|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...
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment proces...
Dec. 1, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 136
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them ...
Dec. 1, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 128
In demand-intensive mobile and web applications, an emerging pattern is to host the Systems of Engagement in the cloud (for maximum responsiveness) but keep the Systems of Record with the other important business systems in the company datacenter, often on a tightly secured mainframe. But what about the space in between? In this IBM Redpaper publication, we show that the IBM Bluemix cloud platform offers technologies that make it easy for cloud-based SoEs to securely connect to on-premises IBM...
Dec. 1, 2015 10:19 AM EST
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Dec. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 576
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
Dec. 1, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 481
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Dec. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 395
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Dec. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 251
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
Dec. 1, 2015 06:30 AM EST Reads: 515
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
Dec. 1, 2015 06:00 AM EST Reads: 273
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Dec. 1, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 622
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...
Dec. 1, 2015 04:45 AM EST Reads: 458
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a global leader in monitoring, and testing the performance of online applications, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of DevOps Summit New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016 at the Javits Center in New York City. Catchpoint radically transforms the way businesses manage, monitor, and test the performance of online applications. Truly understand and improve user experience with clear visibility into complex, distributed online systems.Founde...
Dec. 1, 2015 04:15 AM EST
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Dec. 1, 2015 03:30 AM EST Reads: 533
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 470
The revocation of Safe Harbor has radically affected data sovereignty strategy in the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Jeff Miller, Product Management at Cavirin Systems, discussed how to assess these changes across your own cloud strategy, and how you can mitigate risks previously covered under the agreement.
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 113
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 469
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Dec. 1, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 437
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Logz.io, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company Logz.io. In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Nov. 30, 2015 10:00 PM EST Reads: 289
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Nov. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 497
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 30, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 375