleans up the mess. That is a bridge that must be crossed.

Continued »

February 3, 2012  8:50 PM

Mobile middleware platform uses open source ESB and BAM

James Denman James Denman Profile: James Denman

Transport for London, the transportation authority for England’s capital city, recently revamped their rider information services with an open source middleware platform. Application development provider Godel Technologies was tasked with upgrading the city’s information services for commuters and tourists. Some of these systems were decades old and in obvious need of new life. Godel Technologies chose a combination of open source ESB and open source BAM to build a middleware platform that supported the reinvigoration of Transport for London’s transportation service applications.

The system supports both one-off inquiries (a user sends a text with their current location and destination and the system replies with the appropriate transit route) and subscriptions to find out about emerging changes in train schedules (for example, a commuter might sign up to find out ASAP when scheduled maintenance effects their route to work).

The backbone of the new system is built on an open source enterprise service bus (ESB) and the associated open source business activity monitoring (BAM) system from WSO2. According to Simon Bidel, head of professional services at Godel Technologies, using a service-oriented architecture with an ESB to separate all the diverse services has made the system easier and less costly to implement.

Continued »

February 3, 2012  8:10 PM

IBM buys in to mobile middleware, acquires Worklight

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

The drive to ‘develop once and deploy everywhere’ has become more acute as small and big enterprise IT shops have needed to support a wide array of mobile devices. This has led to the appearance of mobile middleware that acts as a moderating stage between the enterprise backend and the mobile frontend.

”One of the challenges for companies is to keep up with the pace of mobility. It is difficult – updating [mobile apps] in some cases on a monthly basis,” said Steve Drake, analyst, IDC. That is where the mobile middleware trend gets impetus.

The trend proved vibrant enough this week for IBM to scoop up Israel-based mobile middleware house Worklight for an undisclosed sum. Continued »

February 2, 2012  9:41 PM

The year of WebOS and open source?

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

HP recently followed up its December plan to release its WebOS mobile platform and development tools with a proposed timeline.  The company also recently released Enyo 2.0, the webOS developer’s tool that enables users to distribute their Enyo-based webOS applications across other platforms. When it’s all said and done, WebOS will be given to the open source community under an Apache license 2.0.

Developers were hoping to have the open source version of WebOS at all at once; however HP announced that the platform and its supporting tools will be released in installments running through September. The first version, Open WebOS 1.0, will be converted to a standard Linux kernel which will make it easier to port to different hardware.

It has been a winding road for WebOS since it was first introduced by Palm in January 2009 as the successor to Palm OS. After Palm was acquired by HP in April 2010, webOS was released to new HP devices. It was practically left for dead, after product line changes and complicated corporate shuffling at the top of HP.

Its troubled path since Palm’s acquisition by HP has caused experts to doubt webOS’s outlook. Al Hilwa, program director for IDC, said it will face an uphill battle.

“The battle for mobile platforms appears to have narrowed considerably,” Hilwa said, “And it is difficult and unrealistic at this point to expect WebOS to see a recovery back into that market.” In a smartphone poll performed by Nielsen in Q2 2011, webOS only had a 2 percent market share in the U.S. compared to 39 percent for Android and 28 percent that for Apple iOS.

However, Hilwa believes that the flexibility of webOS may help the platform become relevant in the future.

“It is quite possible that hardware vendors in the embedded space can take WebOS up for appropriate projects,” Hilwa said, in an email message. “Also, there are parts of WebOS, such as the development framework, that may be used independently.”

This month, HP expects to release and intended project governance model, QT WebKit extensions, JavaScript core, and UI Enyo widgets. In March, HP is set to release graphics extensions, LevelDB, USB extensions. An update for Enyo (2.1), the release of Ares 2.0, and Node services are expected for April. July sets up the ground for September with the release of a system manager dubbed, Luna, a system manager bus, core applications, and another update of Enyo (2.2). The Open webOS beta will be released in August, the company said. – Ryan Punzalan

January 25, 2012  7:07 PM

Accenture enhances self-service portal with ”natural language” rules engine

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

By Ryan Punzalan

Today, Accenture released an updated version of a self-service portal to provide people electronic access to their caseworkers and the benefit application process in state resource systems. Continued »

January 20, 2012  3:30 AM

Security architecture meets enterprise architecture

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

The Open Group got together with the SABSA Institute to give a new security architecture flavor to TOGAF, The Open Group Architecture Framework. It takes the form of some new guidance for working the security angle into enterprise architecture planning. A key to the SABSA approach is willingness to accept some risk while working to ensure security. That’s informed by the notion that security strategies for businesses must admit that a business is here to do business.


“The most secure store never opens,” quips SABSA Academy leader John Sherwood.


The TOGAF-SABSA collection of best practices will find a ready audience as IT moves to endorse more and more Web APIs. And it is not always about security. When Sony’s game playing audience saw their sites down due to security issues they complained – not to get the sites secure, but to get the sites running. Can you say paradigm shift?

Gamesters are different than enterprise apps users. The enterprise app users sue. The balancing act is delicate. Read about the TOGAF/SABSA Guidance.



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