|By Andreas Grabner||
|June 9, 2009 12:30 PM EDT||
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.
- Web Service Interoperabilty Issues I’ve been working on building a .NET Client Application to...
- Performance Analysis: Identify GC bottlenecks in distributed heterogeneous environments William Louth made a good reference to one of his...
- Getting ready for TechReady8: Load- and Web-Testing with VSTS and dynaTrace I’ve been invited by Microsoft to show dynaTrace’s integration into...
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.
Nov. 28, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,007
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,276
"We help companies that are using a lot of Software as a Service. We help companies manage and gain visibility into what people are using inside the company and decide to secure them or use standards to lock down or to embrace the adoption of SaaS inside the company," explained Scott Kriz, Co-founder and CEO of Bitium, 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.
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,355
Some developers believe that monitoring is a function of the operations team. Some operations teams firmly believe that monitoring the systems they maintain is sufficient to run the business successfully. Most of them are wrong. The complexity of today's applications have gone far and beyond the capabilities of "traditional" system-level monitoring tools and approaches and requires much broader knowledge of business and applications as a whole. The goal of DevOps is to connect all aspects of app...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,117
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,734
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Nov. 27, 2014 05:00 PM EST Reads: 1,321
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,132
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,193
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,213
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,271
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,621
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,285
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,458
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,657
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,270
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,321
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,217
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, 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.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:15 AM EST Reads: 1,292
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,223
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,506