Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Jerry Melnick, Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz, Roger Strukhoff, Michelle Drolet

Related Topics: Java

Java: Blog Feed Post

JavaOne 2009: Open Source Project Stonehenge

Interoperability is more than just talking with each other

Microsoft and Sun recently announced their Open Source Project Stonehenge at the JavaOne conference. Stonehenge is a reference implementation that shows how to bridge the two major development platforms Java and .NET using Web Services. This initiative definitely puts the spotlight on heterogeneity and the challenges that come with it.
Interoperability on the platform level is just the starting point of bridging the two worlds. It leads to further challenges down the road and several questions that come with it:

  • Who needs interoperability?
  • How does it affect team productivity?
  • Is it all about application stacks?
  • How effective can we diagnose problems?
  • How to calculate TCO 1 + 1 = 2 or 3?

Who needs interoperability?
There are different use cases where companies need to think about interoperability

  • Integrating different systems implemented on different platforms, e.g.: ERP with CRM
  • Integrating 3rd party solutions that only run on a specific platform, e.g.: Enterprise Search Engines
  • Integrate components inherited from acquisitions

The driving factor of interoperability in all these cases is gained productivity. Instead of re-implementing an existing system in order to bring it on to the platform of choice it is more productive to integrate with the other platform.

Individual platforms also have their individual strengths in different areas. Microsoft technologies for instance provide great flexibility and good tools to implement end-user applications whereas the Java platform has proven itself very strong in backend enterprise systems. Leveraging the best of both sides requires the integration of these two worlds.
Microsoft and Sun took the first step by providing a reference implementation that shows how to technically integrate .NET and Java by using Web Services. This is a first important step – but there is more than the technical integration that we need in order to successfully make interoperability happen.

How does it affect team productivity?
How often have you seen a .NET developer that debugs Java code in Eclipse on Linux? Or how often have you seen a Java developer in front of Visual Studio browsing through C# or VB.NET code?
Cross platform developers are a rare “species”. A typical cross platform development team therefore has developers specialized in either Java or .NET. An individual developer most often sees the other platform as a Black Box and as something that should be avoided if possible. Web Services allow calling from .NET to Java and the other way around. Debugging is easy on each side individually but it becomes a big obstacle having to debug transactions that cross platform boundaries. It either requires the developer to be both acquainted with Visual Studio and Eclipse as well as being familiar with both the Java and .NET code – which rarely is the case.
In a typical heterogeneous team it therefore always requires developers from both sides to analyze transaction flows. This is a tedious manual task by setting the correct breakpoints on each side and in each IDE, then stepping through the code. Debugging through code also only works in a single user environment as it is hardly possible to identify the correct thread on the server side implementation of a Web Service that belongs to the calling client side.

If the team collaboration works well – cross platform problem analysis is a doable task – but as outlined above it requires at least one resource from each side. Far too often – these team members don’t communicate well and simply play the “Blame Game” when coming across an issue by simply blaming the problem to be in the implementation on the other platform. This approach of resolving the problem negatively affects team productivity by introducing extra resolution cycles and it also increases tension between teams and team members.
These cross team issues are similar than thse we have seen between development and testing teams – two teams that work in different domains not having the insight into the others problem domain. This similar problem has been solved by providing testers with diagnostics tools that collect more meaningful information during their tests which help developers to quickly identify the root cause of problems. Getting this type of information not only took out the tension but also fastened the overall development cycle.

The logical conclusion therefore is to equip all teams in a heterogeneous team with tools that can collect and visualize the right set of data to speed up problem resolution, take out the tension and improve the overall team productivity.

Is it all about application stacks?
Integrating the different platforms from an implementation perspective is obviously the mandatory step to allow cross platform communication. This goal has been achieved with Web Services and the correct implementation of Web Service Standards by the different application stack providers.
Development tools like Visual Studio and Eclipse make it easy to create the application code (proxy classes) necessary to call from Java to .NET and vice versa. As long as everything runs fine during runtime developers on both sides can focus on their implementation without needing to worry about what is going on in the other cross platform teams.
In case problems come up, e.g.: calling a .NET Web Service from Java that returns a weird error its not possible for the Java Developer to go beyond the error message received in the Eclipse debugger. Tools on each side are very good in debugging, diagnosing and profiling problems on the respective platform. Cross Platform Support is however missing right now – preventing the Java Developer to follow the problem to the .NET side.

Why do we need cross platform tools?
Coming back to the example from above: When calling a .NET Web Service that throws an error or that executes slow can have multiple reasons. It could be a bug in the .NET Web Service implementation. It could also be a configuration issue in one of the used SOAP Application Stacks causing interoperability issues or it might be problematic input parameters from the Java side that causes unexpected or slow behaviours on the other side. One approach to analyze the problem is analyzing log files from both sides. The problem here is that there is no common log format and that there is no transactional context available that would allow transactional tracing and correlation of log entries.
In order to analyze cross platform problems we therefore need tools that support all involved platforms. Having this ability enables developers on both sides to understand the dynamics of the whole system better and fastens up problem resolution.

How effectively can we diagnose problems?
The first thing in problem diagnosis is to answer the question whether there is a problem or not. Problems can manifest in different ways

  • Bad application performance to the end user
  • Errors in log entries of individual components
  • Resource issues in infrastructure impacting system components

When we know that we have a problem we need to figure out where the problem is. Looking at log files that indicate a problem is almost a best case scenario as it at least gives an indication where the problem surfaced the first time. Problems perceived by end users, e.g.: bad application performance or error pages are harder to track. Where was the time spent? Which component threw the error that made it to the user interface?
Getting alerts by monitoring individual system components can tell us that we run high on CPU on certain servers or that we consume too much network bandwidth. But which component is responsible for the exhaustive use of resources? Is it a bug in a component that runs on these servers or is it a calling service that makes too many calls to a certain component?

Existing Monitoring and Diagnostics solutions focus on a particular environment or single server instances. Application Servers usually come with their own diagnostics support and additionally export performance counters that can be picked up by Enterprise Monitoring Solutions that enable monitoring of the complete infrastructure. These tools are great to analyze general problems in the infrastructure or to analyze standalone problems within a server. All existing tools however lack in analyzing cross platform issues. There are tools that analyze log files from all different components and correlate events in different logfiles to identify individual transactions. This is the right way to go but it relies on having the log information that can be correlated.

Too often problem diagnosis in heterogeneous environments comes back to being done manually. Collecting all available log information and performance counters. As any manual task it’s not a task that is very effective and does not always lead to a successful problem diagnosis. In order to diagnose problems we require a common way of capturing information from all platforms that participate when executing a transaction. In case a transaction has a problem – all this information must be extractable and easy accessible to developers to analyze the problem.

How to calculate TCO 1 + 1 = 2 or 3?
The tool landscape for Java and .NET is a huge one. There are many specialized tools that help improve productivity by supporting all stakeholders involved in running an application.
When working in cross platform environments it’s necessary to ensure good tool support for each platform. Most of the tools on the market are very specialized on a single platform leading to the need of multiple tools in order to get the best support for each platform. More tools means more costs – especially when we want to ensure productivity.
Total Cost of Ownership for heterogeneous environments however is not just defined by the individual costs of the tools it requires. Additionally to buying individual tools there is extra cost involved to integrate them. Getting information from each of the tools is good – but the information is only really valuable when the information can be integrated in a similar way as our applications are integrated.
The lack of standards makes it very hard to actually integrate these tools to get the value out of it that each individual gives on a single platform.
Tools that support all platforms and that are able to provide the data collected on each platform in an integrated way will save costs that would otherwise be necessary to integrate individual island solutions.

Related posts:

  1. Web Service Interoperabilty Issues I’ve been working on building a .NET Client Application to...
  2. Performance Analysis: Identify GC bottlenecks in distributed heterogeneous environments William Louth made a good reference to one of his...
  3. Getting ready for TechReady8: Load- and Web-Testing with VSTS and dynaTrace I’ve been invited by Microsoft to show dynaTrace’s integration into...

 

More Stories By Andreas Grabner

Andreas has over a decade of experience as an architect and developer, and currently works as a senior performance architect and technology strategist for dynaTrace Software, where he influences product strategy and works closely with customers in implementing performance management solutions across the application life cycle. He is a regular speaker at software conferences, writes for a number of technology publications, and blogs at http://blog.dynatrace.com

Cloud Expo Breaking News
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.
Chief Security Officers (CSO), CIOs and IT Directors are all concerned with providing a secure environment from which their business can innovate and customers can safely consume without the fear of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. To be successful in today's hyper-connected world, the enterprise needs to leverage the capabilities of the web and be ready to innovate without fear of DDoS attacks, concerns about application security and other threats. Organizations face great risk from increasingly frequent and sophisticated attempts to render web properties unavailable, and steal intellectual property or personally identifiable information. Layered security best practices extend security beyond the data center, delivering DDoS protection and maintaining site performance in the face of fast-changing threats.
From data center to cloud to the network. In his session at 3rd SDDC Expo, Raul Martynek, CEO of Net Access, will identify the challenges facing both data center providers and enterprise IT as they relate to cross-platform automation. He will then provide insight into designing, building, securing and managing the technology as an integrated service offering. Topics covered include: High-density data center design Network (and SDN) integration and automation Cloud (and hosting) infrastructure considerations Monitoring and security Management approaches Self-service and automation
In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, David Holmes, Vice President at OutSystems, will demonstrate the immense power that lives at the intersection of mobile apps and cloud application platforms. Attendees will participate in a live demonstration – an enterprise mobile app will be built and changed before their eyes – on their own devices. David Holmes brings over 20 years of high-tech marketing leadership to OutSystems. Prior to joining OutSystems, he was VP of Global Marketing for Damballa, a leading provider of network security solutions. Previously, he was SVP of Global Marketing for Jacada where his branding and positioning expertise helped drive the company from start-up days to a $55 million initial public offering on Nasdaq.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 14th Cloud Expo, Marc Jones, Vice President of Product Innovation for SoftLayer, will explain how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
Are you interested in accelerating innovation, simplifying deployments, reducing complexity, and lowering development costs? The cloud is changing the face of application development and deployment, with enterprise-grade infrastructure and platform services making it possible for you to build and rapidly scale enterprise applications. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Gene Eun, Sr. Director, Oracle Cloud at Oracle, will discuss the latest solutions and strategies for application developers and enterprise IT organizations to leverage Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) to build and deploy modern business applications in the cloud.
Hybrid cloud refers to the federation of a public and private cloud environment for the purpose of extending the elastic and flexibility of compute, storage and network capabilities, in an on-demand, pay-as-you go basis. The hybrid approach allows a business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities. Hybrid cloud environments involve complex management challenges. First, organizations struggle to maintain control over the resources that lie outside of their managed IT scope. They also need greater infrastructure visibility to help reduce maintenance costs and ensure that their company data and resources are properly handled and secured.